Final social evening in the bush…Good news!!!…One day and counting…

Tom’s favorite, Ms. Bushbuck is totally comfortable near him. 

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Toad peeking out from the ornamental mask.

Last night, Kathy, Don, Linda, Ken and Louise and Danie arrived at 5:30 loaded up with prepared dishes and meats to cook on the grill.  It was an easy night for me when everyone pitched in while I simply sat at one end of the table with the girls while the boys carried on at the opposite end.

What a great evening was had by all.  Kathy, knowing how much I love steak and lobster brought along fantastic lobster tails she’d purchased in Pretoria, filet mignon steaks and baked potatoes.  
Closeup of our toad peeking out from a hole in a decorative mask.

Linda brought along a wonderful salad to share and chicken to cook on the braai and Louise and Danie brought a home roasted tongue with a fabulous mustard sauce and a bacon cabbage dish.  Little did they know I love tongue but hadn’t had it in years. 

Our plates were filled with tasty treats and of course, as always, the conversation was lively and animated.  Tonight we’ll spend our last evening together at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant and this time, since I now can sit, I’ll be able to attend.

Eventually, we stopped giving mongooses whole eggs and beat up the eggs in the green dish  That way there would be enough for everyone.

This morning we headed back to the doctor’s office for our final visit for the treatment on my leg and Doc Phillip’s assessment as to whether I need to go to a wound clinic every other day in distant Galway, Ireland, a 90-minute drive each way.

Much to both of our delight, the wound in continuing to heal and we’ll be able to treat it ourselves since it doesn’t require any more debridement and only needs to be cleaned with a special antibacterial liquid, have a silver based cream applied along with moist treated gauze and fresh sterile bandages added, along with a freshly washed pair of compression stockings.

Interesting marking on zebras, each of which is so unique.

I will continue to wear the compression stockings until the wound sufficiently heals, for an additional one to three months, when it no longer requires treatment and bandages.  The purpose of the compression stockings is to prevent dangerous blood clots from forming and they must be worn around the clock. 

Finally, I’ve become used to wearing them at night and they no longer cause my feet to burn during the night, a huge relief.  Last night when our friends asked how I was feeling overall (although they’ve asked almost every day) and I said “I’ve been so preoccupied with my legs, I hardly noticed the ongoing improvement in the healing from the bypass surgery.

Big Daddy, of whom there are many, comes to call on a sunny morning.

In two days, it will be three months ago since the bypass surgery and I can say without hesitation that I am almost totally healed.  I no longer need a pillow for my chest when driving on bumpy roads and I can sleep on my side without discomfort in my chest.  I can use my arms without pain in my chest which took two months or more to change.

“Retired Generals,” cape buffalo males who hang together after being kicked out of the herd when they lost the battle for dominance and the right to mate.

Surprisingly, I am not tired during the day and generally feel well except for the ongoing pain in my left leg which in no time at all should be healing. I can walk 6000 steps per days and within a month should be up to 10,000 steps per day, to be continued for the long haul.

Last night our friends complimented me saying I made it through this with bravery and strength.  I didn’t.  I whined and complained to my girlfriends (not so much to Tom since he had his hands full) and at times, I wondered if I’d ever get well.  

The Mrs. (francolin).

Their love and support saw me through and I’m no braver or stronger than anyone else who’d go through this difficult surgery and subsequent two legs surgeries on both legs.

But, here we are leaving Marloth Park tomorrow, traveling for 24 hours to finally arrive at our next location in our continuing world travels, Connemara, Ireland where we’ll stay for the next 90 days.  

Frank, our resident francolin was a regular, making his loud noise day and night, was always welcomed.

In three months from tomorrow, we’ll be on our first cruise since Antarctica, ending in February 2018.  We’ll be sailing in the Baltic Sea and at long last be able to visit St. Petersburg, Russia and many other amazing locations. 

Grateful to be alive?  Immensely.  Grateful for the love and caregiving support of my husband Tom who never faltered in the quality of his care?  Forever.  Grateful to the fine medical care in South Africa, especially Dr. Theo Stronkhorst?  We’ll never forget.  Grateful to our friends who stood by me through this difficult period?  Always. 

A leopard tortoise visited our garden.

And, grateful to the animals who always put a smile on our faces, made us laugh and cry and reminded us of the delicate balance of the relationships with humans and animals as we share this world with them, their world with us.

Tomorrow will be our final post from Marloth Park, from South Africa.  We have a very special story to share, a story of love and understanding in two different worlds and yet, in many ways, in one.


Photo from one year ago today, May 10, 2018:

We were thrilled to see a wildebeest in the yard this morning, an uncommon occurrence.  We named him “Wildebeest Willie” and he’s been a frequent visitor since.  For more photos, please click here.

Two days and counting…Favorite photos from Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe…Chobe National Park, Victoria Falls,

Alas, we arrived at the magical splendor of Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Kudus is stopping by for a bit of breakfast.

Gosh, it’s hard to believe it was a year ago that we left South Africa for Zambia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe for sightseeing and a possible visa extension. To get a visa extension, travelers must depart to a country that isn’t bordering South Africa at any point.  

In the shallow area of Victoria Falls, we were gifted with a rainbow, but this was the first of many we saw throughout the day.
Zambia was a perfect choice, and from there, we visited Zimbabwe and Botswana. We had the opportunity to see Victoria Falls from both Zambia and Zimbabwe, which were two entirely different scenarios. We enjoyed every moment of finally being able to see the famous waterfalls.
I was happy to see Tom safely return from climbing to the top of the wet slippery bridge he tackled without me.  I’m not reasonably as surefooted as he is. It was slickthe visibility was poor, and I wouldn’t have been able to take photos in the heavy mist, so I stayed behind with Alec while we awaited his return. I was getting worried when he’d been gone a long time. Seeing him in his yellow poncho made me sigh with relief.
From this siteWhile it is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, Victoria Falls is classified as the largest, based on its combined width of 1,708 meters (5,604 ft.) and height of 108 meters (354 ft.), resulting in the world’s largest sheet of falling water.”

