Immigration process on the move…Let’s see what happens next week…More photos from Marloth Park…

Big Daddy by candlelight after dark.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

We see this same gecko almost every day on this same tree area in front of the veranda. It appears to change colors from time to time.

On October 24th, we drove to the immigration office in Nelspruit to file our request for a visa extension, having no idea whatsoever what the outcome may be.

Kudus by candlelight by the cement pond, stopping for a drink.

When we left after a second lengthy visit to the facility, we were told to begin checking their website every day once three weeks had passed. We started checking after two weeks, figuring it was better to be proactive than wait.

Things do not move quickly here, as is the case for many government facilities worldwide. One never knows what to expect. Patience and perseverance are vital in working through any governmental agency, as we all know from personal experience.

Giraffe in the neighborhood.  We never tire of seeing these beautiful animals.

Three weeks passed, and nothing. Finally, two days ago, we noticed a change in the online information at the five-week mark when we entered our ID numbers and surname on the “check your application” page.  

A determined walk along the fence by the Crocodile River.

It appeared our file had been moved to Pretoria, one of the three capital centers in South Africa.  Why does this country have three capital cities? The answer is here from this site:

South Africa is amongst a minority of countries that do not have a single capital city. Instead, South Africa boasts three capital cities, one for each branch of government. Pretoria is the administrative capital of South Africa. Cape Town is the legislative capital. And Bloemfontein is the judicial capital.
When the Union of South Africa was created, different parties had different views on the appropriate city for the capital. Some expressed concern that allowing a single city to hold all branches of government could lead to too much power for one place. Thus, the developing nation placed the three branches of government in three different capital cities.”
The Crocodile River after the sun has set.

This morning when I checked again, I found a new vague response, different from that of a few days ago, prompting me to call to determine what the special message will be when it’s time to drive back to Nelspruit to get the answer from a sealed envelope, opened in front of us, if we have to leave or can stay until February 20, 2019.

It kind of feels like a game show…open the envelope for the answer. But, who’s to say how this particular process was developed and why the necessity of the sealed envelope becomes the means of notification.

A beam of light reflected off the camera at sunset on the river.

If we have to leave, we’ll have 10 days to clear out. If not, we’ll go on about our enjoyable lives in Marloth Park for the duration. We’re trying hard not to speculate anything other than a positive outcome.

Should we have to exit, we’ll have 10 days to come up with a plan and leave accordingly. We’ll keep all of our readers posted on the outcome as soon as we know.  

Mom and four piglets have been stopping by several times a time.

We’ll most likely be heading to Nelspruit by next Friday or Monday, December 7th or December 10th, based on the fact that the rep I spoke to today stated we’ll know something in five business days.

We’re anxious to get this behind us, one way or another, and be able to fully relax during the holidays with many plans on the horizon. During whatever remaining time we may have in South Africa.  

Bushbuck baby, maybe dad and mom often stop at the bottom of the steps for their pellets.  

Last night we had another excellent evening with Rita and Gerhard at Ngwenya.  The sky was clouded, so we missed the sunset, nor did we see anything of significance on the river. But, as always, the conversation flowed with endless stories the four of us thoroughly enjoyed sharing.

Tonight, after being out the last two nights, we’re looking forward to an evening on the veranda once again. We’ve had numerous visitors so far today and anticipate it will be no different tonight when they seem to arrive as soon as we set things up. 

Tom took this photo early this morning of a wound on yet another warthog which appears to be healing.  These are sturdy and hardy animals that often survive serious injury without any intervention by humans.

It’s bun-less burgers on the braai tonight with homemade ketchup, sliced onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and cheese (for Tom), and of course, crispy bacon to top it off.  A lettuce salad on the side with homemade salad dressing, and we’re good to go.

Have a great weekend wherever you may be, doing exactly what you love to do!

Photo from one year ago today, November 30, 2017:

While off on a self-tour in Manta Ecuador, we noticed Panamanian hats were a popular tourist purchase. For more photos of our day, please click here.


The escalating cost of feeding our furry visitors without rain…

There were several elephants very close to the road, allowing us to acquire these close-up photos.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Many species visited our garden in the early mornings; kudus, bushbucks, warthogs, helmeted guineafowl, and duikers.  What a great start to the day!

Finally, the hot weather has ended for the moment, and we’re currently sitting outdoors on the veranda feeling cooled and refreshed. Several days of extreme heat plagued this area, and finally, we got a breather for a few days.

Even some of the dry bush has some nutritional value to the elephants. Rain is desperately needed for the wildlife.

We’re hoping the cloudy sky will bring much-needed rain for the vegetation and, subsequently, the starving wildlife. If it doesn’t rain soon, many animals could die of starvation when many are herbivores and omnivores.

Giraffes were making their way up a hill.

The constant feeding we’re doing in the garden of our bush house surely is helping some of the animals with a modicum of nourishment but certainly can’t comprise their entire diet.

Hippos rest close to one another while in the water for added safety.

We’re currently going through a 40 kg (88 pounds) of pellets every three days, which has increased over the year. At this point, at about ZAR 236 (US $17.21), we’re spending upwards of ZAR 2360 (US $172.10) per month on the pellets.

A parade of elephants on the move near the Sabie River.

In addition, we’re spending another ZAR 658 (US $50) for pears, apples, and carrots for a total of ZAR 3018 (US $220.04) to feed the wildlife each month.  Once the rains come and the vegetation is lush, we’ll be able to cut back on the feed as they go about their search for nutrition provided by the bush.

Giraffes have the advantage of not having to share the treetops with other wildlife other than other giraffes.

Do we mind spending this much to feed the wildlife? Not at all. It’s part of the reason we are here in Marloth Park, not only to enjoy the beauty of the bush but to play a small role in providing nourishment for these stunning creatures during this difficult time.

