As usual, an exquisite morning in the bush…

He ate pellets, left, walked around the house and returned to the garden, thinking we might assume he’s someone new and offer more pellets. The warthogs and bushbucks are good at this maneuver.

Note: Due to the number of tourists in Marloth Park over the weekend, the WiFi is slow and we’re unable to load many photos.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 2 wildebeest
  • 2 warthogs
  • 38 helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 4 bushbuck
  • 9 kudus
  • 2 duiker
  • 4 hornbills
  • 1 impala

Finally, after many nights of long visits from two wildebeest, we selected names for this persistent pair, William and Willard. On Friday, they spent most of the night sleeping in our garden, resulting in 1073 photos taken by our trail cam. Tom spent some time going through them.

Big Daddy comes to call, checking out the females in the garden.

The camera takes three pictures as it is triggered by the movement. If we were to only display one photo per activity, we would miss too much. But each time William and Willard moved an ear or adjusted their position, the camera took three pictures. Although we enjoyed their presence, the eight batteries in the camera, only a week old, drained that evening. Fortunately, we had more batteries left in the package we’d purchased last week.

From now on, we will have to buy batteries whenever we go shopping. Thank goodness, they are relatively inexpensive here, as opposed to the high cost in the US and other countries. We looked at rechargeable batteries, but the cost of rechargeable batteries and recharging was very expensive. In addition, we could never carry it with us with the South African plug that might not work with our adapter and/or in other countries.

Last night was another great night at the Jabula Lodge and Restaurant. It was fun to see Dawn and Leon again after our previous fun night at our place for dinner on Thursday night. We also sat next to Patty Pan and her husband Sydney and loved their company. It was great to see the restaurant filled after so many of them were absent due to COVID-19.

It’s a long way down to pick up pellets, but he easily makes the effort.

Dawn made something special for me last night, a roasted lamb shank. It was divine. I have one more thing to order from Jabula every week. I could not believe how moist and tender it was in a red wine, with juice, as opposed to a sauce filled with flour which is usually served. Thanks, Dawn!

While in Jabula, a man sitting next to us described a local man who died of COVID-19 a few days ago. This is of concern to all of us and we must remain vigilant. Apparently, according to media reports, the rollout of the vaccine for people aged 60 and over will begin in the coming weeks. Given the lack of funds and organizational acuity, this may not happen soon. We just need to wait and see.

Right now, our dear friends Rita and Gerhard are in the midst of their 40 hour travel day to arrive here in Marloth Park tomorrow afternoon. We made a reservation for dinner at Jabula for the four of us, for Sunday evening, hoping they will arrive on time. If not, Tom and I will go on our own since we won’t have anything planned for dinner.

What a handsome profile.

They both were vaccinated several weeks ago and will have had Covid PCR tests in order to fly.  As a result, we aren’t worried about them being around us when they arrive without a quarantine period which is not required in South Africa at this point. When we arrived here in January, we chose a self imposed quarantine for two weeks before we started seeing our friends.

Apparently, that won’t be necessary for those who’ve completed the vaccine at least two weeks ago. I can’t wait until we can get our jabs and put our minds at ease.

As for today, we’ll continue to sit outdoors on the veranda, watching nature at its finest. Tonight, we’ll cook bacon wrapped pork tenderloin on the braai and Tom will finish up the potatoes and corn on the cob from Thursday night. The weather is lovely, warmish, but not hot, sunny with a slight breeze. Perfect.

Have a fantastic weekend!

Photo from one year ago today, May 15, 2020:

Finally, after waiting patiently we got a good shot of this pair of cows in Ireland, most likely a mom and baby. For more photos, please click here.

A fine evening in the bush with friends..Fun new video!…Check it out!…

Take a look at the new video we filmed yesterday morning.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 2 wildebeest
  • 6 warthogs
  • 11 helmeted guinea fowl
  • 5 bushbuck
  • 22 mongoose
  • 2 kudus
  • 1 duiker

It’s a glorious morning. The sun is shining. The temperature and humidity are mild with a slight breeze. The animals have come and gone over the past few hours and we couldn’t be more content. Right now they’re all gone, but that’s going to change in a couple of minutes.

