Part 2 …An exciting opportunity in the bush…Postponed until tomorrow…Great evening with friends…

In Sydney, Ken and Tom toasting “James Squire, the Swindler” summer ale in the pub!

We won’t be posting Part 2 from yesterday’s radio broadcast. The stream won’t be available until Monday. The broadcast was live, but apparently, the stream hasn’t been set up yet. Tomorrow when we return from Malalane after my dental surgeon appointment and some grocery shopping, we’ll be preparing that post, providing the stream will be available online by that time.

In Sydney, Linda and I toasted to the special occasion.

Sorry for the incorrect information in yesterday’s post here. This is South Africa, not the US. Things move a little slower here. For some reason, I assumed once the live broadcast was presented, the stream would be available.

As for last night’s first dinner party for four since we arrived in Marloth Park, we had a fabulous time with Linda and Ken. It was astonishing to see our old friends. The last time we were together was in 2019 in Wales, UK, when we all explored the ruins of famous castles. See the photo below. See that post here.

In Wales, Ken set up our camera timers for this photo.

Before that time, we saw them many times in 2018/2019 while we were in Marloth Park. And, before that, we got together in Sydney. Australia and met up at the Fortune of War Pub, the oldest pub in the city, had a few drinks, and walked around the fabulous city, and ended up having lunch at a cozy restaurant. See that post here. They, too, like to travel and are feeling disappointed about travel restrictions at this time due to Covid-19.

Tom and I and Ken and Linda, great friends from Marloth Park who happened to be in Sydney at the same time as us! Small world!

We felt comfortable being with them in light of Covid-19. They, like us, are cautious in avoiding contact with possible exposure to the virus. Still, we did our best to be socially distanced as much as we could, until finally, we went indoors to have dinner at the round dining room table to escape the enthusiasm of the awful mosquitoes who have been on a rampage since the recent rains.

One can never be too cautious, whether it’s concerned about getting the virus or possibly contracting malaria from mosquito bites, even when covered with repellent 24/7. I have found it necessary to spend each day indoors to reduce my exposure to the bites. At night, it’s even worse, so we end up going indoors shortly after darkness falls when it becomes even worse. Every four hours, I load up on the DEET repellent to no avail.

In Sydney, friends Linda and Ken, whom we met in Marloth Park in 2013.

In a few months, as it continues to cool down as winter approaches in June, there won’t be as many mosquitoes. Plus, the cool weather is delightful when sitting outdoors or sleeping. In any case, we’re still enjoying every moment of our time in Marloth Park.

The socialization, the wildlife, the scenery, the people, and the unique environment we’ve ever lived in our years of world travel. In a perfect world, the visa situation wouldn’t be such an issue. Soon, we’ll need to start looking again for some options for a new visa stamp. We have to leave here in only 43 days.

Today, we’ll lay low. The weather is ideal, not too humid and cooler than usual. The Wifi and power are working.  Tonight, I hope for a night of better sleep than last night when I tossed and turned, awakening for hours during the night. I want to be well-rested for the unknown of what is yet to come for tomorrow’s dental appointment at 9:00 am.

Tomorrow’s post will be later than usual since we don’t expect to be back in Marloth Park until 1:00 or 2:00 pm. Have an excellent Sunday!

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

The spacious veranda outside the door to our lovely suite at Tuli Tiger Resort in Kanha Tiger Reserve in India. For more, please click here.

Part 1…An exciting opportunity in the bush…

Duikers are shy and elusive, rarely coming close for pellets. This adorable male has stopped by a few times, checking us out but not quite ready to partake of the pellets.

Last night, while out to dinner at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant in Marloth Park, while laughing and chatting with owners, Dawn and Leon, Leon got a call on his phone from Louise, who had been trying to call me my phone but I failed to answer. For some reason, I’d turned off the ringer. But, knowing Louise, she knew where to find us.

She told Leon she had an urgent message for us. We couldn’t imagine what it could be. Quickly, we listened to what she had to say and were surprised when she asked us to come to their Marloth Park Info Centre at 7:30 am tomorrow, Saturday, to be interviewed for a radio station in Nelspruit, Radio Lowveld, 100.5 FM.

When Louise and Danie, who provide a fantastic resource for tourists at their Marloth Park Info Centre located at 3043 Olifant Drive, asked us to come to the center at 7:30 this morning to interview Radio Lowveld, at first, we hesitated. It was early to get up, shower, dress, and be out the door.

This is newly named Peter, Paul, and Mary. They have become quite regular visitors to our garden.