Two hippos and two cape buffalos were cohabitating peacefully at the river.

Of course, we can feed any single animal an entire day’s dietary needs. Even the delicate bushbucks who chew slowly and deliberately could eat us “out of house and home” if we gave them all they wanted. Their needs are substantial.

We were so close to these elephants we didn’t use any zoom on the camera.  

The pecking order prevails in this situation. The warthogs scare off the bushbucks, the wildebeests scare off the pigs, the zebras scare off the kudus, and it goes on and on. All we can do is continue to pay attention to those who haven’t received any sustenance and try to single them out with extra pellets.

They were packed in tight into this good spot for dining.

Sadly, we have a few injured warthogs coming to call, particularly Wounded right now, and we do admit to going overboard to ensure he gets a larger share than some. He looked very thin when he initially appeared, but now he seems to be filling out a little.

Knowing we may play even a small role in helping them during this dry season means a lot to us both. Some locals feel the animals should not be fed and to let “nature take its course.” We understand both sides, but we had to choose one, and we opted for feeding as many other residents have.

They were so busy eating, they barely noticed us.

Some say there are too many animals in Marloth Park to sustain itself, and we also understand this. Of course, if the rain would come, this would alleviate a part of these concerns.  

Plus, with the desirability of this magical place, more and more new homes are being built, which ultimately impacts the size of the bush where the animals can graze. It’s a vicious cycle, but we don’t get into politics.  

The size of these elephant’s feet is astounding.

We don’t own a house here, nor will we in the future, and in reality, we have no right to impose our opinions on others. We can only make choices that feel right for our beliefs and our passions while we’re here.

We’re hoping the rains will come over these next few months to gradually reduce feedings to encourage the wildlife to forage as nature intended.

Such fascinating beasts must be revered and respected.  Sadly, their numbers are dwindling in many parts of Africa due to poaching.

Last night we had a fabulous dinner at friends Jan and Steve’s house with Rita and Gerhard in attendance as well. Perfect food, beautiful people, an ideal setting, and conversations. We’re so fortunate to be among these fine friends, such pleasing surroundings, and the paradise where this wildlife exists.

We’re thankful, so very grateful!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, November 29, 2017:

Some freighters can carry as many as 18,000 20-foot containers. This freighter was being guided through the Panama Canal at the Miraflores locks. For more photos from the Panama Canal, please click here.

Lions in Kruger National Park…The fascination with lions…The scorching heat continues…

We shot this photo of a female lion taking a drink in the Maasai Mara in October 2013.  Although we had an amateur camera then, as we do now, being up close made all the difference in the world as opposed to today’s remaining lion photos taken in Kruger at a distance. Here’s the link from which we copied this photo with many more lions photos, including one in a tree.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This is our resident tree frog, who mostly lives on a light fixture frame on the veranda.  In the winter months, he only appeared at night. Now, he’s there almost constantly except for this particular time when he came down from the light and sat on a chair on the veranda. He eats lots of insects at night when we turn on the light.  

Human’s fascination with lions has persisted for centuries. Their mystery, fierceness, and veracity, coupled with their physical structure and gender differences, have been the primary source of interest for most amateur and professional photographers who are fortunate enough to visit their territories throughout the world.
From Kruger National Park’s website:

“GL SMUTS, LION (1982)

Butch Smuts worked in the Kruger National Park for many years, first studying what was causing a decline in zebra populations and later performing intensive studies on the lion populations in the park, with a special emphasis on the central region of the park. Together with colleagues, they developed mass capture protocols for lions that are still used today. During this research, the first lion ever to be fitted with a radio collar was captured and released to provide information to curious scientists.

Lions are often seen at a distance in Kruger. It’s a rare exception to see them crossing the road, as depicted in many photos.

Over four years in the 1970s, the stomach contents of 257 lions were examined. 47 percent of the lions had empty stomachs. For the remaining lions, ten prey animals had been eaten by the lions. These were impala (30%), wildebeest (24%), giraffe (15%), zebra (11%), warthog (8%), waterbuck (5%), kudu, and buffalo (2% each). A domestic goat (probably from outside the park) and an unidentified animal were also found. When statistical analysis based on the sizes of the animals was performed, the giraffe was found to make up the most incredible bulk of the animals’ diet, followed by wildebeest and zebra.

We spotted the five lions at the Verhami Dam, which no longer has any water during this hot season.

Smuts and his colleagues performed a lion census in the mid-1970s, luring over 600 lions to call centers where the lions could be darted and marked to enable counting. During a five-year period, they managed to capture over 1 200 lions. He found that the central district of the Kruger National Park had over 700 lions, dispersed amongst sixty different prides. There was a sex ratio of two adult female lions to every adult male.

The five lions were all females.

The largest pride contained 21 lions, and on average, there were two males per pride, although this ranged from one to five males per pride. The lion density was worked out as 13 lions per 100km2. They also worked out that there was one lion per 110 prey items in Kruger at that time. This was a strong contrast to the Serengeti where only about one lion per 1,000 prey animals.”

It was scorching that day at 40C (104F) as they sought shelter from the sun under trees.

Although this article is over 35 years old, it was interesting information we hadn’t seen anywhere in our recent research.  Kruger’s website, in general, has been an excellent source of information for us over these past many months.

Surely, calling groups of lions a “pride” has something to do with their proud and confident demeanor.  Hence, the “King of the Jungle.”

And yes, as we peruse the Crocodile River banks day after day from here in Marloth Park, we find ourselves on the proverbial search for lions when we enter Kruger.

We held our breath as we took these photos to steady the camera.

Much to our surprise, we see them more often from the fence in Marloth Park than we do while on a self-drive or professional game drive in Kruger. While in the Maasai Mara in Kenya n 2013, we did see them up close and personal.  