Also, we’d heard so much about Chobe National Park and the Chobe River. For years, I’d longed to do a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River, and as it turned it, we did it all, thrilled we had an opportunity to see so much.
The sights and sounds of Victoria Falls from both the Zambia and Zimbabwe sides were unlike anything we’ve seen in the past.

We spent a week on these trips, details and more of which may be found in the archives beginning on May 12, 2018, and continuing for several days. Please check out the links for more exciting photos and adventures during this fantastic trip.

After this elephant dug a decent-sized mud hole, he decided to try to lay on his side. Digging the hole must have been exhausting for this big fellow in the heat of the sun.  Please click here and scroll down to the videos for four stunning videos of him swimming in the Chobe River.

As it turned out, once again, we needed a visa extension, and we returned in August for more exciting tours.  More on this later. In any case, it was fun to see other African countries. To date, we’ve been to nine countries on the African continent, which is nothing compared to its total of 54.  

There are no less than a dozen countries in Africa it’s unlikely we’ll ever visit, which present enormous risks for tourists. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed being in Africa but don’t want to take any unnecessary risks.  

The best snorkeling apparatus on the planet…his trunk. His huge feet were no longer touching the river bottom, and he was buoyant.

We’re often asked if we’ll return to Africa, and that’s definitely on our itinerary, especially when we’ve booked a cruise to Cape Town in two years. However, what will transpire at immigration in Johannesburg will determine when we’ll be allowed to re-enter the country. We’ll see how that goes and report back during our upcoming lengthy travel day.

During our sunset cruise on the Zambezi River, we spotted these bee-eaters making nests and burrows into holes they made in the river bank.

As for posting on our upcoming long travel day, Saturday, May 11th, we will upload a post in the morning before we depart for Nelspruit airport. We’ll arrive in Connemara on Sunday afternoon, and if time allows, we’ll upload a short post indicating we’ve arrived.  

Sunset on the Zambezi River.

If you don’t see a post on Sunday, it will be due to an arrival later than we’d expected, and we’ll wait until the following day. At that point, we’ll have been traveling for 24 hours or more and maybe too tired to do so.

Riding the ferry is free for people but not for vehicles between Zambia and Botswana but, to disembark requires removing one’s shoes and walking in the water.

I’m going from recuperating in a mostly lying-down position to a 24-hour travel day. I have no idea how well I’ll feel when we arrive. But, please rest assured that after some rest and one night’s sleep, we’ll be right back here writing to all of you.

Of course, I’d be lying if I said I was totally at ease in anticipation of this long travel day. My number one objective will be to walk every hour on the various flights except when fully reclined in my business class seat in the middle of the night.

Albert, our guide, prepared “tea time” before we entered the Chobe National Park.

Ah, let’s hope it all goes smoothly. There’s only a 90-minute layover in Johannesburg, and that’s where we’ll have to deal with immigration. If the process is lengthy, we could miss the flight. My being in a wheelchair will hopefully speed up the waiting time in the lines at immigration.

That’s it for today, folks. We’re hoping you all have a peaceful and stress-free day!

Note:  Due to a WiFi signal issue this morning, the line and paragraph spacing are “off,” preventing me from correcting the situation.

Photo from one year ago today, May 9, 2018:

An elephant taking a drink from the river. For more photos, please click here.

Three days and counting…Getting it all together…Favorite photos and videos…

Big Daddy seems happy as he watches his girlfriend eat pellets.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Mating time for kudus and other antelopes.  From this site: Male kudus may form small bachelor groups, but they are more commonly found as solitary and widely dispersed individuals. Solitary males will join the group of females and calves (usually 6-10 individuals per group) only during the mating season (April–May in South Africa).”

After spending 15 months in Marloth Park, except for a few weeks away when we visited Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia, we’ve accumulated more “stuff” than we ever have at any other holiday home in the past over 6½ years we’ve been traveling the world.

Elephants at the Vurhami Dam helping a newborn stand for the first time.
As I gingerly began packing (favoring my painful leg in the process), I’ve found it challenging to sort through the various products and items we’ve acquired, many of which are medically related due to the four surgeries of the past three months; three pairs of compression stocking in various strengths; a variety of bandages; a sheepskin to prevent bedsores; special slippers; and protein powders (which I am still using daily).  
This video has had more hits than any other of our videos, with, as of today, there have been 1,441,145 views.  Go figure.  For more of our videos, please click here or type my name, Jessica Lyman Videos, in google search or YouTube.
Add the six months of eight different medications I have to take for my heart, and the formerly lightly packed pill bag is brimming to the top. As always, I’ll place the pill bag in the yellow Costco bag as one of my two carry-on bags. I particularly don’t want to let this out of my sight this time.
There were few clothing items I purchased while here; two pairs of warm pajamas, a sweater, and a sweatshirt-type jacket for the cool winter nights, all of which I’ll be able to use in Ireland.  
This elephant dug a hole in the soil at Vurhami Dam, searching for water during the dry season. He succeeded and was soon drinking.  What a joy to see this!
In the summer months, the temperatures range between 18C (64F) and 20C (68F). There are 18 hours of daylight. It doesn’t get dark until 2300 hours, 11:00 pm. The evenings will be relaxed, and no doubt, we’ll need to bundle up after the hot temps we’ve become accustomed to over these past 15 months.
With our recent package on-the-move from the US, arriving at the house within a few days according to DHL tracking (it’s going through customs in Shannon at this time), I’ll have a few more sweaters, long-sleeved tee shirts, and two pairs of jeans I’d ordered from Old Navy in the US.  
And then there were more…

Tom, who doesn’t get as cold as me, has a few sweatshirts, a flannel shirt, and a few long-sleeved shirts, which will serve him well. We’ll be set for the upcoming cooler climate.

I am looking forward to the cooler weather. Wearing the heavy compression stockings for the past three months has left me sweating during the hot and humid days. I’ll only have to wear the compression stockings for a few more weeks after we arrive in Ireland or when we go on long car rides and future flights.

Lots of mongooses in the garden.