But, when Louise explained that the purpose of us being interviewed was to promote tourism in Marloth Park, we jumped at the chance. The early morning time would work fine for us if we managed to leave Jabula early enough to get back to our bush house and get a good night’s sleep after getting to be at a decent hour.

We continued schmoozing with Dawn and Leon, ate our usual delicious dinner, and left before 8:00 pm, with me even leaving an unfinished full glass of red wine, something I’d rarely do. More on my mind was being fresh and sharp for the early morning interview. As it turned out later in the evening, Louise texted saying we could arrive at 8:15 am instead of 7:30. That helped.

This photo was taken from the car window when we drove along the Crocodile River yesterday afternoon.

Once back at the house, we settled in, watched a Netflix series on my laptop, and by 10:30 pm, I was asleep, Tom shortly after that. With no time to prepare an agenda for the interview, we realized we’d have no choice but to “wing it,” focusing on the reasons why we continue to return to Marloth Park, now for the fourth time, for a total of 20 months, when repeat stays anywhere in the world weren’t on our radar when we decided to travel the world, beginning on October 31, 2012.

Early on, Tom and I made a pact that we’d never return to the exact location, other than to visit family in the USA, to ensure we continually expanded our horizons by seeing more and more countries and points of interest along the way. After all, the world is a vast place.

Hopefully, soon, zebras will come to see us in the garden.

Anytime one does a broadcast interview or a public speech, it’s easy to think back, wishing we’d said “this or that.” In this case, I wished I had focused more on promoting tourism to Marloth Park than on our reasons for coming here again and again.

But, perhaps, that’s what listeners want to hear…why a typical couple, like us, keeps returning to a favorite vacation/holiday spot, regardless of travel goals and aspirations, simply because they want to, as opposed to what one “should do” when traveling. For us, the reasons we love Marloth Park are uncomplicated:

  1. The access to viewing animals in the wild, up close and personal, is a rare experience in this world. Who wouldn’t love a traffic jam with six or more giraffes blocking the road? When have you ever had a zebra, kudu, warthog or wildebeest, in your backyard or garden? Who wouldn’t love some of the best bird watching in the world while sitting on your holiday home’s veranda?
  2. Meeting some of the friendliest and most welcoming locals on the planet, based on our past worldwide experiences which provide us with an extensive social life.
  3. Easy access to the Big Five in a short 25-minute drive to enter the massive Kruger National Park at the Crocodile Bridge entrance gate, which covers an area of 19,485 km2 (7,523 sq mi) in the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga in northeastern South Africa, and extends 360 km (220 mi) from north to south and 65 km (40 mi) from east to west.”
  4. Conveniently located to many other stunning tourist activities, too many to mention here. But Louise and Danie have tons of information available at the Info Centre, conveniently located in the center of Marloth Park on the main paved road.
  5. Fantastic restaurants with great food, conversation, and warm, welcoming
  6. Local shops for supplies, food, biltong, liquor, with a post office, hair salons, ATMs, hardware, feed shop, fantastic water park ideal for kids and families, and so much more, contained in two easy to access shopping centers
  7. A short minute drive from any direction to see the Crocodile River, which separates Marloth Park and Kruger National Park with viewings of lions, elephants, cape buffalo
  8. Endless options for holiday rentals, including private houses, lodges, resorts, and hostels with prices suitable for all budgets, all right within the borders of Marloth Park. For us, Louise and Danie are our chosen hosts for the holiday homes we’ve rented during our four visits over the years providing exemplary services and properties. There are countless other properties you may choose offered by other property owners and managers.
  9. Visiting a game reserve, Lionspruit, located within Marloth Park with lions, whose roars often fill the air at night, music to our ears.
  10. A leisurely-paced, quiet environment offered the utmost of holiday options in a unique setting unlike anywhere else in the world. This magical place leaves every visitor with stories and photos to share for a lifetime.
Kudus were stopping by for some treats and a drink from the pool.

The above reasons are why we chose to return again and again to Marloth Park for some of the finest experiences we’ve had in over eight years of world travel. This visit right now is by no means our last. We will continue to break our pact of not repeating locations in our worldwide travels and return to Marloth Park over and over again.

Please check back tomorrow when we’ll share a link to our interview with Radio Lowveld, 100.5 FM. We’re excited to share it with all of you.

Now I need to get back to work preparing tonight’s dinner for friends Linda and Ken, who will be arriving in about four hours.

Have a safe and pleasing day!

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

The photo was taken while on a road trip to our following location on our private tour of India. Please click here for more photos.

Busy weekend plans in the bush…

Ms. Mongoose is expecting. Note her wide girth.