In a mere 87 days or so, we’ll be back in Kenya to visit once again the famed Maasai Mara (as part of a larger Kenya wildlife photography tour) when roads are not barriers to getting close to the magnificent beasts.  

These five may be part of what is referred to as the “Verhami Pride.”  

In Kruger, it’s required to stay on the paved or dirt roads. Thus, our photos may only be taken from the roads when spotting wildlife, making many scenes challenging to acquire.

We took today’s main photo in the Maasai Mara in October 2013. You can see the advantage of being close to the subject when using a less-than-high-end camera, as we had then and we have now.

She couldn’t have been prettier as this little branch framed her face.

Of course, we’d love to have the equipment to be able to get great shots from long distances. But, as we’ve mentioned repeatedly, we don’t want to carry the extra weight around the world, nor can we handle a heavy camera since both of us have bad right shoulders. It’s a reality we have to live with.

From time to time, a few would raise their heads, looking intently for possible prey.

As technology improves over the years, we’ll eventually be able to buy a lightweight camera with more efficiency and clarity. We look forward to that time.  In the interim, we do the best we can.

Here we are attending a photographic safari for 16 nights in Kenya in a few months, were most likely, all the participants will have upscale, sophisticated cameras. We’re ok with this.  

Not everyone has a lifestyle similar to ours with certain restrictions. We’re going on this adventure for the experience and for photos we can share with all of you along this exciting journey, many of which will be as clear as the primary photo in today’s post, taken over five years ago.

They’d lay back down with one keeping a watchful eye for possible action.

We continue here now and will carry on in Kenya, searching for those special wildlife photos. Please stay tuned for many more lion photos during our remaining time in South Africa, which will only escalate once we return to the Maasai Mara.

The scorching heat continues as we sit here on the veranda drenched in sweat.  But, this is what one expects in Africa, so we take it in our stride. As long as we can sleep in aircon comfort at night, we have no problem. That means the power must stay on, another reality of Africa we’ve adapted to over this extended stay.

Tonight, we off to friends Jan and Steve’s bush home for dinner.  Rita and Gerhard are joining us after meeting them last Saturday at Jabula. That’s how it is here, friendly and welcoming, even for newcomers.

Stay cool, stay warm, wherever you may be, to provide the utmost comfort.

Photo from one year ago today, November 28, 2017:
Our ship was this close to the walls to the walls of the passageway of the Panama Canal as this cargo ship in front of us. This was our second passage through the canal since we began our travels. For more photos, please click here.

Christmas season upon us?..A good trip into Kruger National Park…The suffocating heat continues…

A tired old elephant was resting his trunk on his tusk.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

The four little piglets keep returning (with mom, of course) for more fun in the garden.

It’s a little after 11:00 am, and I’m finally wrapping up today’s post. As mentioned in prior posts, I don’t always get it done first thing in the morning as I’d done in years past.

Elephant family on their way back up the hill from the Sabie River. “The Sabie River is a river in South Africa that forms part of the Komati River System. The catchment area of the Sabie-Sand system is 6,320 km2 in extent. The Sabie is one of the most biologically diverse rivers in South Africa, with generally good water quality.”

Often, I’ll prep for dinner, wash clothes or work on other tasks lined up for the day to get them all behind me, so my mind is free when I sit down to begin the day’s story.

Waterbuck on the Sabie River.

This morning, I began purchasing some of the six grandchildren’s Christmas gifts, with more to do in a few weeks. Some want specific items we order from Amazon and others prefer Visa gift cards to choose their items. Either way is acceptable for us.

This morning I ordered the gifts for my son Greg’s three children, who had specific items in mind. With the big holiday rush in the US and often special items becoming sold out, I decided to get a handle on it today.
Enormous cape buffalo on the shore of the Sabie River.

Our other three grandchildren prefer the Visa gift cards, so we order those from Amazon about two weeks in advance of Christmas with no worries about them arriving on time.

A face only a mother could love, seem at the Sunset Dam in Kruger.

Tom and I don’t buy gifts for one another, nor do we exchange gifts with our adult children (wouldn’t that be a fiasco with South Africa’s mail service with a backlog of 7.5 million undelivered packages)? This made sense a long time ago when we left the US – no gifts, please.

We often waited for that big mouth open photo, but it didn’t happen.

It’s hard to believe that the Christmas season is upon us once again. We’ve already noticed Christmas decor (which isn’t an issue here in SA) on display in our frequent shops. 

Another adorable hippo face at the Sunset Dam.

Over these years, we’ve become less and less interested in the hoopla surrounding the holiday season. It doesn’t fit into this life of world travel. This doesn’t mean we don’t observe and respect the spiritual significance of Christmas. It simply means it makes no sense to purchase gifts for one another (no room in our luggage), Christmas trees, or decorations.

Nor do I bake cookies and the confections I’d done in years past. We both continue to monitor our low-carb, keto-based diet, attempting to maintain good health during the holiday season as well as throughout the year.

A tower of giraffes crossing the paved road in Kruger.

In reality, it certainly is easier this way. And, considering the awful heat lately, which will continue through the summer, I can’t imagine standing in the kitchen baking and cooking for the holidays.  

A parade of elephants traveling along the river’s edge.

The recent pie-baking-day-from-hell confirmed this when it was 40C (104F) while I made eight pumpkin pies. However, we loved serving our Thanksgiving dinner table for 12, and all the food and pies ultimately came out well, sending everyone home with leftovers and a full-sized individual pie.


Social plans become the highlight of the holiday season in Marloth Park.  We already have plans set for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve.
Now I’ll get to work on deciding what to do for Tom’s upcoming birthday on December 23rd, not the most convenient time of the year to celebrate a birthday.  But, celebrate we will, in one way or another, as we always do.