Two Go-Away birds drinking from the birdbath. Unlike many of the brighter forest dwelling turacos these are birds of an African open country and have drab gray and white plumage. In southern Africa, these birds are known as kwêvoëls, but they are also referred to as loeries with other turacos. The go-away-birds are named for their raucous “go away” call.

Last night’s dinner with Dawn and Leon was a great time. The food was good, the company superb and the three wildebeest in the garden all evening just added to the entertainment. I’d made an easy steak dinner with sides and spent little time in the kitchen while our guests were here, having prepared everything earlier in the day.

It’s a busy weekend in the bush with many holiday homes booked with guests from other parts of South Africa, few from overseas, due to pandemic travel restrictions in many countries. A band of 22 mongoose just stopped by and we offered them some leftover meat which they devoured.

Three wildebeest lying in the driveway, shortly before Dawn and Leon arrived.

We noticed that three of the mongoose had full pieces of white bread in their mouths which they weren’t eating, but carrying around in somewhat of a frenzy, wondering what to do with it. Apparently, some novice holiday renters have fed mongoose bread, which is not appropriate for their diet. In one instance, I watched a guinea fowl steal the mongoose’s bread and escape.

Sure, animals love “human food”, but in most cases, it’s not safe for them to eat. It’s always disheartening to watch that. Feeding wildlife, especially now that vegetation is diminishing by the hour, is good if it is appropriate for their way of eating. The best feed to supply the animals is game pellets. Fruits and vegetables humans eat may contain pesticides and other chemicals that are dangerous to animals (and humans too).

Wildebeest Willie is drooling over the veranda table begging for pellets.

On occasion, we offer them carrots and apples, which we wash first and cut into bite-size pieces. Imagine a bushbuck or a tiny duiker choking on a big piece of a carrot or apple. It would be horrifying to witness it, but it could easily happen.

Many don’t believe in feeding wildlife. Based on the fact that they are fenced in, living in this conservation without being able to wander towards greener pastures, we feel compelled to feed them. This is a hot issue here in Marloth Park with many different opinions and perspectives.

A hornbill eating out of Frank and The Misses container of seeds.

To cull or not to cull is also a frequent point of contention. We avoid controversy and do what our conscience dictates, which is to feed wildlife, food appropriate to their species. We don’t hand feed nor do we use troughs which are breeding grounds for TB and other wildlife diseases and illnesses which are always prevalent in the bush.

Last night we had good news that Rita and Gerhard will be arriving at Marloth Park on Sunday afternoon and we will all be heading to Jabula Lodge and Restaurant for dinner. Gerhard has been chomping at the bit over the prospect of ordering their spare ribs, which Tom eats each time we go for dinner. As usual, we always go to Jabula on Friday nights, which we’ll be doing again tonight and then again, on Sunday night.

A wildebeest resting in the garden, a common phenomenon of late.

We’re so thrilled to see Rita and Gerhard. We hope they will stay for a few months and of course we hope to be able to stay or return after June 30th when our current visas expire. Only time will tell.

A Go-Away bird sitting at the edge of the pool.

That’s it for the day, dear readers. Be safe. Be happy. Cherish every day of life!

Photo from one year ago today, May 14, 2020:

A small lagoon between Anini Beach and Ke’e Beach while we were in Kauai, Hawaii on this date in 2015. Please see that link here. For the year-ago post, please click here.

Part 3…Kruger National Park…It never disappoints…Adding a new feature for Africa…Tom’s trip is over…Dinner guests tonight…

On the way back from Kruger, we encountered this  intentional fire in the sugar cane fields.

Effective this morning, we are adding a new feature to our posts while we are in Marloth Park. The feature will be entitled: “Who is in the garden this morning?” which will consist of all wildlife visitors to our garden during the time we are preparing the day’s post. Here it comes!