It’s another late start to the day. It’s almost 1:00 pm, and we’ve been busy this morning, leaving little time to post. Now that we have power, once again, and I am feeling better, I’ve been able to resume working out on the borrowed/rented treadmill. It feels good to be working out.

Another post from pregnant mama mongoose. She proved to be fast on her feet when we offered her a few whole eggs. She had no trouble ensuring no one else would grab them.

Each hour, I set my phone’s timer to remind me that it’s time to go into the second bedroom, turn on the AC five minutes in advance and get back to work. It’s comparable to the walking I did in Mumbai during those ten long months, striving for 10,000 steps, 5 miles, 8 km, per day.

Tiny never fails to stop for a visit, pellets, and a rest.

Unfortunately, my Fitbit doesn’t read how many steps I have been doing on the machine since I don’t swing my arms. I keep my hands on the rails to record my heart rate to ensure it doesn’t go too high. The reading seems fairly accurate when I compare it to the reading on the Fitbit.

We call this male bushbuck Torn Ear. His left ear had an injury, leaving a flap of hair and skin. He often visits several times a day.

Another reason to keep my arms on the rails is for safety. Since the two operations on my legs 22 months ago, I am not as steady on my feet as I used to be. It’s for that reason we don’t walk on the dirt roads in Marloth Park. They are uneven, rocky, and riddled with potholes that could easily result in a fall.

Mongoose is attempting to drink from the swimming pool. There’s a pond in our garden that most animals use for drinking. But, some insist on drinking the chlorinated pool water. After a few gulps, they realize it’s not an ideal water source.

Then, this morning we headed out to the little market in Marloth Park for a few items for tomorrow night’s dinner when Linda and Ken will be joining us. Before we made our way to the market, we drove around the park, searching for wildlife sightings. We were able to spot only a few and jumped at the opportunity for a few new photos.

A dung beetle with his ball of dung, rolling it across the garden.

A short time later, gingerly, I made my way around the crowded little market, trying desperately to avoid getting too close to other shoppers. They didn’t have a few items on my list, so I had to do what they had on hand. One of the items I was looking for was toothpicks for the few bite-sized starters I’m serving with our sundowners.

Appetizers, called “starters” here in South Africa, are traditionally served with cocktails before dinner to avoid drinking alcohol on an empty stomach. I suppose this is the reason. This is also a common practice in the US. Tom and I, when it’s just the two of us, never have starters, fearful we’d get “full” even before the main meal is served.

One Wart has become a regular visitor, although he and Tiny don’t necessarily get along.

But, over the years, we’ve made an effort to repeat this tradition with our dinner or sundowners/happy hour guests. Also, for just the two of us, we didn’t/dodon’t need to consume any more food than what we had on the night’s menu, which would ultimately result in added weight we always struggled to avoid.

This morning, Tom weighed the same as he had when we were in Belize in early 2013. We’ve both been striving to take extra care of ourselves and to drop some unnecessary poundage. It’s been going well. I’d still like to level 2 or 3 more kg, five to six pounds, and this last bit is going very slowly. The number on the scale won’t budge for me, but my clothes fit, so I’m not complaining.

A yet-to-be-named female we’ve only seen a few times.

Tonight, the two of us are returning to Jabula Lodge and Restaurant for another dinner after last Saturday night’s birthday dinner. When we saw how careful they are regarding Covid-19, we felt comfortable returning so soon. We’ll sit outdoors on the main veranda and avoid spending any time sitting at our favorite spot, the bar.

Those days of gabbing while standing or sitting at a bar may be long gone, not only for us but for others all over the world, at their favorite pubs and dining establishments. We’ve always found bars a great place to commiserate with the locals in any giver town or city. It’s no different here in Marloth Park. Sadly Covid-19 has changed many forms of entertainment for all of us.

That’s it for today, folks. We’ll be back with more tomorrow. Stay safe.

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

This baby elephant was being prepped for humans to ride him in search of tigers. Riding an elephant is a custom in India, but as most of our readers know, we wouldn’t ride one, nor do we approve of elephants in captivity (or other animals, for that matter). For more, please click here.

Out! Out! and out some more!!!…We’re back up!!…

During the night, our water cooler leaked all the water from a fresh bottle onto the floor. No big deal. Zef was here this morning and fixed the issue. No big deal. This morning at about 7:30 am, the power went out. A big deal. Eskom, the unreliable electric company, is supposedly working on it. I won’t blame the workers. They seem to work hard to resolve issues as they occur.