Tom has yet to pack but will do so soon. I no longer remind him to get packing.  He knows we’re leaving, and as far as I’m concerned, he can do it whenever he likes. I fold his dressier shirts for him since he doesn’t do it quite as neatly.  

Throughout the day, I’ve continued the walking, which seems to be having a somewhat beneficial effect on my legs, although not as profoundly as I’d like. By Friday morning’s doctor appointment, we’ll know if I’ll need further treatment at a wound clinic in Ireland. If we don’t have to make a three-hour drive every other day, we’ll be thrilled beyond words.  

The dark coloration on Big Daddy’s neck is a result of sex hormones.  It changes to the color of the remainder of his body when the mating season ends.

Today, we’re sharing a few videos along with a few favorite photos, some of which we’ve taken in the past few days. Our wildlife friends continue to visit hour after hour, especially in the early morning and early evening. Tom opened our last bag of pellets, which should last until we leave on Saturday.

Tonight, we’ll cook our last flattie on the braai and enjoy a quiet evening.  

May your day and evening be rich and fulfilling.

Photo from one year ago today, May 8, 2018:

We were so close to this giraffe it was easy to get this photo. For more photos, please click here.

The falling leaves…Lion sighted in MP!…More visitors come to say goodbye…Four days and counting….

I was looking through the fence at the Crocodile River from the Marloth Park side.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Elephants were grazing in this lush area.

It’s fall here in South Africa. With the slightest breeze, the leaves fall and then scatter in the garden and onto the veranda. I’d hoped we’d experience cooler weather this last week as it rolls into fall. But alas, it’s still been hot and humid, most days around 32C (90F) which feels cooler than many other days over the past summer months.

One of our favorite experiences in Marloth Park in the past 15 months was that this mom and a single chick were looking for dad.

The water was returned to service on Monday. Fortunately, we were only out for a short period when we turned on the surplus tank and pump.  When the water returned, the faucets spewed a brown dirty looking flow.  

I’m still doing “sponge baths” with purified water each day. I haven’t been able to shower since my legs became infected for fear the less-than-ideal water contained bacteria which may have contributed to the source of the infections.

They began to hike down the road, Volstruis, which means ostrich.  Go figure.  They are often found on this road.

Surprisingly a good head-to-toe scrubbing with a rough washcloth and antibacterial soap has served me well each day, certainly as good as a shower. Plus, it has enabled me to keep the bandages and wounds dry, which, if wet, would be detrimental to the healing process.

The ostrich has the largest eyes of any land animal.  The giant squid has the largest eyes of a marine animal.

Yesterday, wearing my new BFit device on my wrist, I managed to get in 6000 steps for the day.  I can now see it won’t be too hard to get to 10,000 steps a day or more once we get to Ireland, and I’m further along in recovery.  

Wearing the device made all the difference in the world to my motivation and kept the boredom of walking indoors to a minimum. Unfortunately, my cheap smartphone (to be replaced when we get to the US in six months) cannot sync with the app for the device on the phone.  

Mom stopped dead in her tracks when she spotted him a long distance down the road.  Look closely to see him.

And the app can’t sync on my PC either, making it a bit frustrating to only read the stats on the face of the device itself. Because it won’t sync by Bluetooth to my phone, the time on the device is off by over an hour.  

They all picked up the pace as they got closer.

I got ambitious today and loaded the app on Tom’s newer Samsung phone to get the correct time and date. Also, if I wanted to look at a more detailed readout, I could use his phone when he’s not using it.  It didn’t work on his phone either.

We’ve learned to improvise when we live, where access to the newest technological devices is limited. The fitness watch is a South African-made device, as is my difficult-to-use cheap smartphone.  

The chick was anxiously heading right for dad.

That’s not to imply all products made in this country are inferior. They’re not. But, less expensive off-label brands in any country may easily be inferior, and in both cases, that’s what I’m dealing with.

Yesterday, we received a message and read on Facebook that a female lion had been seen on the loose about three blocks from here. Of course, the already existing nighttime curfew was reminded to all locals and visitors with vigilant daytime precautions.

Note dad and chick were playing in the bush while mom kept watching from the road. Amazing!!!

There’s no way of knowing if the lion has returned to bordering Kruger National Park unless someone specifically sees her crawling back under the fence that enabled her to escape in the first place. That is highly unlikely. As time passes and no sightings are reported, one can assume she’s returned to her usual territory, which is likely.  Lions are highly territorial.  

More of our favorite visitors have come to call. For me, the most exciting was Little when he dropped by yesterday afternoon for quite a lengthy visit. He ate pellets lying down as he prefers, listened intently while I spoke to him, had a drink from the cement pond, and rested in the garden. I stayed on the veranda watching him for some time, thinking about how much I will miss him.

This morning, Mike and Joe (named after US vice presidents), Basket and his girl, One Tusk,  Frank and The Misses., Big Daddy,  Little Daddy, Cupid, dozens of helmeted guineafowls, and many more stopped by. Surely, sometime today, the large band of mongooses will cackle their way into the garden.

At 11:00 am, we’re heading to the home of the lovely woman who loaned us a walker, which we’re returning with a few bottles of sundowner beverages as our thank you.

For the remainder of today, we’ll continue organizing and sorting items to be packed, stopping each time a new visitor comes by, offering them treats when soon Tom will open our last 40 kg (88 pounds) bag of pellets. There’s enough in the bag to get us through the next few days until we leave early afternoon Saturday to make our way to Nelspruit to the tiny airport to begin our journey.

Tomorrow morning, it’s back to the doctor to hopefully get good news that the wound is on the mend to avoid the necessity of driving three hours a day, three times a week, to a wound clinic in Ireland.

Oops!  Did I hear the roar of a lion?  Hmm…

Happy day!
                                               Photo from one year ago today, May 7, 2018:

A baby kudu found comfort standing at the base of this tree when there was lots of action in our yard. For more photos, please click here.

