Raining in buckets…Power outage…Thank goodness for the inverter…

Peeking up over the step, looking at us, “Got any meat for us?” Sure, we did! Thank goodness, Louise and Danie made certain we had an inverter in this house, Love Bird’s Nest. How thoughtful they are! An inverter uses power to recharge batteries inside the unit, which can be kept indoors, to be used later when the power goes out for small voltage requirements, such as powering a router and recharging digital equipment.

It could be used for some lights but can’t power the air-con, the refrigerator, and power-hogging appliances such as tea kettles, toasters, and microwaves. We keep the usage only for our phones, laptops, and the router to ensure we have WiFi, which, right now, we do. It’s been a massive benefit during all of the power outages.

Cute little mongoose resting his chin on a rock.

At some point, if the power doesn’t come back on, the batteries in the inverter will lose their power. We’ll see how that goes. Hopefully, sometime today, the cause of the outage will be repaired.

With the rains resulting from Cyclone Eloise, the ground is still soaked, and flooding is happening all around us. Even the Crocodile Bridge Gate and others, as access to Kruger National Park, are flooded, preventing visitors from many areas entering the park. I can only imagine the frustration of tourists who planned a one or two-week holiday in this area who can now not visit Kruger National Park unless they drive long distances to other open gates.

Mongooses are affectionate and nurturing to one another.

Also, we’ve found that wildlife tends to go for cover during rainstorms as powerful as this when they become frightened by the sounds. Thus, those tourists currently staying in Marloth Park won’t be seeing much wildlife in their gardens when, for example, so far this morning, we’ve only seen Franks, hornbills, and helmeted guinea-fowl. We tossed seeds for all of them when they looked at us with those longing eyes. Of course, we comply, even on sunny days.

Flooding will escalate over the next several days as the rains continue through Monday, Tuesday, and longer. In viewing the weather reports, it appears it will rain almost every day over the next two weeks, all the way through February 14.

I gave them a little container with the remainder of my chicken livers. As carnivores, they sure loved that.

We’re certainly happy that we’re staying here for quite a long while. Otherwise, this amount of rain would be frustrating. However, it’s vital for the growth of the vegetation critical to the wildlife in the bush, which is their primary source of food, except for carnivores such as mongoose, lizards, snakes, and others.

This morning Louise and Danie stopped by with a cooler, called a “chill box,” here in South Africa. Our social life is beginning to take shape with upcoming visits to friends in the bush. We’ll bring our beverages, in this case, Crystal Light Iced Tea, since alcohol is still banned in South Africa.

A tiny baby mongoose with mom or dad on the pool steps.

Hopefully, the ban will be lifted by mid-February, and I can purchase my favorite South Africa wine, Four Cousins, Skinny  Red. It’s a delicious low-alcohol wine, 9% instead of 13%, which had been my go-to wine when we were here in 2018-2019. At times, my mouth waters when I think of this delightful wine.

It’s ironic. We couldn’t drink alcohol in India during those 10-months in isolation due to many months-long bans and then outrageous prices with taxes at 38%. It just wasn’t worth it to us at the time, especially when neither of us had ever enjoyed drinks in a hotel room or even a cruise cabin. It’s all about socialization for us.

Of course, if it’s just the two of us on the veranda at “happy hour,” we find each other’s companionship a delightful form of socialization and may imbibe when the time is right. We look forward to that down the road.

A moment ago, the power came back on! We’re thrilled!. We’ll be back with more tomorrow! As soon as I upload today’s post, we’re heading out for a drive to check out the area’s flooding and take some photos.

Stay well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 31, 2020:

The view from our hotel room in Mumbai,  overlooking the Arabian Sea, shortly after we arrived in India from the US on a 33-hour journey. For more details, please click here.

A repost from five years ago that still reflects our views…

Our new friend, “One-Wart,” is missing a full-sized wart on the right side of his face. Most likely, he was “born this way.,” possibly due to inbreeding. We have no doubt he’ll be a regular.

While I’ve continued to edit past posts due to errors I’ve made over the years, along with other errors as a result of WiFi issues at the time, I stumbled across a post from November 13, 2015, that over five years later, still resonates who we are and what we believe. I hesitated to repost the text, of course, using some new photos from Marloth Park.

Why the hesitation? To avoid redundancy. After all, during the past ten months in lockdown in India, there certainly was plenty of redundancy with dull stories and repeated photos from years past when no new photos were being taken. Thus, if you recall this post, feel free to pass by the text and enjoy the new photos taken in the past 24 hours.

Impalas rarely come to the garden since they are timid around humans. This fellow stops by almost daily.

If, years ago, someone would have told me I had to write a new story 365 days a year for over eight years, relevant to the current times, I’d have laughed and said it was impossible. I’d never be motivated to perform such a task. And yet, here we are, plugging away with the same enthusiasm in preparing our first post published on March 15, 2012. See that post here. It didn’t include a single photo, but over the years, that first post has been one of our favorites, so well describing who we are and what we hoped to achieve in our worldwide travels.

But, this post, which I stumbled upon yesterday afternoon while working on the prior post’s edits, also caught my eye, and I decided to share it again with you today. Our long-time readers may recall this post, or they may not. Our newer readers may never have come across it as they occasionally reviewed the archives, if at all.

This is Dad & Son, who stop by daily to see what’s on the menu.

In essence, this old post is no big deal, but it reflects who we were then and who we are now, which only you, as readers, may decide if we have changed our views over the years. To see the photos from that date, please click here. Please sit back, relax and read this revealing personal exposé we took seriously at the time and do so again now.  Here we go:

“A grain of sand on the beach of life…Who are we?…

Nothing in life is static. No state of being is guaranteed. All we know for certain is tomorrow, a new day will dawn, and tonight a sun will set. Even that eventuality is in question by scientific predictions in the millennium to come or sooner.