Several hours ago, the WiFi went down. A big deal for us. It most likely doesn’t have anything to do with the power outage since often, when the power is down, we still have WiFi. The service provider is working on it. We shall see how this goes. In the worst case, I will upload a short post from my phone using its pricey data plan through Google Fi. (As I prepare to upload this post, the power is back on!)

It is so hot and humid today. It isn’t easy to breathe. We’ve been sweating like crazy. An occasional respite in the bedroom with the air-con on wouldn’t have been possible without power. However, our almost fully charged inverter allowed the fan in the bedroom to work until it ran out of juice. Not knowing when the power would be restored,  we avoided using the fan. We saved the inverter power for recharging our phones and laptops.

I have to wear clothes with a lot of coverage due to the mozzies. Right now, I am wearing a tee-shirt, jeans, and heavy socks. The mosquitoes love to bite my ankles, bare arms, neck, and hands, regardless of how many repellents I add to my bare skin several times a day. I am covered in bites from the past several days.

Tiny came to call.

Yes, I know. I promised not to whinge (to complain about these things) once we got out of that hotel room in India. Overall, we are fine. Tom and I don’t complain to one another about any of these issues. It doesn’t make it any easier if we do. Instead, we find ways to busy ourselves, playing games on our phones, which I’ll do when I’m done preparing the day’s post while offline, to which I won’t be able to add photos and eventually upload until the WiFi returns some point.

Yesterday, we used the oven to roast a beef brisket that was very fatty and boney, but the meat turned out delicious. With the fridge not working due to the power outage, we reheated the meat on the braai to eat it before it spoils. After lunch, we tossed dozens of bones to a 60 member band of mongooses. They love the little bones, eating the marrow and the scrapes of meat and fat. They bang to bones against the wall of the swimming pool in an attempt to “crack them open” for better access to the marrow. It was fun to watch.

A lone frequent warthog visitor, whom we’ve aptly named “Lonely Boy,” stopped by for a few hours. He’s easy to identify when one of his warts on the left side of his head is droopy and larger than the wart on the right side. We make a point of remembering little odd markings on the different species, making it easy to identify our regulars. We call them by the names we’ve given them, knowing full well at the bush house down the road, they are called by different names, not ours.

No doubt, giraffes like to get a load off their feet from time to time. Giraffes are the tallest land animals. “Female giraffes are up to 4.2 meters, 14 feet tall, and weigh up to 680 kg, 1,500 pounds. Meanwhile, males are up to 5.5 meters, 18 feet tall, and can weigh 1361 kg, 3,000 pounds.”

Any animal could have dozens of names as they wander through their preferred territory. But, oddly, once we’ve called them by a specific name a dozen times or so, they respond. Whether it’s the response to my high-pitched voice or the reputation we’ve bestowed upon them, remains to be seen. In any case, it’s great for us to see their ears perk up and see them look into our eyes when we mention their names. It’s all a part of the joy of being in Marloth Park.

Yesterday, we headed to Daisy’s Den, the feed store, to purchase a 5 kg, 11 pounds bag of birdseed. Frank and The Family have been enjoying the seeds, stopping by several times a day, squealing, making his loud Francolin noise to let us know he wants more. We appreciate it every time he stops by. Even if we’re indoors, we know he is, thereby the sounds he makes.

While we were out and about, we drove for a while in the park, looking for photo ops, and found only a few, which we’re sharing in today’s new photos. We’ve yet to see the ostrich family, we’ve heard so much about but continue on a mission to meet up with them at some point soon.

Impalas as seen across the Crocodile River.

We’re never disappointed to see giraffes and zebras. Oddly, since our arrival, no zebras have entered our garden. We believe it’s due to the low-lying brush surrounding the property that makes it difficult for them to get through. Nor have we seen any Big Daddies in our garden, the huge fully horned kudu bulls, again perhaps for the same reason.

Driving around Marloth Park provides us with an opportunity to see even more wildlife. The municipality road workers are busy grading the rough dirt roads to make it easier for cars to pass. It will take a while for this job to be completed. In the interim, it’s really risky to drive the roads with many dangerous ravines, deep trenches, and potholes. When we drive, we often have to turn around, unable to go forward without risking damage to the rental car or even getting stuck, neither of which we’re willing to risk.

Yes, it would be more sensible to rent a car with a 4-wheel drive, but based on how long we stay, the cost of such a vehicle is prohibitive. We make this sacrifice to keep our costs under control, something we always consider in our world travels.

We can’t resist taking photos of the growing Helmeted Guinea-fowl chicks with Mom or Dad.