The hot temperature reading in the red car…40C equals 104F. It will be more desirable today, perhaps 42C (107.6F). We spend the days and evenings in the heat but use aircon in the bedroom at night.

Today’s photos are a few of many we captured in Kruger National Park yesterday when the power was out. We’ll have more to share in tomorrow’s post. As for today, most likely, we’ll make our usual drive through Marloth Park and to the fence at the Crocodile River to see what we can find. Doing so is an excellent respite from the heat of the afternoon when temps are at their highest, and the cooling air in the red car is a huge relief.

An oxpecker was working on a giraffe’s leg.

The rest of this week is socially active, with plans for tomorrow night, Thursday night, and Saturday night. We’ll report details as they occur.

May your midweek bring you many beautiful surprises.

Photo from one year ago today, November 27, 2017:
On Saturday, one year ago, we had lunch at Morgan’s Seafood Restaurant in Cayman Island with new friends Susan and Blair. For more photos, please click here.

What a day we’ve had!…Power outage for many hours…Trip to Kruger to entertain us, and it certainly did!…

In this photo, taken at Aamazing River View on Saturday night with friends, I cut off the top of his “tall” fluffy hair, but I like this photo of my guy, Tom.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Zebras in the garden, including a pregnant mare.  

Today’s post is going to be short and to the point. It’s very late in the afternoon as I type at this moment. We always put our laptops away for the evening while enjoying the wildlife in the garden and dinner on the veranda. Doing a post at night has been a rare occurrence.

Neither of us using any digital equipment until later in the evening when we may watch one episode of a favorite series on my laptop or play with our phones when we go to bed, reading and playing mindless games.

Today’s lion photos were taken at a considerable distance from the fence between Marloth Park and Kruger. Excuse the lack of clarity, please.

This morning shortly after I awakened, while Tom watched last night’s Minnesota Vikings football game, streaming on NFL GamePass, the power went out. This is not unusual in Marloth Park, but generally, it comes back on before dark.

When the power goes out, the Wi-Fi also goes out, and there is no way for me to do the post. I have an offline app I can use, but my almost-four-year-old laptop’s battery won’t last more than 90 minutes without being recharged.

A mom and her playful cub.

If I used all my battery power, we’d be left in total darkness when we come inside from the veranda where we may have spent the evening in the dark with no lights to see the wildlife and no lights to accompany our meal, let alone the need to prepare our dinner without power.

We save my laptop’s battery for that one show we may watch at 2200 hrs (10:00 pm) before we’d go to sleep. On top of that concern is that today, still spring, not summer, the temperature has been 40C (102F). Not having aircon by bedtime could result in a highly uncomfortable night.

Two lovely females.

So, instead of sitting around, frustrated and bored in the awful heat, we jumped into the new not-so-little red car (with excellent aircon) and headed to Kruger. One expects that on such hot days, the wildlife would stay undercover and many do.

But today was exceptional, and we had many excellent sightings we’ll share in tomorrow’s post. This time, we didn’t stop at the Mugg & Bean in Lower Sabie for breakfast since I had to eat something before I took the required six Prednisone tablets before 9:00 am for my outrageous case of pepper tick bites.

Her cub was suckling.

Luckily, the tablets are working, and the situation is resolving nicely. However, I’m plagued with the awful side effect of insomnia. The first night I took one of the Ambien prescribed by Doc Theo to help me sleep at night during the 12 day-course of medication.

But after reading about the dangers of this mind-altering drug, I decided I would not take another.  Instead, I’ve had a fitful night’s sleep without using any sleep aids of any type as I’m drifting in and out every hour or so. Overall, though, I’ve had five to six hours of intermittent sleep and feel fine.

Such adorableness for such fierce animals.

This morning I fell back to sleep for an hour which helped tremendously after Tom watched the game. Not out of bed until 8:00 am, the power went out moments after I got up. I showered and dressed in the dark.  

Tom was frustrated being unable to watch the remainder of the game, and I could not do the post. Thus, we decided, as we’ve done during past power outages, a trip to Kruger was in order.  By 9:00 am, we were on our way, hoping the power would be restored when we returned.

Two females who almost appear to be posing.

It wasn’t back on when we walked in the door five hours later. I was concerned about the food in the refrigerator, not so much the chest freezer. Of course, Louise was all over this situation, and the electrician and Wi-Fi guy was here in no time, and now at 1615 hours (4:15 pm), we’re back in business…lights, aircon, and Wi-Fi. Thanks to Louise, Jacques (the Wi-Fi guy), and Moses (the electrician) for restoring the power in the house.

(As a footnote, the power was out in Marloth Park, but when it’s restored, some properties may need to be attended to to get things back up and running correctly. So was the case here.)

Two females with the persistent cub nipping at mom’s leg.

Soon, it’s time to prep the veranda for the evening’s excitement. Since we returned today, we’ve had tons of visitors, including Wildebeest Willie, Mom Warthog, Four Tiny Babies, several Ms. Bushbucks and Babies, two Mr. Bushbucks, zillions of helmeted guineafowl, and Mr. and Ms. Duiker.  

They were all here at once shortly after we returned from Kruger. They scattered when the service staff came to help but surely will be here again as soon as we set up the veranda.  This happens every night promptly at 1700 hrs (5:00 pm).  Go figure.

See you tomorrow with new and exciting Kruger photos! The Vikings won. Tom is ecstatic.

Have a fantastic evening!

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

A tour boat under tarps at the marina in the Grand Cayman Islands, a port of call off the ship where we met a couple who’d seen our site and are now also traveling the world. For details and their photo, please click here.

Did this really happen in the garden of our bush house?…A somewhat philosophical viewpoint of life in the bush…

The strength and coordination required of a giraffe to bend this low are astounding. We could not believe what we were witnessing.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Later in the day, close to sunset, a wide array of visitors stopped by to check out the action in our garden.  There was plenty as usual.