When we hear of new planets emerging within our range of perspective at the edges of our universe, our Earth becomes minor and insignificant in the vast expanse of “forever,” a place none of us in this lifetime will ever know.

How do we grasp a news report such as this:

“A rocky Earth-sized planet that circles a small, nearby star could be the most important world ever found beyond the solar system, astronomers say. The planet lies in the constellation of Vela in the southern sky and is close enough for telescopes to observe any atmosphere. It has a procedure that could help spot life on other planets in the future. Named GJ 1132b, the alien world is about 16% larger than Earth, and at 39 light-years distant, is three times closer than any other Earth-sized rocky planet yet found around another star. At that distance, it is hoped that telescopes will be able to make out the chemistry of its atmosphere, the speed of its winds, and the colors of its sunsets.”

Six warthogs, a kudu, and Frank came by, gathering around the braai.

As we simpletons scour the world, the Earth, enraptured by its endless wonders along the way, we are in awe of Earth’s natural evolution, leaving some of the most exquisite scenery in its wake. Imagine the millions of years that no humans were on this Earth even to know it was there.

With predictions that human life as we know it, from a scientific perspective, has populated the Earth for a mere 200,000 years is a “drop in the bucket” in time, a single grain of sand on a beach.

As the Earth has further populated, each one of us has become a grain of sand on another beach of impossible calculations. How many are there now? How many have there been, and how many are there yet to come?

A male bushbuck and a male impala. This species often graze together without incident.

And, within our limited field of vision, we deem ourselves significant and meaningful. Collectively, we matter. Individually, we must seek the power of the masses to hope for change and progression.

It’s easy to hide away in our self-imposed universe, in our geographic sphere, reaching out only to that which is readily available within our grasp. Is it human nature that we tend to cocoon in a limited space and time?

Oh, as I ponder these thoughts, as I write a meaningless timeline of a day in the village as in yesterday’s post, I’m reminded of how tiny our world becomes coupled with our ambitious desire to see as much as the world as we can as the clock ticks loudly and annoyingly. How much time do we have to complete this journey?  And what, within this realm, are we really doing?

After finishing the raw scramble eggs Tom placed in this pan, these two were determined to lap up every last drop.

I don’t know the answer to either of these questions, which in itself is a further reminder of how little power we each have in this world. The mystery.  Is it wrought from a sense of spirituality or simply hard facts? It remains to be seen in this lifetime.

As we continue to explore the significance of every creature on Earth and its interrelated purpose, it’s easy to assume we humans are at the head of the food chain, and yet, life emerged long before we were here.

The cycle of life and the food chain is magical. Every creature’s design is magic, and none of this could happen from an explosion of planets, remnants evolving into worlds, remnants growing into the Earth.

Ms. Tortoise made a brief appearance, moving quickly through the bush.

A power, a spirituality beyond our comprehension, created this magical life on this planet. As we travel, we witness the vast array in which each population has formed their perception of “who” and “what” this may be. They call it religion, faith, and spirituality in a manner they can most easily grasp and incorporate into their beings.

We don’t choose to see ourselves as self-serving individuals lost in a sea of “vacation,” “holiday,” and travel options. We see ourselves, all of us, you and us, as on a long journey of personal discovery in pursuit of the answers to our own relevant questions, whether we travel the world or sit back in an armchair, hoping to find answers, if not in this lifetime but perhaps in the next.”

She cracked open the egg by pounding it on the cement, sucking out the contents. Animals using tools, fascinating!

This morning upon arising, no less than ten helmeted guinea-fowl were on the veranda hoping for seeds. Once they left, francolins, Frank, and The Misses were looking in the glass of the veranda’s sliding door, wondering when we’d be coming out to toss some bird seeds. It took us no time at all.

Life is good. We have WiFi, power, and the high today will only be 92F, 33C, as we wait in anticipation of who may come to call in the next 12 hours, as we embrace our surroundings in the bush.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 30, 2020:

Five years ago in 2016, we spent three months in New Plymouth, New Zealand, living on an alpaca farm. In the early evening, a group of the babies got together to play, running through the paddock, making us laugh over their playful antics. For the year-ago post, please click here.

Visitors are baaack!…Great to see our wildlife friends once again…Settling in…

The pool water has chlorine in it, not ideal for wildlife to drink. We have a clean cement pond in the garden, from which the wildlife often drink.

It started to be a busy morning in the bush. Now that the worst of the storms has passed, we’ve begun to see more and more wildlife, especially in the late afternoon, after 5:00 pm, when it begins to cool down. Now, close to noon, we’ve already had several delightful visitors, which we’ll share in tomorrow’s photos.

Fortunately, right now, it isn’t as hot as it could be, and we’re comfortably situated on the veranda waiting to see who will grace us with their presence during the warmth of the day. However, it’s always a particular time in the early morning and toward the end of the day when more wildlife stops by.

Tiny, our huge warthog friend, and Bossy, a very pushy and persistent kudu, visited together last night.

We’re getting into an enjoyable routine, some mornings sleeping in a little later as needed and other mornings, bolting out of bed to get outdoors as quickly as possible after spotting many species in the garden in the early morning. We never hesitate to acknowledge them.

Finally, we’ve both begun to sleep better, often making it through the night without awakening. My habit has been waking around 2:00 or 3:00 am, staying awake for an hour or more. But, the past few nights, I have been avoiding this annoying occurrence and slept through to 5:30 am. Peering out the bedroom window to see if we had visitors when none were spotted, I was able to go back to sleep for a few more hours, feeling especially rested today. Tom did the same.

Tom placed a few eggs on the grass for the mongooses.

Gosh, it feels good, cooking and eating our chosen meals whenever we’re hungry, exercising on the rented treadmill, and of course, spending the majority of our days and evenings outdoors on the veranda. At this point, we have no desire to go out anywhere, although, on occasion, we jump in the car and drive through the park to the Crocodile River.