Our friends, Linda and Ken, will arrive in Marloth Park sometime tomorrow. We’re excited to see them over the weekend. They will be staying at friends Kathy and Don’s home in the bush along the Crocodile River. Kathy and Don are waiting to get their Covid vaccines in Hawaii, their other home, until they head this way. That makes sense. It will be fantastic when we all can be together again, along with other friends who may arrive over the next several months.

I just heard from Louise. The power outage is a result of Vervet Monkeys climbing up an electric pole. Sadly, they were electrocuted, resulting in a power outage. They were high up on the pole; It could have been all day before the power was restored. What a relief! But, as I finish up this post, the power and WiFi are both back on.

Have a great day!

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

Perfection! A painting from a local artist we met at the resort at the Kanha National Park. For more, please click here.

Tom’s unique podcast story…Check out this video!…

Listen to the above video with a mention of Tom and his daily participation on the most popular podcast in the Midwest, Garage Logic.

Tom has been listening to a radio show, Garage Logic, directly from Minneapolis/St in the US. Paul, Minnesota, his birthplace. In the early 90s, he started listening to the shows when, at that time, radio broadcasts couldn’t necessarily be streamed hours after a live broadcast. If he were working during the broadcast, he’d missed out entirely. Episodes may be found here.

A few years ago, Garage Logic was no longer associated with KSTP 1500 radio and began to conduct their podcasts, available on several podcast apps. A few years later, as the internet became enhanced, he could stream the past broadcasts, listening at his leisure to the two to three-hour broadcasts. There was no charge to listen to the shows.

During our years of world travel, Tom rarely missed an episode. It was easy to catch up once we were settled in our following location if we were on a cruise or during travel days. In most cases, the WiFi signal was sufficient to be able to stream the shows. Over the years, I started listening to it in the background while I was preparing a post. You know, we girls can multitask! But, as Joe says, about wives, girlfriends, and significant others, the CP, the Chief Procurer.

Also, over the years, I found the show to be quite entertaining, often leaving us both laughing out loud over the host’s unfiltered opinions and attitudes. Although we don’t always agree with their viewpoint, it’s entertaining listening, as with many podcasts. It’s those differences that often add to the entertainment factor.

Joe Soucheray is the show’s host, accompanied by his sidekicks who cover social media, news, traffic, and production, including Chris Reuvers,  Matt Michalski, John Heidt, Kenny Olson, and more. The show is newsworthy, funny, and ultimately entertaining. They can present information that doesn’t offend anyone and yet is rich in content and views.

Over the years, Tom would email them tidbits from “On This Date in Minnesota History,” which they often read on the show mentioning Tom’s name. However, while we were in lockdown in Mumbai, India, Tom began sending Joe Soucheray an email with daily updates from the site for ten months.

Instead of Joe using the site himself directly, he chose to mention Tom’s name every day when Tom sent in the information, rarely missing a day. When Joe mentioned this in each podcast, he always said, “Only because they come from Mumbai, India, from our friend Tom Lyman, it was on this day… And then, Joe reads the information Tom sent in, “On This Date in Minnesota History.”

Now that we’re in South Africa, as Tom continues to send Joe the newest updates, “On this Date in Minnesota History,” Joe says, “Only because they come from Marloth Park, Mpumalanga, South Africa, from our friend Tom Lyman, it was on this day…And then Joe continues with the story.

If you were to click on the February 23rd podcast here and scroll forward to precisely one hour, 18 minutes, 39 seconds, you’d hear Joe’s mention of Tom. We must admit, we get a massive kick out of this. In addition, they have invited both of us to their studio to record a podcast with them the next time we are in Minnesota, which will be May 2022. It will be our pleasure. No doubt, we don’t mind a little “press” from time to time.

Have a fantastic day, and continue to stay safe.

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

There was no post on this date one year ago, based on the poor WiFi signal we experienced while on safari in Kanha National Park in India.

A nighttime, dream-like sighting for Tom…I missed it!…The responsibilities of living in the bush…

100 African Porcupine Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock
Cape Porcupine. Not our photos. I wish it were!

Last night, Tom was standing at the veranda sliding doors looking out into the garden. He spotted a porcupine, which, the moment he quietly opened the door, dashed into the bush, gone from sight. Of course, the sound of the door scared them away. Tom couldn’t have been more excited, as was I, but sorely disappointed I didn’t see it, even yet, get a photo. The likelihood of taking a photo of a porcupine at night, their preferred foraging time, is rather slim.