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 9 warthogs
  • 13 kudus
  • 3 bushbucks
  • 1 duiker
  • 7 helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 39 mongoose
  • Frank & The Misses (francolins)

Thus, while we continue to prepare the post we will add to the list, keeping in mind that typically it takes about five hours from start to finish, considering managing photos, writing the text, editing the text with occasional short breaks to do a household task, prep for a meal or other breaks necessary during this period.

We will not count regular visitors if we are in a position to recognize who is here, which we can do in most cases. For instance, just now, warthogs, Mom & Babies (2) appeared, but they weren’t counted earlier. We hope that our readers will find these figures amusing. Otherwise, it’s fun for us, at any rate!

We had to make it through the thick smoke of the fires.

This afternoon at 4:00 pm, 1600 hours, we’re having guests for sundowners and dinner, Dawn and Leon, owners of Jabula Lodge and Restaurant. We always have such a good time with them at the restaurant, but it will be nice to have time with the two of them without all the distractions in the restaurant.

A wildebeest (gnu) on the side of the road near Vurhami Dam in Kruger.

This morning we prepped some of the items on the menu which when done here, I will wrap up the balance. Zef is here cleaning the house which makes entertaining, so much easier when we don’t have to clean in preparation for company.

Rapids under the bridge at the Sabie River.

All we have to do is prepare the food and clean up after ourselves. In our old lives, when we entertained more frequently, it’s easy to recall how much time was spent cleaning before the guests arrived and later when they left. It’s a lot easier now. Plus, I am not as picky about preparing fancy foods for our guests.

Giraffe walking down the middle of the paved road.

Louise always suggests that we leave our evening dishes for Vusi and Zef to wash the next morning as they are accustomed to doing for the guests at other houses. But, we don’t feel right leaving a sink full of dirty dishes when we can easily put them into the dishwasher. In addition, leaving dirty dishes can draw ants and other creeping crawlers overnight, which we do not want to do.

The giraffe walked toward us, as we waited patiently.

Simple appetizers (referred to as starters here) and simple meals are typical in South Africa, usually consisting of meats cooked on the braai with a few starchy sides, which I am making tonight for our guests. I will limit myself to biltong (delicious South African beef jerky), cheese and steaks, and will not be tempted by starchy items.

Another giraffe we spotted in the park.

I am easily maintaining my now medication-free former hypertension and high blood sugar, all of which are normal, day after day. That’s a small sacrifice from my perspective. I’m not missing any of it. Well, maybe a few things, but I never indulge myself in those items which could result in a “slippery slope.”

It’s funny, but I crave “low carb” items, not sweets and starches from my old life before 2011 when I went low carb. Now, I’ve also been zero carb since last October while in lockdown in the hotel in Mumbai, India when I conducted hundreds of hours of research on this more strict version of low carb, never looking back.

More rapids on the Sabie River.

That’s it for today, dear readers. I have to get back to work on tonight’s food prep and when done, work on the post corrections. My goal is to never miss a day making the corrections, unless it’s a travel day. So far, so good.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 13, 2020:

Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas.Will we ever be able to cruise again. For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…Kruger National Park…It never disappoints…Odd day for us today…

We spotted this Leopard Tortoise crossing the road in Kruger National Park. The leopard tortoise is a member of the “Small 5” (along with the rhino beetle, the red-billed buffalo weaver, elephant shrew and the ant lion).

Soon, Tom will be heading to the airport in Nelspruit to return the rental car for a required monthly inspection. With prices so high for rental cars lately, we went with Thrifty which uses cars with higher mileage and may be a few years old. By no means, are they “beaters,”  However, we have been disappointed with the car we have now. It doesn’t do well on the rough, dirt and gravel roads.

It was fun to see a Spoon-billed Stork on the shore of Sunset Dam in Lower Sabie. See the more detailed photo below.

Thrifty’s contract requires that we return the car every 30 days for an inspection, which is a huge inconvenience when it’s a four hour turnaround to make the trip. It’s a route I don’t like, due to single lane roads and lots of weaving in and out of traffic. It’s somewhat of a “nail biter” for me as a passenger.