Recently, with all the rain, it’s been too muddy to get out of the car to walk closer to the fence between Marloth Park and Kruger National Park. And with the concerns over frightening the stranded waterbucks close to the wall, we’ve chosen to stay away.

Mongoose and Ms. Kudu.

Once things dry out and the waterbuck return to the other side of the river, their usual habitat, we make more trips to the river, getting out of the car to take photos of such stunning wildlife like lions, elephants, cape buffalo, and more. We have all the time in the world, provided we’re able to get our visas stamped by April when our 90-day visa has expired.

For now, we’re not worrying about this. With the pandemic raging on, there are limitations on where we may travel in April. Many countries we’d considered are now refusing entry from South Africa or even US passports due to the Covid-19 and potential variants.

This pair of male warthogs, whom we call Siegfried and Roy, stop by in the early evening.

We’ve chosen not to put a damper on our exquisite time in the bush by worrying about our visas. In the worst case, we can apply for a visa extension or, even worse, fly to the US for a few days and later on return for a new 90-day visa stamp, which isn’t easy, time and travel-wise, but may prove to be our only option.

In the interim, we continue to watch the news about when the vaccine will be available in South Africa, making traveling all the less problematic than it had been during those 59 hours from India. We are so grateful we came out of that long trip unscathed. But, as mentioned, we cannot let our guard down here in Marloth Park.

Eight kudus showed up together, all female, with a few maturing youngsters.

Four deaths from Covid-19 were reported here in the park in the past few weeks. We can easily see how likely this is with many locals and visitors failing to be diligent about proper mask-wearing and social distancing, mainly, the workers and tourists in the local shops.

These two little birds, Blue Waxbills, moved so quickly, it was difficult getting a photo.

Instead, on Monday, we’ve decided we will head to Komatipoort for a much-needed trip to the pharmacy and Spar Market for groceries. As mentioned, Louise has offered to do all of our shopping for us. But, as much as we appreciate her generous offer, we feel it’s time we shop for those items we’d like to select on our own. We can’t stay in hiding forever. After all, we’d done plenty of that in India.

Hopefully, by the time all of our friends arrive in Marloth Park over the next several months, they will all have been vaccinated while we continue to wait for vaccinations to be available to us in South Africa. The friends we have who are already here are like us, proceeding with extreme caution in socializing.

This photo was taken at dusk without flash, two female kudus stopping by for treats.

As much as we look forward to being with others, we truly appreciate and understand the risks are not to be taken lightly. In the interim, we are thoroughly enjoying ourselves every day in the bush.

Be safe. Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 29, 2020:

Three years ago, at lunch, that day, one of the chefs on our Antarctica cruise, on Ponant Le’Boreal, was preparing a beef and vegetable stir-fry outdoors. We all partook of the delicious offering but decided to dine indoors. It was a little too cold to eat outside for our liking. For more photos of Antarctica, please click here. Please click here for the year-ago post, which included our final expenses from 82 days in the USA.

Welcoming a new friend…A human friend that is…

Our new friend and author, Alan Holmes.

Last night, we had a human visitor, Alan Holmes, whom we’d never met in prior visits to Marloth Park. Alan is a prolific writer with popular books about his life, South Africa, Marloth Park, and the bush. His anecdotal stories and “musings” have become popular and revered by readers of his books and hundreds of Facebook followers, which is where we first found Alan.

Louise and Danie suggested he meet us based on our common interests, and they were so right. We easily social-distanced at our big table on the veranda, enjoying animated conversations, beverages, biltong, and cheese. After last evening’s get-together, we knew we’d made a new friend in Marloth Park and look forward to many more social times in the bush.

This is a Gray Lourie standing on the pool filter cover.

Of course, the highlight of the evening was the opportunity to share our stories, each rich in adventure, riddled with life challenges, and ultimately interspersed with a positive approach. This commonality made the conversation flow with ease and interest as we each shared treasured morsels of our experiences over the years.

Sadly, Alan lost his dear wife Ann-Jeanette in August 2019 after contracting malaria while here in Marloth Park. He struggled to survive, but Ann-Jeanette couldn’t overcome the ravages of the disease. With a solid emotional base and time to recover from such a heartbreaking loss, Alan has come out on the other side, full of hope for the future. He continues to write voraciously and share his gentle musings regularly on Facebook and in new books.

Kudus were hovering over a pile of sweet potatoes.

When I wrote to Alan this morning asking to write about him in today’s post, he kindly wrote the following, quoted with his permission.

“Hi, Jessica. Wow! Instant international fame!! I have self-published three books. The first is an autobiography of what I thought was an unusual life until I met you and Tom! The second is titled “Memories of Paradise,” written just before Covid when I thought I would never return to Marloth Park because of the danger of malaria.

Many kudus came to call before the storms. We’ve yet to see one since as the inclement weather continues. Ironically, just as I wrote this, eight female kudus arrived in the garden. We’re thrilled! Photos will follow tomorrow.

“The third book is “Marloth Park – a User’s Guide” which is still available at both supermarkets in Marloth Park and Daisy’s Den. There are more copies of those last two printed and on their way to the park. I will reprint the first book “abNormal” – the Holmes family story once I’ve given it a re-edit and cleanup.

My current book, ready for the printers next week, is titled “Musings and Memories” and is a collection of writings expressing my (somewhat controversial) views on life and people. It will be on sale in time for Valentine’s day (that’s the plan!). All the books are available directly from me in hard copy, or very soon as a pdf for a much lower price than the printed versions. Thank you for the exposure!”

The nest-building hornbills have also been absent during the stormy weather.