After six years of world travel, we often say that nothing surprises us, although many things enlighten and enrich our lives. But, on Friday, we found ourselves reeling in awe and wonder over a scene we never expected to unfold before our eyes, a massive giraffe taking a drink from the tiny cement pond in our garden.

When we spotted these beautiful long legs in the neighbor’s driveway, we practically held our breath waiting to see what would happen.  

We say, “our” garden since over this past over nine months, this garden often filled with wondrous wildlife, has been ours in the fact that we’ve cultivated it with generous offerings, welcoming gentle conversation, and a passion that surely, in essence, has brought us so much joy.

In the past nine and a half months, we’ve only had giraffes come to call a few times around the edges of the property and in the driveway but never specified in the garden where all the others gather when they visit.

And for them, a casual visitor, with endless options of other gardens to visit in this wildlife paradise and wonderland, when they are here, we almost feel as if they belong with us.

The sound of the dry sekelbos branches cracking was earsplitting as she made her way through the dense bush.

Yes, we’ve given them names they only hold while in our garden. Yes, we talked to them in sweet voices with intense eye contact hoping for that moment when they understand our love and desire to bring them a modicum of joy, comfort, and nourishment.

As she approached, we stayed still and quiet.  Giraffes don’t interact with humans. They don’t eat pellets or any other food sources offered by humans.

In many ways, it’s all a mystery. Do they have the mental prowess and ability to connect with us on an emotional level? Or, as some say, they come for the food and, in today’s example, a cooling drink as a respite from the hot and dry weather.

I couldn’t help but zoom in to capture her pretty face.

We choose to believe beyond the obvious. Wildebeest Willie surely likes the pellets, despises the apples, carrots, and pears but brings with him an ability to look deep into my eyes when I speak to him, often not even bothering to eat the pellets until our “conversation” has ended.  

She was obviously on a mission for a drink.

This is the case with many others. I could go on and on about other examples such as this, but I’ve already mentioned them over and over again, ad nauseam. Forgive me for my redundancy. It’s entirely irresistible.

You can describe these “feelings” to those who aren’t here in this paradise-like environment, and they roll their eyes after one of our enthusiastic 60-second recitations about the magic of it all.  We know we need to shut up.  

She was obviously on a mission for a drink.

But the compelling desire to share a description of this place with others who don’t have a clue about it is literally compelling. It’s almost as if we can’t wait to get before an audience of one, 10, or 20 to tell this story, and yet, their interest wafts away in the blink of an eye, albeit a bored and disinterested eye.

It was a long way down to our cement pond.  Good thing, Tom had filled it to the brim earlier in the morning.

We noticed this phenomenon on cruise ships. When seated at a dinner table for 10 or 12 in the main dining room, most often amid total strangers, we experience a tremendous amount of curiosity about our peculiar lifestyle. They want to know the how, the why, the what, and the when of our ongoing homeless life of travel.

Invariably, we can’t resist mentioning Africa, where fewer travelers have been. They’re often astounded by our love of the continent while their own fears and apprehension consume their thoughts.  

She garnered the strength and agility to bend for a drink.

As soon as we mention Marloth Park, their eyes glaze over, and we realize it’s time to change the subject and let someone else share their travel adventure. We acquiesce, and the conversation continues down another path.

We’ve come to realize that only a certain fraction of the population is fascinated with wildlife. Last night, at Jabula at a table of eight with Kathy, Don, Rita and Gerhard, Janet and Steve, and us, we all shared this same passion. It was foolhardy to attempt to steer the conversation in other directions.

We were in awe of her musculature to maintain such a pose, if only for a short time.

Subsequently, our hearts and minds embrace each of their outstanding stories of sightings, albeit eliciting a bit of envy between one another’s sightings, often unlike any of our own.

Last night at dinner, the mention of our little story of the giraffe drinking from the cement pond raised a few eyebrows. It prompted several heartfelt wide grins, leaving us knowing that only these types of special wildlife-adoring people fully understand the depth and meaning of such experiences.

After drinking, she turned around and headed back into the dense sekelbos (sickle bush in English) to return to the parklands and her partner awaiting her at a short distance, as shown in this photo.

For those of you, our readers who have faithfully and diligently followed along on this long path of endless stories about Marloth Park and Kruger National Park for these many months, we commend you. A new direction is yet to come in a mere less than three months. We appreciate you, and we promise you…

Thank you for hanging in there with us while we’ve indulged ourselves in this lifelong passion.  The future holds a plethora of new adventures yet to come.

Be well. Be happy. Live your dream.

Photo from one year ago today, November 25, 2017:
Massive homes on the channel from Fort Lauderdale on our way out to sea for the Panama Canal and South America for the 30-night cruise. For more details, please click here.

A long night’s rest at last…Senior’s becoming addicted to prescriptions medications…Piglets paradise…

We couldn’t stop laughing while making this video of four baby warthogs and their playful antics. Please watch for a chuckle.
“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”
The piglets even tried to steal pellets from the kudus. Gosh, they learn quickly.

Yesterday, my first day on six tablets of Prednisone cortisone (with upcoming tapering doses) for my outrageous case of no less than 100 hot, inflamed itching pepper tick bites, we decided to lay low to see how I felt rather than go out anywhere.

Mom proudly showed up in our garden with her four new piglets. It was hysterical to watch their playful antics when they’d yet to learn many of the ways of being a warthog.

It took about five hours after taking the tablets to begin to feel some relief, and I was ecstatic to finally feel the itching subside after an entire month of itching, as I’ve never known.

I was exhausted from weeks of no sleep and several times tried to take a nap. As commonly known, taking large doses of Prednisone makes it difficult to sleep, another problem I didn’t want to tackle. How could I go 12 more days, the course of the medication, without any sleep?