Today, Tom has decided there is no reason for me to ride with him. He’s leaving soon to make the trip on his own. I suppose in the realm of things, it’s no big deal and I should go with him. He insists he’ll be fine driving on his own and thus I am staying behind.

What an interesting bird!

The four hours will be the longest we’ve been apart since we were in the US at the end of 2019 before leaving in January, 2020 for India. Gosh, that seems so long ago.

The common starling.

We continue to research online daily attempting to find reasonable prices on rental cars after June 30th, providing we’ll be able to return to South Africa. Right now, the cost of rental cars is more than our rent for a 30-day period. That makes no sense whatsoever. With travel at a minimum due to Covid, you’d think travel services such as rental cars would be reasonable to encourage travel after this long stretch.

Raising prices to compensate for losses only discourages travelers embarking on holidays/vacations when most prospective travelers have suffered financially during the pandemic. But, we’ve seen happening with airlines, hotels, cruises and auto rentals throughout the world. It makes no sense whatsoever.

A small crocodile skimming the surface in the Sunset Dam..

Of course, I will be on pins and needles until Tom returns safely. While in the house alone, I’ll finish today’s post and get back to work on corrections on old posts which I have been diligent about doing each day since I mentioned it here weeks ago. I am a week away from being 50% done with all of the over 3100 posts. It’s a slow and painstaking process which I am determined to complete, one way or another.

Once I reach the 50% mark it will still be almost six months until I’m done, at the rate I am going so far, 10 posts a day. Originally, I’d planned to do 20 posts a day, but that took several hours, more than I could do to stay motivated. As it is, I still spend two hours a day on the 10 posts.

Two hippos napping in the tall grass on the shore of the Sabie River.

As also mentioned earlier, I’ve found I can make the corrections while watching a series on the opposite side of the screen, using a split screen. This helps the time go more quickly. Right now, I am into a few science fiction shows which Tom doesn’t care to watch. It’s not that I’m wishing time to pass quickly, although some unpleasant tasks are best accomplished by some form of distraction for those of us who like to multi-task.

Hopefully, Tom will return by 2:30 (1430 hours) or 3:00 pm (1500 hours) and we can go about our day together as usual. Tonight is his final night of homemade low carb pizza, which I’ll put together while he’s gone. I had chopped all the toppings and also made the low-carb crusts in advance, making the balance easy to do.

This happened too quickly for a good photo. It was a crocodile spinning in the river with its prey in its mouth.

Today’s photos, although not necessarily the most exciting photos we’ve ever taken in Kruger National Park, are those scenes of wildlife we found to be worth sharing. Some of you may not agree. Each time we enter the park, we do our best to come away with sufficient photos for a few days, as we’ve done here.

We hope you have a pleasant day and we’ll be back tomorrow with more. We’ve taken many more fun photos in the garden in the past few days and look forward to sharing those next.

Photo from one year ago today, May 12, 2020:

This is a Blue Kingfisher we spotted on this date in 2016 in Sumbersari, Bali. Click here for that post. For more photos from the year-ago post, please click here.

Part 1…Kruger National Park photos…It never disappoints…

A mom or matriarch crossing the road with a youngster.

Visiting Kruger National Park is a mixed bag. For long stretches, there may not be an animal in sight and with the maximum speed of 40 km, 25 miles per hours, the drive may be slow and tedious with dense vegetation along some of the roads. Often, vegetation impedes the view of what may have been exciting sightings in more open spaces.

When more than two visitors are engaged in a self-drive, unless they’re riding an open vehicle or large SUV with huge back windows, the back seat passenger’s views may be disappointing at best. Strict rules and regulations prevent passengers hanging out of windows or standing up in sunroofs. The dangers are many.

This was one of the first elephants we spotted on Sunday.