To order books or chat with Alan, he can be reached at the following:

  • WhatsApp: +27 11 72 923 8923
  • Email: holmesat@gmail.com
  • Facebook
And, we thank Alan for the opportunity for us to share his story here today. One of the wonders of being in Marloth Park, besides the exquisite joys of the wildlife and scenery, is the ease with which we’ve been able to make friends. We’ve been welcomed with open arms by permanent property owners, occasionally visiting property owners and visitors from all over the world.
We continue to feel blessed and in awe of this magical place and its many human and animal wonders.
Three warthogs managed to come out from hiding during the stormy weather in search of some pellets we freely offered.
Be well. Stay safe. Let’s all look out for one another! Please wear your mask covering both your mouth and your nose in the shops and public places.

Photo from one year ago today, January 28, 2020:

Three years ago today, this elephant seal on Steeple Jason Island in Antarctica didn’t care for our photo-taking antics. For more photos from that date, please click here. For the year-ago post, please click here.

Our 14-day self quarantine is over!!…But, caution remains in Marloth Park…

The heading of our post, one year ago today, reads: “The flurry of activity has begun…two days and counting…Not freaking out about Coronavirus..” Little did we know at that time. It wasn’t until six weeks later that we ended our private tour of India, after which we began the 10-month process of trying to figure out how to get to South Africa.

And now, here we are, 14 days after we finally arrived in Marloth Park, South Africa, on January 13, 2021, and the following has transpired:

  • Power outages, no less than eight times, including a 29-hour outage a few days ago
  • WiFi outages,  no less than five times, including two extended periods
  • Cyclone Eloise, dumping 200 mm, 7,9 inches rain in Marloth Park with high winds at times
  • Flooding in many parts of Kruger National Park
  • A highly venomous Boomslang snake visiting our veranda within inches of us, within days of our arrival
  • Outrageous heat and humidity (which has returned today as Cyclone Eloise passed)

    Frank, The Misses, and The Chicks reside in our garden along with other francolins. They are friendly, noisy, and entertaining birds.

And then, of course, we’ve enjoyed the following perks in the past 14-days during our self-imposed quarantine:

  • We are reveling in close and personal interactions with many wildlife, including giraffes, kudu, warthogs, wildebeest, bushbuck, impala, mongoose, Franks, hornbills, etc. many other birds, and, of course, our snake.
  • A few highly enjoyable masked/social distancing get-togethers with Louise and Danie
  • We have been dining on beef no less than eight times in the past 14 days, cooking our meals. Yeah!
  • We washed clothes in the washing machine in the kitchen and hung them to dry on a rack. After handwashing all of our clothes for ten months, this has been a treat.
  • Spending no less than 12 hours a day in the fresh air on the veranda enjoying Mother Nature at her finest
  • Enjoying the freedom of moving around the house with all the space we need
  • For me, exercising on a rented treadmill, Louise found on Facebook which Zef delivered
  • Receiving an endless stream of supportive email messages and comments from our dear family/readers/friends

    The waterbuck is a large antelope found widely in sub-Saharan Africa. It is placed in the genus Kobus of the family Bovidae. It was first described by Irish naturalist William Ogilby in 1833. The thirteen subspecies are grouped under two varieties: the common or Ellipsiprymnus waterbuck and the Defassa waterbuck. Please, visitors and locals, stay away from the fence while waterbucks are on the wrong side of the rising river. They are easily stressed and frightened and could become injured in a rush to escape from humans.

The list of the wonderfulness could go on and on, mainly for the simple pleasure of life. As a result, the above less-than-desirable scenarios have been all the more tolerable. Then again, during our previous 18 months spent in Marloth Park in 2013/2014 and again in 2018/2019, many of the above scenarios transpired during those times.

Even then, we were grateful to be here, tolerating the nuances of living in Africa, especially after we spent three months in Kenya in 2013 before coming to South Africa, where conditions were much more challenging than here.

We drove past this unusual cactus shape.

Such conditions in Kenya included; nowhere to sit inside the house other than on the bed; living only on the veranda day and night; no air-con in the bedroom making sleep impossible; continually looking out for venomous insects on the floors, walls, ceilings, and in our shoes, a tiny galley kitchen only suitable for one person at a time, making cooking painstaking and laborious; high risk of crime, guards at our house 24/7, armed military at grocery stores, ATMs, and other venues. This list went on and on.

A local, protecting their plants from animals. There are mixed opinions on plants in Marloth Park. Shouldn’t all the plants be suitable for the diets of the wildlife? Isn’t this their territory?”

Louise’s homes always have great fully equipped kitchens, air-con in bedrooms, fewer insects, and more comforts and conveniences overall. By the time we arrived in Marloth Park, directly after leaving Kenya, this lifestyle was easy comparatively. Yes, it’s still Africa, hot, humid, and at times, uncomfortable. And yes, at times, there are dangerous snakes or potentially dangerous other creatures among us.

We drove by “The Orange”  house, which is now for sale. We love this location so much, weren’t missing the former house where we stayed for 15 months in 2018/2019.

However we look at it, we belong here. And yes, we’ll miss the socialization we so cherished due to Covid-19, but surely somehow we’ll manage to get together with trusted friends and neighbors, exercising the utmost of caution and diligence to stay free of Covid-19. As for the vaccine here in South Africa could be a year until it’s available to us.

We made it through the first year of the dreadful virus, and we hope and pray we’ll make it through the next.

Baboons, who are annoying and destructive, are seated in the garden of a house we drove by.

Stay safe. Wear a mask covering your mouth and nose. Protect yourself. Protect others. Our 14-day quarantine flew by, albeit eventfully so, as shown above, and we’re no worse for the wear!

Photo from one year ago today, January 27, 2020:

Three years ago today, we wrote: “This is unreal…the Black Browed Albatross on Steeple Jason Island, Antarctica, remove tall grass from these massive “pod-like” structures, adding mud and vegetation to make it a freestanding pod on which they can nest. Here’s a young chick making a little noise while atop their elevated nest That’s amazing.” See the post here. For text from the year-ago post, please click here.