In 2018, dear friends Rita and Gerhard, who will soon return to Marloth Park while we’re here, managed to get a photo of a porcupine walking across their veranda late at night. We were so excited for them as they celebrated the unusual sighting. Last night before bed, I must have looked outside 20 times, hoping it would make another appearance. No such safari luck last night.

I went to bed with a smile on my face, thinking sometime down the road, we may be able to see it again. Louise mentioned that holes dug into the ground, porcupine shelters may have been flooded during the massive rainstorms over the past many weeks, bringing them out into the open more frequently than usual.

Wildebeest Willie can’t help himself. He loves to stop by.

We’ve had minimal visitors in the past few days with the regular weekend influx of tourists, who often feed the wildlife pellets and leftover human food. There’s no doubt the animals love eating chips, bread, corn, bagged snacks, sweets, and other such foods that may be toxic. This may result in them visiting those tourists as opposed to us. This has been the case over the time we’ve spent in Marloth Park. Weekends are typically quieter than weekdays.

But when unfamiliar and uneducated tourists come to this special area, they may not have the innate desire to keep the wildlife healthy and free from harm, as do those of us who have enjoyed the bush respecting the imperative balance of the wildlife’s diet. They aren’t like us, able to consume unhealthy foods and yet survive. The pellets are made entirely without chemicals and consist of the nutrients and vegetation found in their natural habitat.

Frank and The Misses were trotting over to the veranda for some pellets.

When the wildlife doesn’t have access to pellets, they continue to forage on the vegetation the rains have so blissfully provided to ensure a healthy diet for them. We only feed small amounts of pellets to anyone visiting species at a time and often see them revert to their usual sources of vegetation the moment the pellets we’ve tossed are consumed.

Other aspects of impairing the quality of life for the wildlife are loud music, loud talking and partying, teasing the animals, and most horrifying, speeding, and careless driving on the roads. Often during the many annual South African holidays, when usually the park is packed with tourists, an animal will be killed on the road. (Although Covid-19 has reduced the number of tourists during the past year).

Young Mr. Kudu was checking out the pellet situation in our garden.

Sure, wildlife often darts out into traffic onto a road with little notice of vehicles on the move. After all, they are animals, not humans, who’ve learned to look both ways before they cross. In these infrequent cases, an animal can be hit and fatally injured or killed.

Then, it is up to the rangers to determine if the animal must be euthanized or treated. Most often, the result has been euthanasia. It’s heartbreaking to read about these situations, whether from thoughtless, carelessness, or truly an accident. It’s hard to determine which was the case. If everyone were to drive slowly as posted on the road signs, 90% of these “accidents” would never transpire.

That’s not to say that all tourists fall into this category. There are many, like us, who arrive here with a passion for the care and treatment of wildlife, respecting their way of life and the fact that we humans are intruding upon their habitat, not the other way around.

Handsome kudu.

Also, it’s imperative to respect the many homeowners here, many of whom have used their life savings to own a home in this wildlife paradise and struggle to make ends meet while living on a fixed income as costs rise in the unstable economy in this country.

At times, tourists dump their garbage on the homeowner’s property, leaving for the monkeys to scavenge and litter the mess throughout the property and the bush neighborhood. At other times, we hear of burglaries in which TVs, computers, and other digital equipment, bedding, and household goods are taken. Most homeowners have security systems monitored by security companies located within Marloth Park but making sure it is engaged at all times is the responsibility of the owners and occupants.

We take the house keys in the bedroom at night with the red emergency button connected to a local security company. If there were an invasion or issue during the night, we’d need only push the button to set off the alarm. In minutes, the security people would arrive. But, if the keys are in another room, there would be no immediate recourse.

A herd or “clan” of impalas stopped by to check out the situation. They are very skittish, and if we make a move, they take off.

Another concern in Marloth Park is the risk of fire. Usually, the bush is arid, and it’s particularly susceptible to an outrageous, fast-moving fire. When visitors come, they must be educated on this matter and all of the items mentioned above, that yes, bonfires are fun and traditional in South Africa. Still, extreme care must be taken to ensure they are carefully and adequately observed during use and appropriately doused and put out after use.

Life here in the bush is not as simple as sitting back and enjoying the wildlife. There’s a huge responsibility that goes along with it. We can only hope and pray that this wildlife paradise will still be here in years to come, only possible with the love and support of those who visit and those who live here.

Have a great Tuesday, folks. It’s another hot and humid day here. The mozzies are on a rampage after me, so I may need to spend the better part of the day indoors. They are still biting even when loaded up with repellent. Go figure. Why they like me so much remains.