Sorting the details…They are all coming to say “goodbye”…Five days and counting…Today’s photos and more favorite photos

Nyala wasn’t taking any guff from a zebra trying to abscond with his pellets. He need only tap his horns on the ground one time to get the message across, which we’ve often seen Big Daddies do as well.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

We’re always in awe of the beauty of a waterbuck, in this case, a female who doesn’t have horns.

It may sound not very smart to think that our favorite wildlife is coming to say goodbye to us. However silly it may sound, we’re humoring ourselves to believe it’s true. Over the weekend, we had a giraffe in the garden, all of our favorite kudus and zebras, warthogs, duikers, and bushbucks.

This morning it was a menagerie with Frank and The Misses, Cupid, the kudu with the heart-shaped marking on her neck, Basket and his new girlfriend, Sigfried and Roy, Wildebeest Willie, five zebras, 11 kudus, and again more mongooses (more than 60) and helmeted guineafowl, more than we could count.

White dots on the right side of nyala’s head.

Now, I wait patiently, this lovesick-pig-lover I am, waiting to see Little one more time. He hasn’t been around in over a week, and I wonder what has kept him away.

Yesterday, on Facebook, we saw a photo of Tusker taken many blocks from us. Basket had scared him off several times in the past months, and he finally gave up visiting us since Basket tends to come by several times a day.  

It’s good to see Basket being lovely to his girlfriend.  He’s quite the bully, but he certainly enjoys when I talk to him and, with those tiny beady eyes, looks intently into mine.  I often wonder what he’s thinking.
We couldn’t have been happier than to see nyala coming by one more time.

It’s arrogant of us humans to assume animals don’t think and purely react utilizing instinct. After spending almost two years (total) in Africa, most of our time watching wildlife behavior, we’re convinced that although they don’t speak (our language), they certainly know how to communicate with us.

Undoubtedly, such behavior requires a fraction of thinking, and we’re convinced that we aren’t superior to wildlife. We’re just different, and they have a right to be here on this earth as much as we do, if not more.  They were here long before us humans.

Friends have asked if it will be hard to leave here. Now with only five days remaining until we depart, I am feeling a bit of melancholy knowing we are leaving behind our animal and human friends. 

A male bushbuck was relaxing in the garden.

But, these past three months have been difficult, and I can’t help but associate this environment with the many challenges.  I’m sure, in no time at all, I’ll be longing to return as memories of the wildlife and our social life flood my mind.  

This morning at 9:00 am, we returned to the medical clinic for treatment on my leg. Doc Theo had left for a much-deserved 10 day holiday, and now we see Doc Phillip in his absence. Unexpectedly, there was a slight improvement in the size of the wound, maybe as much as 20%.

Although painful, I sincerely believe the walking has been instrumental in increasing the blood flow and thus aiding in the bit of healing. If this continues through the week, there is a slight chance we could avoid driving three hours a day, every other day, to a wound clinic in Galway.

This morning’s zebra visitors.

We could treat the wound at “home” wearing latex gloves, using the healing cream, and re-bandaging it every other day as is being done now. By the end of the week, we’ll forward the photos to Theo, and if he approves, we can bypass the necessity of the long drive.  

He insisted we stay in touch with him while he’s still on holiday and, after that, sending him photos each time we removed the bandages. In the interim, Doc Phillip is sending him photos every two days. He will assess the photos and determine if other professional care is necessary.

I’m not going to get overly enthusiastic yet. I’ve done this several times to be sorely disappointed when it took a turn for the worse a few days later. It’s been sweet when many of our readers have written to congratulate me on the improvement, only to find myself writhing in pain a day later. Tentatively, I mention this slight improvement.

This morning, I figured out how to use my new fitness watch, which Tom purchased for me while I was in hospital. It was highly motivating to see the results of my walking on the digital readout. My goal shortly will be 10,000 steps per day.

An elephant family was drinking from the sparse amounts of water in the river during the summer months.

From this site “How far are 10,000 steps? An average person has a stride length of approximately 2.1 to 2.5 feet. That means that it takes over 2,000 steps to walk one mile, and 10,000 steps would be almost 5 miles.”  

Of course, this will include general walking about the house, going outdoors, and performing usual household tasks, cooking, shopping, and the like. But, this goal of 10,000 steps per day will be good for my heart and as my legs continue to heal fully. Wearing this device is highly instrumental in motivating me.  

I’ll have completed half this amount since walking is still challenging and painful by the end of today.  Hopefully, by the end of the first month in Ireland, I’ll be able to fulfill my goal.  

They willingly share.

Today, we’re planning to return the walker to the kindly local homeowner who graciously offered it a no cost. Of course, we have a gift bag for her with many thanks and appreciation. 

I made a concerted effort not to use the walker over the weekend, and now, although I’m still limping, I can get around unassisted. It’s still difficult to stand from a sitting position or get out of bed when I only have the use of my arms to support me, but finally, they, too, are getting stronger.

I’ve completed more packing, organizing, and sorting at this point. If I had only an hour to get ready to go, I could pull it off. The task of scanning and logging receipts is completed.  

Ms. Toad, already fattening up for mating soon. We turn on the light each night to attract flying insects for her to eat.

Our paperwork for immigration is in an envelope, ready for their reviewal. A rental car has been booked at over twice the cost we paid in South Africa (we’re expecting everything to be more expensive in Ireland). 

The directions to the Connemara house have been printed, and a wheelchair has been arranged for me for all flight legs. All that is left is for Tom to pack and a few odds and ends for me. I’m at peace that I’ve done all I can at this point.

Mom is teaching her baby a little about headbutting.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow as we continue to count down the days until we leave Africa.

Be well, dear friends. Thank you for “hanging in there” with us!

Photo from one year ago today, May 6, 2018:

Although they all had their backs to us, it was great to see these elephants. For more photos, please click here.

Happy hippos…Lounging lions and more in favorite photos…Six days and counting…Still no water…

When visitors first come to Africa, they often confuse cheetahs and leopards. Cheetahs are easily recognized by the dark “tears” coming down their faces.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Yesterday afternoon, we couldn’t have been more thrilled to see a giraffe in our garden. He took off quickly when he saw us, so this was the best photo I could take.