A rough and muddy outing brought some treasures to light…

We couldn’t have been more thrilled to see these giraffes while driving on the wet, muddy roads.

Thank goodness, we have power. Unfortunately, we don’t have WiFi. A line went down due to the relentless pounding rain. Hopefully, it will be up sometime today. Cyclone Eloise is still hovering in the interim and should be out of our area in the next day or two. We are bracing ourselves for more rain and power outages in the next 24 hours.

Giraffes are amazing animals. The giraffe is an African artiodactyl mammal, the tallest living terrestrial animal, and the largest ruminant. It is traditionally considered to be one species, Giraffa camelopardalis, with nine subspecies.

Yesterday, we made the long, muddy, pot-hole-ridden drive to the Crocodile River to see how high it had risen. I could only take a few photos since I was determined not to get my shoes and ankles muddy. I only have a few pairs of shoes and didn’t want to muddy them.

The feet and legs of the few animals that visited were caked in thick mud. It was funny to watch the four bushbucks that stopped by trying to shake it off their feet. They, too, hadn’t seen such rain in quite a while.

They were assembled in one particular area, close to the parklands, to roam freely without hitting their heads.

After the challenging drive on the uneven, muddy roads as Tom averted one outrageous pothole and sunken ravine after another,  we made our way out to Olifant Rd, the only paved road in Marloth Park. A stop at The Bush Centre’s meat market was a must out of meat in the freezer. Besides, I needed more cream for my coffee when my liter container spoiled in the refrigerator during multiple power outages.

A youngster with mom and dad hovering at a short distance.

Going into the two shops we visited was concerning when mask-wearing was either non-existent or worn below the nose. In South Africa, there’s a law to properly wear masks when outdoors in public areas and inside all enclosed shops and public spaces. Some shop workers were careless in this regard. I didn’t hesitate to ask those who didn’t comply to “please cover your face and your nose.” No doubt, I got a few dirty looks. I don’t care.

“It feels good to get off my legs for a while.”

Still, we haven’t gone to Komatipoort to grocery shop and to stop at the pharmacy. With the storms of the past several days, it made no sense. Today, Louise is heading there and will pick up a few items for us. With our more strict way of eating, our ingredients list has downsized considerably.

A mom and baby were munching on leaves.

With the storm still brewing, we don’t expect to see much wildlife today. However, yesterday’s outing reaped some rewards when we spotted several giraffes along the way, shown in today’s photos. Hopefully, if the house’s WiFi isn’t back on by the time we’re ready to upload today’s post, I can get my phone’s hotspot to work well enough to accomplish this.

Looks like a magpie playing in rainwater near the area called, Two Trees.

Now, at almost 10:00 am Tuesday, the WiFi is back on for the first time in nearly 24 hours, except for a few hours, here and there.  Last night, after dinner and the necessity of going indoors when the mozzies got terrible, we couldn’t stream any shows or do anything online. As a result, we went to bed early and played games on our phones.

We could read books on our phones on Kindle. Still, after reading so many novels during the first few years of our travels, we lost interest in reading books. Instead, we found ourselves listening to podcasts, watching videos, and streaming TV series, movies, and documentaries. With no WiFi, we can’t do any of these. We both tried reading books on our Kindle apps, but neither of us could get into it.

Mr. Bushbuck’s muddy feet.

Now, much to our delight, the house’s WiFi has returned as I continue to write. With both power and WiFi working, we’re practically giddy. I’ve already done two sessions on the treadmill this morning, and I’m now able to listen to some of my favorite podcasts to make the time pass more quickly.

Mud on young bushbuck’s horns.

Tonight’s dinner is planned for the gas braai with a few simple tasks required to put it all together. We were able to get two loads of laundry done last night and placed them on the portable clothesline to dry indoors. Soon, Zef will arrive to clean the house, after which we’ll head to the hardware store to pick up a lighter for the citronella candles and insect repellent coils we use at night on the veranda. (No, Tom is still not smoking. Yeah!)

Several waterbucks, used to live on the Kruger National Park side of the Crocodile River, found themselves on the Marloth Park side, separated by the fence, preventing them from entering Marloth. The rangers are keeping an eye out for their safety and asking residents and visitors to stay away to avoid stressing the animals. They aren’t used to being near humans.

As always, here in Marloth Park, when weather conditions are tolerable, wildlife is visiting, power is restored, and WiFi is working, we don’t need anything. Of course, the coup d’etat will be when we can get together with some of our many human friends. Today is day #13 of self-imposed quarantine. One more day to go.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, January 26, 2020:

In Kauai, Hawaii, on this date in 2015, our friend Richard, who sadly has since passed away, sat behind the impressive magistrate’s desk, gave us a feeling as to how it would have been to visit his office in St. Louis, Missouri might have been, before he and wife Elaine moved to Kauai. For more, please from that post, click here. For the post from one year ago, please click here as we approached time to leave the US.

Cyclone Eloise making her mark…No power for over a day…Inverter keeping our equipment alive…

Last night, two bushbucks stopped by during the storm. I took the photos using the flash since we had no lights to illuminate the garden.

This morning around 9:00 am, the WiFi signal was restored. The power had been out since 5:30 am Sunday. It’s now midday on Monday. The inverter has been working well to keep our phones and laptops charged but can’t be used for much else to avoid it running out of power. That helps us considerably.

Ah, Cyclone Eloise keeps pounding us with torrential rains and occasional thunder, but fortunately with only occasional gusts of high winds. We heated water for coffee/tea this morning on the gas braai on the side burner. Last night, we ordered takeaway dinner from Jabula when it was raining too hard to cook bacon and eggs on the grill, all the food we had left.

The eyes of the two bushbucks are showing in the dark.