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

Our first photo of the elusive Bengal Tiger in Kanha National Park in India. There she was. We couldn’t have asked for a better vantage point. For more photos, please click here.

Late start to post…Busy day in town…What did we spend?…

Fred and Ethel. Fred is lying down. Notice warts on his face, and Ethel is standing behind him. She had no facial warts, typical for females.

It’s after 2:00 pm on Monday, and we have a later start than usual in preparing the daily post. Most likely, I will be breezing through this to be done by 4:00 pm, the time of day that I like to focus on making dinner, relaxing, hanging out with Tom, and watching the animals in the garden. Right now, the only visitors we have here are warthogs, Fred and Ethel.

It was a busy morning. First, we had a 9:00 am appointment at Dr. Luzaan’s dental office. We had our teeth cleaned after a two-year hiatus, and she conducted a full head x-ray to see if the tooth abscess was improved and hopefully gone. No such luck. Although it had improved a little, it wasn’t good enough to “wait and see.”

On Monday, March 1st, we have an appointment with Dr. Singh, the dental surgeon in Malalane, when he will decide what needs to be done, most likely the removal of the crown, a comprehensive laser treatment, followed by a new crown. In the worst case, the tooth will have to be removed, and since it’s forward in my mouth, I will need some replacement tooth.

Due to having heart disease, I will have to take a mega dose of more antibiotics one hour before the procedure, whatever and whenever it will be. Yuck. I wouldn’t say I like any of this. But, who does? Dental work is not pleasant for anyone. Fortunately, my remaining teeth and gums are in excellent condition.

They posed for another photo with Ethel lying down and Fred standing.

Afterward the dentist appointment, we headed to Dr. Theo’s office for the results of some blood work and another exam. He feels my heart is good for now, but there were a few issues with my blood results which we’ll be working on going forward, too complicated to get into here now, which perhaps I’ll address here in the future, none of which are too problematic at this point. As we age, we often encounter such issues.

Dr. Theo was confident we’d be able to get the Covid-19 vaccine within a few months. This will give us the peace of mind many of us have been seeking during these challenging times. Of course, getting the vaccine doesn’t mean we won’t have to wear masks, social distance, wash our hands and take precautions from now on. It simply means that we may not become as sick as we may have without it if we do get infected. That’s what we’re reading so far.

After the doctor, we headed to the pharmacy for a few items and then to Spar Supermarket for a few weeks of groceries. It’s not that we count out each day’s meals when we shop. It’s just that after all these years of shopping for the two of us, we have been able to gauge how much we need to purchase for a specific period. Today, we spent ZAR 3462.46, US $233.22, enough to last until we easily shop again in two weeks.

We’d expected the bill to be so much more when our trolley was brimming with three bottles of wine, a box of light white wine, laundry soap, a lighter for outdoor insect repellent candles, and groceries. All of this would have been twice as much in the US.

They were exhausted after the photoshoot and from dining on pellets.

Our dental bill, including cleanings and more x-rays, totaled ZAR $1265, US $85,21. The two appointments with Dr. Theo, including an ECG/EKG and two exams, totaled ZAR 1471.40, US $99.11. Amazing! Not only do we love South Africa for its wildlife and people, but prices on most services and products are considerably lower than in many counties in which we’ve lived over the years, including the US.

At the moment, we’re cooking a pork roast on the braai with dinner planned for about 5:00 pm. We’ve found that eating dinner earlier is more beneficial to our health when the entire meal is fully digested before bed, preventing any potential intestinal distress or acid reflux before lying down. We rarely eat anything after dinner.

Yesterday was a scorcher when the humidity, combined with the temperature, was unbearable. Today, it’s much more comfortable, and we’re having no problem enjoying the outdoors. If we can keep the mosquitoes at bay, I imagine we’ll be on the veranda well into the evening.

That’s it for today, folks. I’m about to go indoors to work on a few side dishes for dinner. All is well. We’re content.

We hope you are content, too.

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

We couldn’t have been more thrilled with our private tour guide, Dr. Anand Tiwari, who had a doctor’s degree in Hindu idols. He explained he’d done a tour the previous day with guests on the Maharajas Express! What a coincidence and an honor for us! He can be reached here for tours. For the year-ago post, please click here.

A birthday celebration to remember…

Dawn, Leon, and Lyn set up a unique birthday table at Jabula for my birthday, including decorations and gifts. They are so thoughtful!

After a relatively quiet day, partially spent indoors to escape the mosquitoes, who hover over me, we lathered up with repellent from head to toe to venture out to an evening of festivities celebrating my birthday. It couldn’t have been more fun. As shown in the photo below, we started at Louise and Danie’s fabulous custom-made bar in their home for drinks and a delightful setup.