Thank goodness we have a JoJo tank in our garden that provides water from a tall tank and pump. Otherwise, this would be our second day without water. It’s unfortunate for those who don’t have a tank and must use bottled water for all their needs over these past few days.

For new visitors, male lions have the big mane surrounding their faces, whereas the females do not, as shown in the photo we took in Kruger.
A water main burst on Oliphant Street, the main and only fully paved road in Marloth Park. With it being the weekend, most likely, it won’t be repaired until later tomorrow.  
Two females and one male enjoying the shade under a tree in hot weather.

Of course, we’re grateful for the tank, and it does provide heated (not drinkable) water for anything we need.  Tom goes outside to turn it off when we go to bed. It makes a loud motor sound every few minutes and is located close to the bedroom window.  It’s loud enough it would keep us awake.

I believe this is a bateleur we spotted in Kruger.

The aircon makes various loud noises throughout the night, but we’ve had plenty of time to become accustomed to these sounds, and they no longer awaken us during the night. Speaking of awakening during the night…oh, I had a rough night last night.  

I was awake from shortly after midnight until 4:30 am and finally dozed off, awakening every half hour or so until I finally gave up and got up. I suppose I can blame my thoughts on keeping me awake. I couldn’t seem to shut off my brain while thinking about the upcoming long travel day with three flights and two layovers.

Last October, Tom and I were at Aamazing River View when friends Lois and Tom visited for three weeks.

I also thought about our immigration issue and if we’ll have trouble exiting the country when we never got a response from the immigration department regarding our requested extension. Most likely, we’ll have to pay a stiff fine if they won’t allow our accompanying documents to support the reasons for overstaying.

Lois and Tom, friends from the US who came to visit us for three weeks last October. We had a fantastic time when they called and stayed with us.  We hear from them often.

Then, of course, I was thinking about the issue of further treatment on my leg when we get to Ireland. After considerable research, it appears there are no wound facilities within a 90-minute drive from where we’ll be living in Connemara. The closest such clinic is in Galway, and we’ll have to make the drive every other day for treatment which could last for a few more months.

Three elephants on the river.

The doctor says the wound is too severe for us to handle it on our own. Only the next few days will determine if there is even a remote possibility we could take the care of the wound on our own if, based on some miracle, it’s improved since Friday, which I doubt. 

I want to be optimistic enough to say these three scenarios don’t worry me, and I can sleep like a baby. Still, until we have the three more doctor appointments here in the days before we depart and finally arrive in Ireland, our minds won’t be at ease. That’s the way it is.

Lilies are beginning to bloom in the river.

Yesterday, hobbling about the bedroom, I packed all of my clothing from the drawers and closet into my one large suitcase. There still is plenty of additional packing to tackle, but I feel I have a good handle on the most challenging part, my clothing.

Shortly after I was done, we had two surprise visitors, Sonja and Rob, the owners of this house. It was delightful talking to them and sharing stories of beautiful experiences we’ve had in their lovely home and garden. 

Lounging lion laying low…

As renters for the past 15 months, we had plenty to share as they did as well for their lives in Africa, living in the bordering country of Mozambique. We thanked them profusely for letting us stay so long and especially for designing the perfect veranda for wildlife viewing.

Hyenas are necessarily handsome-looking dogs but are fun to see in Kruger.

Most homes in Marloth Park have ground-level verandas, and some require walking up a flight of stairs or two to get a glimpse of the wildlife.  It has been perfect here, a scenario that served us well.

Today, I’ll do a little more packing of only a few items in the cupboards we can take with us. After all the unexpected expenses we’ve incurred as a result of the surgeries, there’s no way we’re willing to pay for overweight luggage by taking food products with us.

Happy hippos…

It’s hard to believe that we’ll be settling into our new home in Ireland a week from today. Although we have these various items on our minds that we must deal with over the following months, we’re hopeful for the quality time we’ll spend reveling in the peaceful and exquisite environment of Connemara, Ireland.

May your day be spent reveling in your surroundings wherever you may be.

Photo from one year ago today, May 5, 2018:

This gorgeous feta, onion, and lettuce salad served by Louise and Danie was enhanced with edible flowers, indicative of the attention to detail and creativity these two fine hosts possessed when we joined them for dinner at their home. For more photos, please click here.

Ironing out the wrinkles…One week and counting…More favorite photos…

A tower of five giraffes on the road in Marloth Park.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Lots of bushbabies on the stand.

In yesterday’s post, I stated we hadn’t had a power or water outage in the past week or two, commenting I shouldn’t say such a thing or it will happen. Alas, this morning, we have no water. Go figure.

It’s hard to imagine that I will be able to fly a week from today. The pain in my leg is still challenging, especially after getting up in the morning when I lie in the same position all night long, now on my left side.

As the day wears on, it seems to feel a little better, but now that the doctors insist I started walking again, it’s more painful than ever. Yesterday, I only managed to get in 20 minutes of walking.  

Moments later, there were seven giraffes.

It’s not that I’m not demanding and can’t take the pain. It’s more so that my left leg won’t cooperate and I risk falling if I walk more than 20 minutes, in two 10-minute increments. I can’t put my foot flat on the floor, and one can only walk so far, unaided while tiptoeing. Need I say, this is a bit frustrating.

Last night (time difference), I called the airline to request disability handling during the three flights, including a wheelchair at each of the airports.   The hardest part will be getting up the stairs to the small plane in Nelspruit and then down the steep, narrow steps when the plane lands in Johannesburg. I’ll need help on either side of me since steps are challenging to navigate.

Giraffes in the bush in the neighborhood.

We’ve yet to receive a visa extension, but we’re bringing all the documents necessary to substantiate the reason for our late exit. We’re hoping this doesn’t delay us in Johannesburg and cause us to miss our next flight when there is only has a 90-minute layover. 

I’ll have to pack dinner for myself since the airline won’t have any foods I can eat at the dinner service. Because I’m flying business class, the meal might be upgraded, but I doubt there will be anything I can eat.  

Mom and four piglets when they were newborns. Now, they are almost full-sized and spirited and come to visit nearly every day.