We’ll probably do the same tonight since there’s no way we can grocery shop today when the roads to Komatipoort may be flooded. If we have to do takeaway for a week, we will. Jabula’s food is excellent, and Tom loved his ribs, chips (fries), salad with a small loaf of white bread while I had a double order of the starter, spicy peri-peri chicken livers.

There are other restaurants in Marloth Park offering takeaway, which we may try since we don’t want to get into the rut we were in during those ten months in the hotel in Mumbai, eating the same meals over and over again. However, owners Dawn and Leon know precisely how to have my food made to comply with my eating method. That can’t be assured from other restaurants.

Three warthogs ventured out in the inclement weather. We tossed them a big load of pellets for their efforts in coming out in this weather.

Last night, during the pelting rain, we had only a few visitors: two male bushbucks stopped by when the rain let up for a while, and then we saw “Mom and Babies” who scrambled to get every last pellet we tossed their way. During daylight hours, when the worst of the rain had yet to hit from Eloise, we only saw Frank, The Misses, and The Chicks, and the hornbill mating pair still busy with their nest in the hijacked bushbaby house.

Photo taking has been at a minimum the past few days, so we are sharing a few recent shots from last night and those taken over the past week or so. I considered doing a video of the pounding rain, but its brunt occurred during the night when the winds were much worse. I didn’t consider it sensible to head outside during that situation.

Mongoose is contemplating how she will crack the egg. She banged it on the cement.

Today, it is very cool, which is refreshing, although the humidity is relatively high. It’s currently 74F, 23C which is comfortable, the lowest we’ve experienced since our arrival. This is only temporary due to the cyclone. Once that ends, surely the high summer heat will return, often as high as 104F, 40C, or more.

Louise and Danie offered to bring us their generator to keep the fridge and freezer cool and allow for air-con at night. But, we’ve already lost the few items we had left in the refrigerator, and if the power doesn’t return soon, the bag of chicken wings and containers of bacon in the freezer will also soon be lost. As long as we have WiFi to entertain us and serve our posting and communication needs, we’re fine.

Mongoose was enjoying the contents of an egg we offered.

You may ask, “How the heck are we putting up with this after all we’ve been through?”

Hey, today is day #12 of our 14-day self-imposed quarantine, and we didn’t get Covid-19 from the 59-hour journey from Mumbai to Nelspruit. We’re grateful. We’re thrilled! What’s to complain about? Soon, this power thing will subside, although not entirely, when load shedding will resume.

Soon, we’ll be able to cautiously grocery shop and stop in a pharmacy for a few items for the first time in a year!!! Soon, we’ll be able to shop at the Biltong shop in Komatipoort to buy that great South Africa jerky, the best we’ve had in the world. Soon, we’ll have an opportunity to visit with some of our friends, old and new, who will and have maintained social distancing and mask-wearing with diligence since Covid-19 arrived in Marloth Park a few months ago.

Dad Hornbill is considering his nest-building options.

Soon, we’ll be able to use the electric stove, turn on fans as needed, and use the electric water kettle. Soon, I’ll be able to use the rented treadmill again, which isn’t working without power. One thing we’ve learned after ten months in that hotel room is patience. It was only that level of tolerance that allowed us to get here eventually. We wait patiently.

Oops, I had to take a break to toss birdseed into the garden. Frank, The Misses, The Chicks, and Auntie just stopped by. They make a cute little chirping sound when they eat the seeds. It is delightful.

A forkl of kudus in the garden, and of course, a warthog in the photo. They never miss a photo op.

Another oops, we had to come indoors when the wind picked up during the downpour to prevent our equipment from getting wet. Life in the bush.

Wow! By the time I was about to upload this post, our power was restored. We don’t know for how long, but we’ll enjoy it while we have it! Time to go work out on the treadmill while I can.

Happy day.

Photo from one year ago today, January 25, 2020:

Ironically, similar to a new photo we posted a few days ago. Here is a photo from seven years ago today at this link. On either side of the face are two hanging red-tipped pieces of skin. When the Helmeted Guinea-fowl moves, these swing around like a pair of dangling earrings. Ah, the beauty of the wild! For last year’s post, please click here.

Power outage due to Cyclone Eloise…We’re figuring it out…

Please note: Due to a power outage and poor WiFi signal, we cannot upload photos until power and WiFi are restored.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, it was highly likely that power would be out today, and it is. It went out early this morning when I was awakened by the temperature, climbing in the bedroom without the air-con running. Louise sent a message this morning to inform us it wasn’t “load shedding” but a power outage due to last night’s rains, and Eskom has yet to come out to work on it.

Why the power goes out from the rain when there’s little wind baffles me. But with the poor infrastructure here, anything seems to be instrumental in the power going off, often for hours, if not for days at a time, under certain mysterious conditions. There’s no point in attempting to analyze the reasons. It is what it is.

Right now, I am using my phone as a hotspot, utilizing Google Fi data service. We only use it for short bursts such as circumstances, such as today when the power and tower aren’t working for the house’s WiFi. It’s pricey, and only warrants use during these situations. Thus, the number of photos in today’s post will be limited.

At least now, we have the inverter to help us for a while, but that runs on batteries, and if power isn’t restored soon enough, that will stop working. For now, we can charge our laptops and phones, but the WiFi isn’t working. That’s most likely due to the system at the tower being down due to the power outage.

At the moment, as I’d done last weekend during load shedding, I am writing the text for today’s post using the offline app, “text,” which I can save to upload later on when the power is restored and then add the photos I’d planned for today. Cyclone Eloise is beginning to impact South Africa, but we cannot see how seriously without a connection.

Instead, we can continue to sit at the big table on the veranda and do it the “old-fashioned” way, watching the weather before our eyes. Right now, it rains intermittently, with occasional big gusts of wind rustling through the trees. The only visitors we’ve had this morning have been a half dozen helmeted guinea-fowl who came and “peck, peck, pecked” the seeds we’ve been tossing out for (francolin) Frank, his family and friends, and our nesting pair of hornbills who’ve taken over the bushbaby house in a tree at the edge of the veranda.