Surely, over time Mom will teach them the ways of being a good warthog, how to protect themselves, how to forage for food, and how to be charming for the residents of Marloth Park to elicit pellets.

Luckily, Dr. Theo is well aware of this difficult side effect of the medication and prescribed sleeping pills to go along with it. I’ve never taken prescription sleeping pills, although from time to time, I’ve taken a Tylenol (Paracetamol) PM tablet in the middle of the night when sleep becomes elusive.  

The effect of these over-the-counter sleep aids only lasts for a few hours, but a few hours of sleep can make a huge difference in how one feels the following day. Never a good sleeper since a child, I’d resigned myself to this reality and try to worry or think about it much, which only adds to the difficulty.

They were always looking around for something they could play with.

When I looked up the name of the drug Dr. Theo prescribed for sleep, enough for 15 nights, I realized it is the South African version of Ambien, which I’d never taken. I heard nightmarish stories about this drug which may cause dangerous and most unusual behaviors in some patients.

I deliberated over taking it at 2200 hrs (10:00 pm), and I didn’t feel the least bit sleepy. I decided to bite the bullet and take the 10 mg tablet. I’d read online that one should put down their phone, book, or whatever they’re doing and focus on going to sleep. If one’s brain is engaged, the tablet may not work.

At only weeks old, they’ve already learned to eat pellets and other tasty morsels they discover on their knees.

I played with my phone for 10 minutes and then placed it on the nightstand and lay quickly under the comfy covers in the air-conditioned bedroom, and surely by 10:30, I was sound asleep, never hearing Tom come to bed.  

I don’t recall a single dream. I know I awoke once but was too groggy to check the time and went straight back to sleep, not awakening until around 7:00 am.  I felt groggy and stumbled around for a while, but I felt great after a shower and getting dressed.

A considerable amount of time is spent pestering their mom.

It’s no wonder so many people use this drug with many cases of abuse, resulting in many becoming addicted. That won’t be me. I doubt I’ll even take them every night during this course of Prednisone. It would be nice to save them for a real emergency.  

As a matter of fact, in perusing through our inventory of preventive meds in our pill bag, I found an entire bottle of Ambien neither of us had ever taken, we’d requested years ago when we began our travels, a just in case thing for overnight flights. We never tried the first pill.

She was very easy-going and loving with each of them, even when they ate pellets intended for her.

As we read news from all over the world, we’ve discovered that prescription drug addiction is rampant in the US and other countries throughout the world, among senior citizens and the younger population.  

We can only imagine how difficult it would be for an individual to support and supply such an addiction while traveling the world. There is often a misconception about how easy it is to buy narcotic-type drugs in foreign countries. Still, surely it isn’t when we read nightmarish stories of tourists being arrested for drug possession.

They are too cute for words.

Most travelers can bring in enough medication to last during their stay in any country as long as the medication is accompanied by a recent valid doctor’s prescription from their home country.  

Sure, here in South Africa, we’ve been able to purchase a small supply of non-narcotic meds (such as for hypertension and thyroid) without a new prescription as long as the home country’s doctor’s prescription is shown, usually no more than a 28 day supply.  

Mom was constantly aware of possible predators, of which there are few in Marloth Park.  If they were in Kruger, it would be an entirely different story.

Beyond that, one must obtain a local doctor’s prescription, which requires an office visit, usually not covered by insurance. Our appointment with Dr. Theo on Thursday was ZAR 565 (US $40.77) a paltry amount compared to an office visit in the US and many other countries.

In any case, yesterday proved to be spectacular. The weekend holidaymakers had yet to arrive, and our garden was jam-packed with visitors, day and night.

They’d run around like crazy on their own and then suddenly return to mom for some attention.

Amid all the wonders, one of the highlights of the day (we’ll share another highlight tomorrow) was the visit of Mom warthog and her four new piglets, who most likely were only a few weeks old based on their size and demeanor. We couldn’t have been more excited about watching their playful antics.

Please take a moment (it’s short) to watch our above video. Seeing this, you’ll surely understand how fun it was for us during their hour-long visit. We couldn’t toss the pellets quickly enough.  

Mr. Bushbuck hid in the bush away from the annoying little creatures.

Their little mouths were almost still too small for the pellets, but even at this young age, they knew to use the warthog’s method of eating, kneeling on their knees. It was too cute for words.

Tonight we’re picking up Rita and Gerhard at the Hornbill house and heading out to Aamazing River View for sundowners and river watching. Kathy and Don will meet us there, and after the sunset, we’ll all head to Jabula for dinner, exactly our kind of evening.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow. Please check back and have a fantastic day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 24, 2017:

On Thanksgiving Day aboard the ship, Tom watched the Minnesota Vikings game before we had to leave for the muster drill.  For more photos, please click here.

Just couldn’t take the itching anymore…Off to see the doc…

A kudu drinking out of the birdbath in the garden.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Bushy-tailed bushbabies are huge compared to bushbabies in our garden. We took this photo at Jabula a few weeks ago.

After over a month of itching unbearably especially during the night and rarely getting enough sleep, I was becoming frustrated with these awful pepper tick bites, mostly on my arms and neck where my skin was exposed when we wandered through the bush toward the river. 

In every case, I had on tons of repellent but apparently, it doesn’t work for ticks. There are much harsher and toxic chemicals required to keep ticks at bay, including the tiny pepper ticks. They’re called pepper ticks since they are as tiny as a single fleck of finely ground pepper, not visible to the human eye.

Each time we see flowers and plants we now wonder if they are invasive alien plants that are awful for the local ecosystem and wildlife.

Yesterday, when we returned to the eye doctor for Tom to select his new glasses (first replacement lenses in over six years) and for me to pick up my new contact lenses, we first decided to stop at the local pharmacy to see if the pharmacist had any suggestions for the itching.