Usually, the food situation doesn’t bother me, but this time it’s a little different…I need to eat high amounts of protein each day. Thus, I’ll have my protein smoothie before we leave for the airport and bring along a few hard-boiled eggs and some nuts to hold me over. After all, it’s only one 24-hour period.

The boys are here cleaning the house now, but once they leave, I will pack my main suitcase and get that out of the way. All I’ll leave out will be clothes to wear the next several days, including travel day.  

Big Daddy by candlelight.

We’ll pack the third of our three suitcases with the toiletries for our afternoon departure next Saturday and our few carry-on bags. We’re lightening our load this time and will only have the three bags and two carry-on bags each. We won’t have to pay for excess baggage based on my flying business class since I’m allowed two checked bags at no extra cost.

I’ve completed logging all the receipts and only have a small amount to scan, which I’ll do this weekend. I’m leaving all the spices and condiments in the cupboards, per Louise’s suggestion, only bringing a few items that will be hard to find. There are a few bags of clothing we’ll pass on to the boys for their large families and miscellaneous items they may be able to use. 

This is a grouping of those dangerous caterpillars that can cause a severe reaction if they contact humans or animals.

I’ve wondered how I will be able to pack when it’s hard to stand and maneuver. I still have the walker for a few more days, and it has an ample-sized basket I can load with clothing.  

Tom will place the open suitcase on the bed, and I’ll be able to sit while I fold and pack the items. Tom would be more than willing to pack for me, but I want to go through the items to ensure I don’t bring anything I can’t use.  

The same caterpillars as shown above making a contiguous “train” as they make their way from the veranda to the garden. The local workers refer to these as “the devil.”

The only clothing items I’ve accumulated while here were warm pajamas and a few sweaters, which I’ll be able to use in Ireland, where it’s cool in the summer, and Minnesota in November, where it will be freezing. I’m confident I’ll be grateful to have those few items on hand.

Hopefully, by the end of today, I’ll have the bulk of my packing completed and the accompanying peace of mind. Again, today and over the next several days, we’ll be eating the food we have left in the refrigerator/freezer, the chest freezer, and the cupboards. It appears we may have enough to get us through until we go.  
Female giraffes have hair on the end of their ossicones.  The hair on the back of the male’s ossicones becomes worn off from fighting for dominance.

Have a pleasant weekend!

Photo from one year ago today, May 4, 2018:

This sweet mom bushbuck is warm and friendly, having won the hearts of many residents in the park, including us. For more photos, please click here.

What to wear??…No power outages…No water outages…Package shipped…Eight days and counting…

Fish eagles often land on dead trees, which enable them to scour the area for food. They are also known to eat carrion and fish and are classified as kleptoparasites (they steal prey from other birds). Goliath Herons are known to lose a percentage of their catch to fish eagles. Their main diet is fish, sometimes dead, but mostly caught live. Catfish and lungfish are seen most frequently.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Vervet monkeys are cute and fun to watch but are highly destructive, especially if they get inside the house.

For the first time since the bypass surgery on February 12th, I can wear a regular pair of Capri-length jeans. The incision on the inside of my right thigh was so painful these past few months, the seam from any regular jeans or pants caused considerable pain and irritation.

This morning I decided to give it a try since I’ve been tired of wearing the same few pairs of pajama bottoms and one pair of leggings over and over again. I couldn’t believe it when I was able to put on the jeans and feel perfectly comfortable.

This is a huge relief to me when I’ve been wondering what I’d wear on upcoming travel day. I didn’t want to wear pajama bottoms in public. When I see people wearing them, I cringe.  

A giraffe in the bush checking out her surroundings.

Also, I didn’t want to wear the only pair of leggings I have knowing that after eight hours or so, the knees would start to look baggy, and I’d hate that. I’d considered wearing tight and stretchy workout leggings, but they’d cause too much pressure on the bad left leg.

So I put on the jeans, which are a little stretchy and now a little baggy since I lost weight, and I was thrilled. I’ll have to continue wearing the compression stockings for months, which will show, but they are an identical match to my skin color, and I doubt anyone will notice and point the finger at the “woman wearing pantyhose with her jeans.”  

A fish eagle, one of the most prolific eagles in Kruger National Park.

If they do point and stare, including at the scar at my neckline, I don’t care. I’m alive and that’s what matters. And besides, I’m on my way to a three month holiday in Ireland with my loving husband. What more could a girl ask for?

When I pulled the jeans out of the drawer I hadn’t opened in months, I was reminded that packing in on the immediate horizon. It’s a task I’m anticipating with a certain amount of dread this time when I’ll have to deal with my painful leg while doing so.

Sure, Tom would pack for me, but I need to be moving about to build more strength, and packing may be one of many means in doing so. Yesterday, although painful, I walked for 20 minutes in two 10-minute increments. Today, I’ll do three 10-minute increments and keep building from there. Its a work in progress.

A young male kudu at a nearby construction site.

This morning at 10:15, we return to Dr. Theo’s office to see Doc Phillip, who will continue with the debridement of my leg. We already said goodbye to Doc Theo on Wednesday when we saw him for the last time since he was going on holiday for 10 days.  

I’m still hanging onto the hope that my leg will heal enough in the next eight days to avoid the necessity of going to a wound clinic in Galway, Ireland, an over an hour drive each way. HMakingthat drive every few days would be frustrating and impose upon our plans for the time we’ll spend in the country.  


Although we’ve had a few WiFi outages in the past few weeks, we’ve been fortunate not to experience any power or water outages. (I suppose by my saying this, both will go out this afternoon! It’s got to be a coincidence!) what a weird thing that is…one says they haven’t had a cold in years, and the next day they awaken with a cold. Go figure.

It’s made life so much easier the past weeks, especially at night when we need aircon on more than ever. The compression stockings make my legs and feet so hot, I need the cool air to allow me to sleep. Luckily, last night, we both slept well.

This toxic caterpillar is to be avoided at all costs.  The hairs can cause a toxic reaction and considerable distress.