During past stays in Marloth Park, we’d noticed we didn’t get many visitors during rainstorms. I genuinely believe many animals seek shelter when the rain, wind, thunder, and lightning frighten them. Oops, I spoke too soon. I just looked up to find Frank, The Misses, and The Chicks have stopped by for some seeds. We tossed out several handfuls of seeds, and they are making happy little chirps as they peck at the seeds. It’s quite endearing.

Oddly, or maybe not so oddly, this inconvenience causes us little concern compared to our experience of the past ten months. We are outdoors, don’t feel confined, and have nature at our disposal when the timing is right. Fortunately, we don’t have much food on hand to spoil in the refrigerator and freezer.

We’d hope to head out to shop tomorrow in Komatipoort, but until the threat of Eloise is over, it makes no sense to fill the fridge with food that could ultimately spoil. Tonight for dinner, we’ll make bacon and cheesy scrambled eggs on the grill, which has a side burner since we are all out of meat, other than frozen chicken wings, which may spoil if the power doesn’t return by this evening.

Some may say, “Why didn’t we go to a well-established tropical island renting a beachfront property and be able to relax in comfort?” We understand this mentality, and for many, that would be an ideal scenario. But, for us, “rough and tumble” types, we feel right at home with some inconveniences when the tradeoffs are well worth the occasional trouble.

We’d love to go to Kruger National Park soon, but all the facilities are closed due to Covid-19 and now, this storm. There would be nowhere to stop for a bathroom break. We’re hoping soon enough, activity in Kruger will be restored, and we’ll purchase an annual pass and visit as often as we’d like.

There’s not much on the agenda today in light of these current developments. However, when and if the weather improves, we may see our wildlife friends in abundance.

Have a safe and healthy day!

Photo from one year ago today, January 24, 2020:

Almost ready to leave Arizona, while visiting some of Tom’s siblings,  here are his four sisters (two weren’t able to travel to Arizona). From left to right (back row); Colleen, Tom, Mary Ellen with Rita, and Margie (front row). For the story one year ago, please click here.

Tropical Cyclone Eloise heading this way?…Photos of our house in the bush…

Love Bird's Nest
View of the veranda and pool at Love Bird’s Nest, our home in the bush.

From this news article from last night and all over the local news the past few days, apparently, Tropical Cyclone Eloise may be heading this way. Currently, it’s hammering the nearby country of Mozambique, a mere 30 km, 18.7 miles from us, a half-hour drive.

Will it reach us, such a short distance away? It may, but we suspect we won’t get the brunt of it. With a delicate infrastructure here in South Africa such a storm could leave us without WiFi and power for days, if not weeks. If, for this reason, you do not see us here in a few days, you can rest assured this is the reason we aren’t online. Please be patient and we’ll return as quickly as possible. In the interim, we aren’t worried and are not taking any special precautions.

This morning, while reviewing the many comments we receive overnight, our regular readers, Caro and Peter, who’ve been interested and supportive of our travels, wrote to us, requesting we post photos of our current bush house. We’ve been planning to do so in a future post, but, I suppose now is as good a time as ever.

The photos we’re sharing today are those we’ve borrowed, from Louise’s website, found here. The listing for this house, named Lovebird’s Nest is found here. If at any point, you are considering a visit to Marloth Park, please feel free to contact Louise for one of her many fine holiday rentals and the best “guest satisfaction” in the world. Plus, she and Danie own the only information center of its kind in Marloth Park, rife with information about rentals, activities, dining, and more.

For the link to the Info Center, please click here. Their air-conditioned office is welcoming and comfortable utilizing all safety protocols for Covid-19. Their years of experience in this area by owners, Louise and Danie, are unsurpassed. Even during these challenging times of Covid-19, a visit to Marloth Park may be the perfect holiday for singles, couples, and families. Besides, making friends, is easy and seamless in Marloth Park, even for the single traveler.

XMA Header Image
Exterior photo of the Info Centre in Marloth Park.

There is a fun-packed water park within the perimeters of Marloth Park, ideal for kids and families. See the link here for Bushveld Atlantis or contact Louise for more information. The prices for services, events, and activities are the same at The Info Centre as you’d find on your own, but you’ll have the benefit of Louise’s professional guidance and recommendations to ensure the activities you choose are suitable for your needs, desires, and safety requirements. Louise can also be reached: info@marlothkruger.com.

I’d like to mention that Louise’s husband Danie is a home builder of exceptional quality, creativity, and reasonable prices with outstanding references and homes he’s built that he can show prospective buyers illustrating the integrity of his work. He can also be reached at this email: info@marlothkruger.com or by phone: +27 0836559165.

We wandered indoors around 8:00 pm, a little earlier than usual, with the mozzies on a rampage for a taste of my vulnerable flesh. Although I thoroughly load up on repellent with DEET several times a day (the only repellent that protects me) and especially at dusk and in the dark, it became impossible for us to continue to be outdoors. Some nights are worse than others. Tom never gets bit or needs to use repellent. Go figure.

Today, after uploading this post, we’re heading to a house close to the Crocodile River where a woman is offering “free bananas” for anyone who’d like to come to get them. Most of the wildlife love bananas. So, off we go, before too long.

We have no big plans for today. Most locals are staying away from the restaurants due to Covid-19, although many have set up outdoor dining that is safe and suitable. Also with the sale of alcohol banned for several more weeks, many prefer to dine at home.