I’d already tried several creams to no avail and even took sleep-inducing Benedryl during the day, after trying two other antihistamines, in a desperate attempt at some relief for a few hours. Nothing, I mean nothing gave me any relief for more than an hour at most.

It appears pretty but does it belong here?

On a few occasions, I was hopeful the creams would help but they were so greasy and messy I was unable to wear repellent on top of them. I didn’t want to take the risk of getting more bites from mosquitos which have begun increasingly populating the bush with the recent rains and warmer weather.

A few days this week I hid away in the bedroom, wearing my long-john type pajamas with the air-con on, in an attempt to avoid the necessity of wearing any repellent. I still got a few more bites only adding to my discomfort.  

We call this pair of wildebeest, Dad & Son.  They aren’t frequent visitors like Wildebeest Willie but always welcome as are the zebras and warthogs.

Also, I didn’t want to have to spend our last three precious months in Marloth Park hiding in the bedroom. I needed some relief and a long-term solution. At the pharmacy when I showed the pharmacist my arms, she said I must go to the doctor immediately.

She explained I was at risk for tick-bite fever, a dreadful condition, and it appeared many of the bites were inflamed and on the verge of becoming infected. That freaked me out enough to send us to the doctor’s office down the road to ask for their next available appointment. As it turned out, she was right.

Lion lying under a tree, as seen from the fence between Marloth Park and Kruger National Park.

Dr. Theo scolded me a little for suffering for a month. Why hadn’t I come in sooner? I wish I knew the answer. Perhaps I was trying to “tough it out” and no be a whiney tourist running to the doctor with every little complaint. Hadn’t our six years of world travel toughened me up a bit?

In many ways, it has toughened me up but practicality must supersede pride and at 1630 hrs (4:30 pm) we returned to Komatipoort for the appointment with Dr. Theo.

Two male lions checking for possible dinner subjects.

In the interim, we’d planned dinner at Ngwenya with Rita and Gerhard which we had to cancel when we had no idea how long the appointment would take, and the trip to the pharmacy to collect my three prescriptions. Besides, I wasn’t feeling much like going out.

We haven’t seen them since they returned from Germany a few days ago and were disappointed to have to cancel. But, we have plans for dinner reservations at Jabula tomorrow night with Kathy and Don as well for the six of us. They’ve never met. It’s quite wonderful to introduce old friends to new friends.

Two Big Daddies, horns entangled in a little scuffle over pellets.

This morning, after eating as required, I started the big dose of Prednisone to be tapered over a period of 12 days. Hopefully, this will begin to reduce the severe itching which is by far the worst itching I’ve ever experienced in my life. I’m feeling confident this will work.

Since Prednisone can cause insomnia (yikes) the doctor suggested I take it in the morning. This morning, I took six pills as prescribed. If lucky I may experience improvement by tonight since I’m literally exhausted from lack of sleep for over a month due to the worsening of the itching at night.

No harm was done…back to being friendly.

Today is a low-key day. It’s cloudy and cooler and we’ve had tons of amazing visitors we’ll be sharing in tomorrow’s post.

We hope all of our USA friends and family had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday. Be well. Be happy.

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

We stopped to take this photo on the way to the airport in San Jose, Costa Rica.  This is a Northern Crested Caracara: “The northern crested caracara, also called the northern caracara and crested caracara, is a bird of prey in the family Falconidae.”  For more, please click here.

Rental car “safari luck!”…What????…How we’ve changed…Happy Thanksgiving to all our family and friends in the USA!!!

This Ford Fiesta is quite a step up from the previous little car.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Tucker’s left ear was severely injured a few months ago, but it has continued to heal, although he can no longer “perk it up.” Here he is at night, lying down at the edge of the veranda, relaxing after eating quite a few pellets. He’s a gentle little soul for having such giant tusks.

Yesterday’s drive to Nelspruit was relatively uneventful. The traffic was light.  Passing slow-moving trucks was easier than usual. And, the time seemed to fly by.

The interior of the car is nicer than any rental car we’d had since arriving in Africa.

Neither one of us enjoys long car trips, which may seem to contradict our love of travel. It’s just the method of travel that we don’t love, sitting in a car for hours while maneuvering our way in and out of traffic. 

The 75-minute drive (each way) to Nelspruit shouldn’t be that big of a deal. Still, somehow we’ve dreaded it each time we’ve had to go to the airport to pick up a new rental car or to fly somewhere from the Nelspruit Mpumalanga Kruger airport, or to the immigration office in the city, all which we’ve done quite a few times over these past many months.

It’s handy to have drink holders for our mugs.

Part of the reason the drive is less than enjoyable has been the noisy little rental cars we’ve had for six of the past nine months in South Africa. We received a free upgrade several months ago for a much better car making road trips more desirable.

Two important aspects of dealing with rental cars in South Africa is one; to always return the car spotlessly clean (interior and exterior) or charges for cleaning will be incurred and two; the gas tank must be refilled to complete at a nearby (to the airport) petrol station or anything less than full will be charged.  

They were huddling together in a small patch of water on the river.

Usually, there’s been a bit of leeway in filling the tank on a rental car, allowing a slight shortage from driving to the rental car return location. This is not the case in South Africa from what we’ve experienced thus far after renting four cars (three months each) in the past nine months (including yesterday’s new rental).

Once at the Hertz desk inside the airport terminal, after the car was inspected for fuel, cleanliness, and possible damages (no issues), Tom and the rep returned to the desk where the old and the new paperwork was processed.

Lots of moms and babies.

As the new paperwork was being prepared nonchalantly, I asked, “What type of car do we get this time?”  The rep replied, “Same as this last one.” I cringed.  
The little car was rickety, noisy, and had tires the size of a toy car, not ideal for these rough dirt roads in Marloth Park.  But, our goal has been not to pay a lot for rental cars. We’d rather spend our money on nice houses, good food and dining out at our leisure.