Last night I received an email from Eric at our mailing service in Nevada, MailLinkPlus.  The cost to ship the box to Ireland, the quickest service offered by DHL, is ZAR 4882, US $340. It is scheduled to arrive on May 8th but based on going through customs, it could take an additional week or more.  

I alerted the holiday homeowner about the pending package arrival, asking her to pay any customs fees included, which we’ll reimburse her upon arrival. Hopefully, all goes well with the delivery.

There’s nothing as pretty as a full moon.

That’s all for today, dear readers.  Just think, in 10 days we’ll be posting photos of our new surroundings in the quaint and historic town of Connemara, Ireland. As hard as it will be to say goodbye to all of our Marloth Park friends, both human and animal, we’re very excited to step into this new chapter of our lives.

Be well. Be happy. We’ll be thinking of YOU!

Photo from one year ago today, May 3, 2018:

Zebra nursing in our garden. For more photos, please click here.

Shipping packages internationally…More favorite photos…

We often see mongooses in the garden resting their chins on branches, rocks, or each other.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Each day, a mating pair of hornbills stop by and ask for birdseed which we place on the table and the container.  If we don’t quickly respond to their noisy request, they bang on the window glass until we do.

As many of our regulars readers are well aware, every four to six months, we have a shipment of accumulated supplies we’ve ordered and had sent to our mailing service in our home state of Nevada, MailLinkPlus, which may be reached at this link.

Each year we renew our oversized mailbox in October at ZAR 2251, US $156 per year. In addition, we pay fees for scanned mail (per our request) to be placed into our online file for review at ZAR 28, US $2 per page.  
A young bull, most likely ostracized from the herd as he matured, wanders down the hill in Kruger to the Crocodile River.

In most cases, when a piece of snail mail has been scanned, and we either print it (unlikely) or read it, we can check in their system that the item is to be shredded to keep from accumulating clutter in the box.  

Possibly, a mom and her two offspring, most likely born five years apart or more, which is typical for elephants.

Subsequently, the only mail in our mailbox at any given time are items we want to save for when we return to Nevada and will collect at that time, or if necessary (such as tax documents) have forwarded to us in the next shipment.

Rarely, regardless of where we’re living at any given time, it makes no sense to send items to us via the “regular” postal service. Most recently, a box we’d been waiting for months became lost in a pile of 7.5 million undelivered items in South Africa when there was a strike.  

A young monitor lizard was climbing a tree in our garden.

Our package was inside a shipping container in Pretoria. We’d later heard stories of packages never being delivered or taking as long as three years to be delivered.  We should have known better than to ship a much-needed package via US Postal Service to South Africa, especially when we were unable to purchase insurance on the package.

The US Postal Service is aware that South Africa’s mailing service is horrible and refuses to insure packages. The result for that particular package? Money…we paid ZAR 2000, US $139, to have the package found and delivered to us in Marloth Park by a postal service employee. Money speaks loud and clear.

A mom and her calf cooling off in the river.

But, now, as we’ve accumulated several items in our mailbox in Nevada, we decided to have the package shipped to us in Ireland, not here in South Africa. The owner of the holiday rental provided us with the address and advised us to use DHL.

This morning, I went through all the items in our large mailbox in Nevada, and object by item either marked; 1. Keep in the mailbox (for future reference or handling); 2. Send with the next shipment or, 3. Throw away.

The sugar cane burning season has started once again, during which we get soot on the veranda and even into the house when the wind is blowing.

Each item is listed by the return address on the letter or package. With this, we can recognize 90% of the mail to determine if we want it sent to us, tossed, or saved.

The essential items in today’s shipment are our two debit cards. We’re hoping the package will arrive before we get to Ireland since both of our debit cards, which we use to get cash at ATMs, will be in that box. We’ll be arriving in Ireland with literally not a single euro on hand or means of getting money to use while there. 

Initially, we set up our credit cards without PINS to reduce the risk of theft and to keep our costs down when credit card companies charge exorbitant fees for taking cash on a card. (Of course, we could go to any bank and have funds transferred from our bank accounts or any of our credit cards. It worked for us so far during the first almost seven years of world travel.

Tom often sees figures of one type or another in cloud formations.  In this case, he would have seen this as an angel.

But, recently, based on the unplanned scenario of me having open-heart surgery, we had to cancel our plans to return to the US in April, during which time we’d have collected the new debit cards, which expired on the last day of March.

We had plenty of SA rands (ZAR) on hand to get us through our remaining time here but not any euros to see us through any time in Ireland. Getting these debit cards sorted out was a mess when Wells Fargo canceled them when we hadn’t activated them in a timely fashion. 

Big Daddy and zebras were sharing pellets in harmony.

When we noticed the newest cards had arrived at the mailbox a few weeks ago, we instructed Wells Fargo to give us over a month to receive and activate the new cards.  

If we don’t have the package during our first week in Ireland, we’ll call Wells Fargo again to extend the time we’ll have to activate the cards. (We didn’t want activated debit cards to go through customs in the US or Ireland to avoid further complications if stolen).

Dad (far left), mom, and ostrich chicks.

Twice, we reordered new debit cards to be delivered here in Marloth Park, and in both cases, they were lost in the mail, in this case, Fed Ex International. After this, we swore we’d never ship any kind to or from South Africa.

Today, I’ve gone through every item in our physical mailbox in Nevada, deciding which items we want to be included in the shipment. For example, Tom ordered a new RFID wallet when the almost seven-year-old similar item has fallen apart. I no longer use a wallet keeping credit cards in my name in Tom’s wallet.

Mr. Nyala, sniffing Ms. Kudu.  Wouldn’t he love an opportunity to mate?

After all, we’re always together, and without me having a wallet or similar such items, there’s less to be lost in the event of a theft. For this very reason, I don’t own or use a handbag and haven’t done so since we landed in Kenya in September 2013.

Also, in this shipment is two pairs of jeans for me, a few sweaters, and long sleeve tee shirts for use while in cool Ireland and also in Minnesota, US when we finally return in six months in November 2019 when it will be freezing.