Today is day #10 of our self-imposed quarantine. Only four more days to go. But, even then, we’ll continue to be cautious about socializing and getting out, so it may not be much different than it is right now. In any case, we’re content and continue to be grateful we made it here to Marloth Park, our own little slice of Heaven.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 23, 2020:

This photo taken in 2014 when we toured the Panorama Route was posted last year on this date. This handsome cheetah we met at Moholoholo Rehabilitation Centre was recovering from poisoning due to an attempt to kill him for his hide. He won’t return to the wild due to the risk of being killed by his species. He’s been made an “ambassador” to represent the rehab center in saving his and other species from becoming endangered.  Watching him through the electrified fencing, we were anxious to get inside for “hands-on.” Please click here for more.

Final expenses for one year in India, including 10 months in the hotel in Mumbai…More fun photos…

The colors on the heads of Helmeted Guineafowls are bright and unseemly.
Yesterday afternoon, as promised, I got to work preparing the following numbers for our expenses incurred since we’d arrived in India on January 31, 2020, until we departed on January 11, 2021, a few weeks short of one year. Included, first, are the expenses for the train tour on the Maharajas Express, followed by the private tour we’d booked which began immediately after the one-week train tour of India. The second grouping is for the expenses while living in the hotel in Mumbai for 291 days.

Based on the fact we are now in South Africa, we included the money exchange into Rands (ZAR), from US dollars. If you are in another country and would like to see these numbers in your familiar currency, please click here for an easy link. This is simple to use but if you have any problems, feel free to ask us for assistance.

There are no less than three mating pairs of francolins in our garden.
Expenses  US Dollar  South African Rand (ZAR)
Maharajas Express Train Fare for 2                     11,996.00 177,694.35
Tips                          433.38 6,419.57
India Tour                      19,530.00 289,293.98
Dining Out                          115.43               1,709.84
Visa Fees – India for 2                         120.00 1,777.54
ATM fees                           24.30 359.95
Total                     32,219.11 477,255.23
Avg Daily Cost  53 days (6 nights train, tour, plus 4 nights hotel in Mumbai prior to lockdown)                           607.91 9,004.81
Expenses US Dollar

  South African Rand

Mumbai Hotel (10 months) inc. meals                       31,213.89 471,295.50
Tips                          1071.53 16,178.93
Supplies, pharmacy, toiletries & miscellaneous                          2515.06 37,963.31
Dining in restaurants     Included in hotel bill
Visa extension Fees – India for 2                           136.00 2,052.84
ATM fees                          18.25 275.47
Total                        34,954.73 527,175.31
Avg Daily Cost 291 nights                             120.15 1,812.06

Grand Total from above:                       67,173.84        1,012,797.96

Average Daily Cost 347 days                     193.51               2,917.60

We’re thrilled to have these numbers finally presented here. In actuality, it wasn’t that difficult to do since I had already recorded everything in our usual spreadsheet. All I had to do was convert the currency and figure out an easy to read format since numbers like this aren’t easy to format in a website such as ours.

Here are a few of our resident francolins, a mom, a dad, and two fast-growing chicks. In the past, we only had one mating pair at any given time.

As it turned out, we didn’t spend much more than we would have in a normal year of world travel with the exception of cruises. It’s those pricey cruises that always increase our annual expenses. We haven’t included our health insurance or insurance on our belongings which runs approximately another US $5300, ZAR 79,844.61 per year.

Also, we didn’t include purchases for clothing, digital equipment, our phone calling, and WiFi use (pay only for what we use on Google Fi plus US $17, ZAR 256.11, a month for the service). Also, we didn’t include annual fees for cloud services, website services, Ancestry.com, and various streaming services.

A young kudu male with lots of horns yet to grow.

Although we spend our days and nights on the veranda, when we go indoors for the night, we usually watch one streamed episode on my laptop, which we place atop a book on the bed. With no TV in the bedroom, we have no interest in sitting in front of the TV in the lounge room where it’s often very hot and “buggie” at night.

As most of you know, we only buy clothes when we’re in the US other than a few items we may desperately need from time to time. Right now, I have less clothing than I’ve had since we began traveling, but what I wear these days has become less of a concern for either of us over the years. As long as we have something clean and in reasonably good shape, we’re content.

A tentative young kudu looking over mom’s back, checking us out.

Thank goodness, here in Marloth Park, there’s no need for anything “dressy” and with the unlikelihood of cruising for the next year or two, we won’t even have to give our wardrobe a thought. We often wonder when cruising will be possible again and are surmising, that most likely, future cruises will require proof of vaccination.

With the slow pace of the prospect of vaccinations becoming available in South Africa, we may not be able to cruise for some time. It’s not looking promising. By the way, today is day #9 of our self-imposed quarantine with only 5 more days to go. As mentioned, we will have tremendous peace of mind when the 14 days have passed. We’re doing the Covid-19 quarantine countdown from the day we arrived in Marloth Park on January 13th, not the day we began the long journey on January 11th.

Of course, we will continue to exercise tremendous caution in wearing masks, social distancing, and handwashing until such time in the distant future that it’s not required to do so, whenever that may be, if ever. It’s hard to speculate.

Wildebeest Wille and Ms. Bossy Kudu getting along over pellets.

As soon as the vendor arrives with his truck at Louise and Danie’s office about five minutes from here, we’ll drive over to collect a 40 kg, 88 pounds, bag of sweet potatoes for the wildlife. Most of them love the small potatoes which the farmer gives away since they are too small for sale at the grocery stores. They are dirty and often attached to stems but the kudus, warthogs, and wildebeests love them. After all, they are used to grazing in the dirt anyway so this is normal for them.

That’s it for today, folks. It’s hard to believe we left India 11 days ago.

Stay safe and healthy!

Photo from one year ago today, January 22, 2020:

One year ago, we posted this photo we’d taken in 2013 while on a road trip. Bourke’s Luck Potholes which was definitely our favorite photo of the day on our three-day tour of the Panorama Route and Blyde River Canyon. See the year-ago post here.