In a moment’s time, any of the wild cats could leap atop a vehicle resulting in a serious or fatal injury. Their reaction time is far superior to ours. Also, it is forbidden to get outside of any vehicle on a self-drive. Although, on a few occasions, on guided safari/game drives, there may be instances whereby meals or snacks are served in the bush, or a guided walking safari is conducted by an experienced guide is leading the walk, carrying a weapon,.

As for what we consider the best way to see game in any wildlife-rich national park is riding in a raised, open sided safari vehicle as high up as possible, enhancing the possibility of distant sightings. To think that wildlife necessarily stays close to a road is unlikely and unrealistic.

Such magnificent beasts.

That’s why we particularly enjoyed the Maasai Mara in Kenya and Chobe National Park in Botswana, both of which resulted in off-road dashes to reach distant wildlife. Ultimately, it was all the more exciting. But, in Kruger, staying on the few paved roads and the numerous side dirt and gravel roads, is amazing when visitors are able to see almost every form of wildlife that inhabit the park.

Lowering one’s expectations about the “Big Five” as a prerequisite for a fulfilling day in the park is vital for us to embrace what the park is all about. It’s not a zoo and hopefully never will be. Kruger is described as follows here:

“Why visit the Kruger National Park? The world-renowned Kruger National Park is South Africa’s largest wildlife sanctuary with nearly 2 million ha (4.9 million acres) of unrivaled wilderness and wildlife land, and home, not only the Big Five, but more species of large mammals than any other African game reserve.”

An elephant preparing to cross the road is wary of vehicles.

Of the top 10 safari parks in the world, at this juncture, we’ve visited five of the 10. Here is the link with detailed information. As we peruse this link our interest is piqued to visit more of these at some point in the future. But, at this point, time is not our friend.

With the pandemic in mind, and the ability to travel unknown in the future coupled with the realities of aging, it’s impossible for us to predict what the future holds. At this point, we don’t have an idea where we’ll be in 50 days from today when the visa extension granted to foreign nationals, by South Africa President Cyril Ramphosa, ends on June 30th.

It’s wonderful to watch the elephants feed. A typical African elephant consumes 300 pounds, 136 kg per day.

Before Covid- 19, we often had the next two years booked in advance. Recently, a reader inquired about our upcoming itinerary. Other than the four upcoming cruises we have booked, the first of which is scheduled for November, 2021, none of them may ever set sail. Subsequently, we don’t have an upcoming itinerary. We promise, when and if we do, we’ll certainly post it here.

Enjoy the new Kruger National Park photos we’ll be sharing today and over the next few days. No, they aren’t necessarily unique from what we’ve shared in the past and yet, we’re still thrilled with what we’d seen only two days ago.

A mom and a baby grazing.

Today is a cool and sunny day, typical for fall in the bush. At the moment, there are four warthogs hovering in the garden, including Little who is napping close to the veranda. No less than a dozen helmeted guinea fowl are pecking at the seeds we tossed on the ground.

Another elephant crossing the road. We always wait patiently while often some cars may quickly zoom passed.

Go-Away birds are making their hysterical sounds while four hornbills are pecking at the bedroom windows, the dining room window and the windows on the car. A few minutes ago, we fed about 50 mongoose some leftover meat. They are staying around, making their adorable chirping noises.

Although difficult to determine in this photo, this elephant was huge, old and very wrinkled.

One of our favorite bushbuck, Thick Neck, is hovering in the dense brush, waiting for the pigs to leave since they don’t allow the small antelope to get a single pellet. Three wildebeest are drinking from the birdbath and the pool and of course, we’re as content as we could be.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, May 11, 2020:

“Pig in the parlor.” Two year ago today, we left South Africa and posted more of our favorite photos. This was the second time Little came up the steps and into the house, while we were sitting on the sofa and didn’t see him right away. We howled. We always love seeing this photo! Now, is so fun to have him visiting us here. He’s still quite bossy, but we’re managing fine with him. Does he remember us? It appears so when he tries to get very close to me. But, we keep him at a safe distance. For more, please click here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finally, they wandered back into the bush.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then he made eye contact and I melted.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Python under hood #1

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

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

Python under hood #2

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

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

Python under hood #3.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Young male bushbuck with sprouting little horns.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wildebeest Willie, lounging in the garden.