This lonely nyala, the only of this species in all of Marloth Park, would surely like to have a family of his own.

I haven’t received from MaillinkPlus the cost of shipping this package to Ireland since we’ll need it quickly due to the time difference. As typical, I’m expecting it to be approximately ZAR 5771, US $400, and even sent by the fastest means, most likely won’t arrive any sooner than 10 days from today.

We were living our lives as world travelers. We are continually faced with challenges that we consider minor, compared to the recent necessity of major heart surgery, including surgeries for complications.

No one said life would be easy, but stuff happens regardless of where you live or your chosen lifestyle. It’s how we handle it that determines our ability and enthusiasm in carrying on. For us, we’re excited to carry on…

Photo from one year ago today, May 2, 2018:

A morning’s photo of Scar Face clearly illustrated his improvement. We were excited to see his continuing recovery from this horrific injury. I wish we could see him one more time before we leave in nine days.  For more photos, please click here.

Beginning to wind down…The saga continues…More favorite photos…

The Crocodile Bridge, one of many entrance points that leads to Kruger National Park.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A tree bark gecko in our garden.

Optimistically, we’d made plans to go out to dinner with Uschi and Evan tonight, thinking that surely by now, I’d be able to climb the one flight of steps at Jabula Lodge & Restaurant and be able to sit at a table for a few hours.

As it turned out, last night, I realized this wouldn’t be possible as the pain continued. Twice, since Saturday, I’ve canceled reservations to go out to dinner when it became impossible in my current state.  
A massive bull elephant in Kruger.

Instead, today at 1630 hours (4:30 pm), Uschi and Evan will stop by for a visit. I wish I could whip up some appetizers for their holiday, but doing so would require standing on my feet, and I’m not ready to do so.  

Also, we’d gone shopping for a few essential items before we knew they were coming, and since we’re using up our current food supply, we don’t have anything tasty on hand to offer guests without getting involved in a big cooking ordeal.

A large rhino in Kruger.

Disappointed once again, we let them know that going out to dinner wasn’t possible at this point. However, we wanted to see them once more as we wind down our remaining 10 days in Marloth Park.

I’ve yet to start packing and will probably wait to do so until next week. After living in this house for almost 15 months, the drawers and cupboards are filled with items we need to consider for packing or donating.  

Vultures are on the lookout for their next meal.

The kitchen cabinets are packed with spices, condiments, and various household products, none of which we’ll be able to fit into our luggage. The bedroom’s dressers, wardrobe, and surfaces are all filled and covered with our “stuff.”  

Then, of course, is the bathroom which contains a myriad of toiletries, soaps, and shampoos. During each stay in a holiday home, I attempt to avoid duplicating items we already have on hand.

A parade of elephants crossing a dirt road in Kruger.

But, you know how that goes. While at the market or pharmacy, it’s easy to forget what we have on hand back at the house, and suddenly we have three bottles of conditioner when we only need one.

In the past few days, I’ve managed to enter all of the receipts to our Excel spreadsheet and file and submit both health insurance claims to our difficult-to-deal-with health insurance company who’s still hedging on paying the outstanding balance owed for the bypass surgery of over two months ago.

Cautiously, making their way across the road.

We are responsible for this balance should they fail to pay, which is almost ZAR 300000, US $20,964.  If we spend it now, we’ll play hell in trying to collect this from them. In the same manner, they will be unlikely to reimburse us for the two claims over ZAR 200000, US $13,976.  

At this point is conceivable we could end up having paid ZAR 500000, US $35,000 for my surgery, which should have been covered less ZAR 86181, US $6,000 for three deductibles, one for each of three hospital admissions which includes the angiogram, bypass surgery, and two leg surgeries. Sorting this could drag on for some time.

Intimidation mouthful of razor-sharp teeth.
Ah, enough about that! We’ve done all we can. Now it’s a waiting game while the insurance company decides if I had a pre-existing heart condition, I didn’t disclose which I did not.

This morning we returned to Doc Theo for more debridement of the remaining open wound on my left leg. We aren’t done yet.  As it turns out, Doc Theo will be off for a 10 day holiday (much deserved…he works seven days a week) and has turned over my follow-up and further debridement to Doc Phillip.  

Crocs don’t have sweat glands and open their mouths at rest to cool off.
They consulted today while examining the wound, and both of us feel confident Doc Phillip will do a good job. Doc Theo insisted I Whatsapp photos of the leg each time the dressings are removed and, much to our surprise, once we arrive in Ireland.
He’s suggested I continue to have care by a wound clinic in Ireland but has said we can see how it goes over the several subsequent appointments with Do Phillip over the next nine days. It’s improved substantially over the past nine or 10 days but still has a way to go.
Mom and baby wildebeest in Kruger.
I’m not thrilled about having to drive the over hour-long drive from Connemara to Galway every other day, but I’m hoping for a miracle between now and our last visit to Doc Phillip on May 10th, the day before we fly away.
We said goodbye to Doc Theo, albeit with considerable emotion on both sides.  This is the man who saved my life. We hugged and kissed goodbye no less than three times as he and Tom warmly hugged and shook hands.  
He insisted we stay in touch even after I was well, giving us his number and email. We became pretty good friends with this fine man and an outstanding physician. Tom mentioned to him today that our finest instance of “safari luck” was him finding the problems with my heart which other doctors may easily have missed.
With fingers crossed for another snippet of “safari luck” and the healing of my leg in the next 10 days enabling us to begin treating it on our own rather than spending two days a week dealing with this ongoing issue. We’ll see how it goes.
In the interim, regardless of the pain, I need to walk, although it’s somewhat of an oxymoron…when I walk, the wound worsens; if I don’t walk, the wound worsens from lack of blood flow. I guess I’ll walk after all, which ultimately aids in my overall recovery and strength building.
That’s it for today, dear friends.  We’re expecting a lot from the next 10 days, and we hope to get what we need. If not? Well, as always, we’ll carry on.
Be well.           

                          Photo from one year ago today, May 1, 2018:
We encountered this flock of ostriches on a recent drive in Marloth Park. For more photos, please click here.