Elephants of all ages hanging out at the river.

The cost for the three-month rental periods over the past nine months has averaged at ZAR 13930 (US $1000), a paltry amount for a car for such an extended period. 

We’ve been willing to sacrifice quality, size, and convenience when a rental car only costs us about ZAR 4697 (US $330) plus fuel with virtually no additional maintenance expense.

Elephants along the Crocodile River on a hot sunny day.

The last time we picked up a car, three months ago, we were adamantly turned down when asking for a free upgrade. This time I was going to be more persistent. When I explained to the rep and his boss that we’ve been renting from them for an entire year (an infrequent occurrence), they were all over it.

We received a free upgrade for an adorable sporty red car, much nicer than we’ve driven since we were in the US in May/June 2017. We were thrilled. We still only had to pay the ZAR 14328 (US $967) for the three-month rental.

One bushbaby contemplating the entire cup of yogurt she doesn’t appear to have to share this time.

On the return drive to Marloth Park, we couldn’t believe how well Tom could hear me talk with his less-than-ideal hearing. And the smooth ride is astounding. We’re grateful and excited to have a good car for the balance of our time here. Whatever that may be.

The car is a Ford Fiesta. In my old life, I’d never have given this type of car a second thought. Now it seems like a luxury vehicle to me. It’s incredible how our appreciation of “things” changes when we go without for a while.

Ms. Bushbuck and baby. There are several Ms. Bushbucks and babies, with many more to be arriving soon.

I squealed with delight when Louise loaned me the giant rolling pin to make the pie crusts for our early Thanksgiving meal. See, we do change our perception of the value of the simple things in life.

Now, I have to get up to toss some pellets to a gnu, aka Wildebeest Willie, and a pig, warthog “Little,” who happened to stop by to see what was on the menu today…pellets, of course, as always.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 22, 2017:
There was no post one year ago today while we were boarding a cruise.

Off to Nelspruit…Return rental car for a new one…Still waiting for immigration response…

We drove past friends Kathy and Don’s home yesterday and their front garden was filled with kudus and impalas. See more photos from this scene below.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Our regular visitor, Medium, got busy with a mature female.  The gestation period is three months. The mating season is from September to December. We should begin seeing piglets soon. They may have from one to eight piglets.

This morning, as soon as we upload this post, we’re off to Nelspruit to drop off the little car and pick up another. This will be the last car we’ll rent while we hopefully remain in Marloth Park for three more months.

Bougainvillea has begun blooming in the park.

The rental car companies, in this case, Hertz, through Firefly will only rent a car for a 90 day period. Thus, we’ve had to start over at the end of each period.  

In the past, the rental return has coincided with our travels outside of South Africa to get our visa renewal for another 90 days. But this time, we’re waiting to hear from immigration if they’ll extend us to February 20th, the day we fly to Kenya for which we’ve already purchased airline tickets.

Waterbucks are much larger than they appear.  We rarely see them up close to grasp their actual size.  From this site: “This is a large, robust antelope. Bulls have a shoulder height of 1.4 meters and can weigh up to 260 Kg. (551 pounds)  Cows are smaller than bulls. Waterbucks have a brownish-grey shaggy coat. The eyes and nose are patched with white, and there is a white-collar under the throat. The rump has a characteristic white ring. The large rounded ears are a prominent feature. Only the bulls have long, forward-curved horns. Both sexes emit a, not unpleasant, musky smell which normally lingers at resting sites.”

No word as yet on our immigration status but we continue to check every few hours at this point. It would have been great if we could have been informed to appear in Nelspruit yesterday, today, or tomorrow.  

We could have changed the car rental return to a different day (the fee for doing so is minimal here) and “killed two birds with one stone” as they say, avoiding another long drive to Nelspruit.  

Proud mom showing her youngster the ways of the bush.

It could happen that they’re ready to give us an answer (must appear in person) in the next 48 hours and off we go again on the long drive. In the realm of things, it’s an inconvenience, nothing more.

Mom and young giraffe.

On the return drive today, we’ll stop at the bigger Spar Supermarket in Malelane to pick up a few groceries and avoid doing so tomorrow when we return to Komatipoort to visit the eye doctor to pick up my contact lenses and for Tom to select glasses from the supply the doc is bringing from his distant location.

At the moment Tom is at the local car wash. Rental cars must be returned in pristine condition or additional fees will be levied. This includes a spotless interior as well. The car wash at the Bush Centre charges ZAR 60 (US $4.28) for a beautifully hand-done interior and exterior wash.  

This mom or matriarch may be babysitting. These two young ones appear a few months apart in age.

We’re continually reminded how affordable things are here in South Africa.  Such a car wash in the US would easily be ZAR 351 (US $25). Once again we’ll experience “culture shock” when we return to the US for a visit in about four and a half months.

Apparently, they’d all jumped the fence at Kathy and Don’s house.

Yesterday was hot and humid with temps running at 40C (102F) and higher humidity than usual. Although it’s cloudy today it appears it will be another hot and humid day. Maybe spending three hours in the car in air-conditioned comfort won’t be so bad after all.

A little blurry from Kathy and Don’s garden but I couldn’t resist sharing this adorable impala face.

Yesterday, we did our usual drive, sighting a female lion beyond the fence.  Photos will follow tomorrow. Today, most likely we won’t return until around 1500 hrs (3:00 pm) after which I’ll finish making tonight’s dinner of iced cold dishes: chicken salad, egg salad, and tossed lettuce salad, a perfect meal for a hot day.

We’ll see you tomorrow with more!

Have a phenomenal day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 21, 2017:
There was no post on this date one year ago today.