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

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

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

More zebras in the garden.

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

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

Be well. Be safe. Remain diligent.

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

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

Fantastic evening with friends…

From left to right; Tom, Ken, Linda, Mannie, Louise (another Louise), Andrew and Lesley, a wonderful group of friends.

It was a great afternoon and evening with friends looking out over the Crocodile River near Two Trees. Just before dark, we all headed to Kathy and Don’s house where Linda and Ken are staying for a short period. As is typical in South Africa, everyone brought their own beverages, mixes, ice and meats for the braai.

Lesley and Andrew invited us to the gathering at the river.

Linda made several side dishes including baked potatoes, sweet corn and roasted mixed vegetables. Tom was thrilled to be eating sweet corn and a baked potato and Linda gave him the leftovers to enjoy with tonight’s dinner. As usual, I was content with a good sized portion of rare filet mignon that Tom cooked perfectly for me on the braai. He also had a filet, but added a baked potato and sweet corn.

Tonight, we’ll cook the leftover uncooked tenderloin for me and pork chops for Tom on the braai, here at our bush home. Tomorrow night, we’re returning once again to Jabula for our usual Friday night dinner and even more socializing..

Egyptian geese on the bank of the river.

Last night, it was wonderful being together with everyone, the eight of us, but it was odd socializing at Kathy and Don’s house without them with us. In June, Don will arrive. In July, Kathy will as well, and we’ll all be together once again. We can’t wait until they arrive. There are still several couples, yet to return to Marloth park due to Covid-19 and travel restrictions. Eventually, hopefully, they’ll all return.

In the meanwhile, this month, we’re chomping at the bit for Rita and Gerhard to arrive from the state of Washington, USA. They are awaiting the finalization of their retirement visas, something we may consider applying for down the road. Unfortunately, doing so, requires a several month stay in the US when South Africa doesn’t allow applicants to apply while they are in South Africa. Go figure.

A tiny bird alighted on this plant at the river’s edge.

With no health insurance in the US, long stays don’t make sense for us, especially during times of the pandemic. A single unexpected health event could break us, with the high costs of medical care in the US. Also, it doesn’t make sense for us to sign up for US healthcare, when months later we’ll be traveling again, with our outside-the-US healthcare policy through United Health Care’s Safe Trip policy.

There’s always so much to consider while living this lifestyle and yet we carry on with hope in our hearts that we will be able to travel going forward. No, we don’t plan to live in Marloth Park permanently. But, it’s a safe place for us to stay right now with few  known local active cases of the virus, and with minimal exposure when we go shopping or to Kruger Nationa Park, based on following our diligent safety procedures.

The Crocodile River has gone down quite a bit since the big rains months ago.

We’d intended to go into Kruger this week, but the time got away from us. We’ve spent considerable time researching our options for June 30th, when the “free” 90 visa extension ends. There is a possibility that President Ramaphosa will extend it for another 90 days for us foreign nationals, but we won’t know until the last minute.

Tomorrow morning, dear friend Linda and I are going to a local nail technician that Louise had recommended, for 60-minute pedicures. Based on the fact she can only work on one of us at a time, we’ll take turns. Surely, we’ll enjoy the “girl talk” and time together on our own, something we rarely do.

I wish I hadn’t been too lazy to get up and shoot this photo of a waterbuck, between the wires of the fence. Next time, I’ll do better.

Today, we’re staying in, hoping to go to Kruger over the weekend, since the holidaymakers are now gone. Most likely, it won’t be busy and we’ll have a good experience. We are as content as we could be, even amid the reality that in 55 days we may have to hightail out of here, location unknown.

Hope you are weathering well during these trying times.

Photo from one year ago today, May 6, 2020:

Birdie’s hair standing up on the day I gave Tom a haircut in Kauai. For more photos, please click here.