Louise had set up the bar with delicious starters appropriate for our way of eating, decorated with gifts, candlelight, flowers, and more.

Weeks ago, they presented me with an early birthday gift, as soon as the alcohol ban ended, with 11 bottles (all that was available in the liquor store at the time) my favorite light red wine, Four Cousins Skinny Red with only 8.5% alcohol. “The alcohol content of red wine usually falls between 12% and 15%, with an average of 13.5% ABV.”

The table was set beautifully for my birthday, but when the power went out, we had to move to the veranda off of the indoor part of the restaurant. Shortly later, Leon restored the power, and we stayed put on the veranda.

This lower alcohol content is perfect for me and was my favorite when we were here in 2018/2019. I was shocked by their generous gift, and we offered to pay them for it, but they flatly refused. It was for my birthday, they insisted! I have savored the wine very frugally and was relieved to find it available at the grocery store and the liquor store, now that supplies have been replenished since the ban ended. But, I still have many unopened bottles left. Thank you, Louise and Danie, for this generous gift!

Our dear friends Louise and Danie have a magical way of making every get-together special.

With the possibility of another alcohol ban in the future, tomorrow, when we head to Komatipoorrt to the dentist and shop, we’ll purchase a few more bottles for me, brandy for Tom, and a few other wines for visiting guests. Prices on locally grown wines are as much as 70% – 80% lower cost in South Africa than the same wines would be in the USA. It’s no wonder South Africans enjoy their wine, some of the best in the world.

Our first duiker visitor stopped by on my birthday. They are so tiny and delicate.

We’d made a reservation for Jabula at 6:00 pm but, the time at their bar flew by so quickly. It was well past 6:00 when we realized it was time to go. I sent Lyn a text message to say we were on our way. We each drove our vehicles to the restaurant for social distancing purposes and were seated appropriately at the table.

He couldn’t have been more adorable. “The common name “duiker” comes from the Afrikaans word duck, or Dutch duiken – both mean “to dive,” which refers to the practice of the animals to frequently dive into vegetation for cover. … The Ruwenzori duiker is generally considered to be a subspecies of the black-fronted duiker (C. nigrifrons).”

Contrary to our former visits to Jabula, we avoided the indoor bar area. We felt safe there with reasonable precautions taken by Dawn, Leon, Lyn, and the other staff. Having nibbled on the delicious starters at Louise and Danie’s home, I had little appetite. I ended up ordering the peri-peri chicken livers, a favorite dish of mine that fits into my way of eating.

A young male kudu sheltered in the shade to cool off in the heat.

On the other hand, Tom ordered his favorite barbecue baby back ribs, chips (fries), and a Greek salad (which he never ate). I gave him my bread that came along with the chicken livers, which he generously slathered with butter. He certainly deserved the treat with his health good and weight at the lowest in over seven years. Danie also had chicken livers, and since they eat the same as we do, he also gave Tom his bread.

A young female kudu did the same.

Not only did we thoroughly enjoy the lively conversation at our table, but people stopped by to say hello, including Dawn and Leon, who celebrated along with us. It couldn’t have been a more delightful evening. By 9:00 pm, we made our way down the dark stairway to the parking lot to head back to our place, appreciating the loud sounds of frogs croaking in the pond along the way.

Two zebras, playing on the road on our way to Jabula.

Adding to the evening’s festivities, six giraffes were blocking the road on our way back. Back at our house, we hunkered down for the remainder of the evening while I spent no less than two hours thanking friends and family for the birthday wishes. It meant so much to hear from our readers, family members, old and new friends, and Facebook friends. I am truly blessed. If I missed saying thank you, I apologize. I tried to contact every sender with a heartfelt thank you.

Here are five giraffes we spotted on the way to my birthday celebration. When we left Jabula hours later, six giraffes were blocking the road in the dark,  but with no street lights and not wanting to scare them with the flash, we didn’t take a photo. Thank you, giraffes, for adding to my birthday activities.

May your day be filled with comfort and appreciation for times to come in the future.

Photo from one year ago today, February 21, 2020:

This elderly weaver spent long days at the King of Brocade Textile Company in Varanasi, India, working at these looms. For more photos, please click here.

Today is the fourth of my past nine travel birthdays to be spent in Marloth Park…It’s truly a gift to be here…

We wrote in the caption of this photo, on my 70th birthday in 2018, at my party at Jabula with friends: “We’ll always remember this birthday as a special event for both of us; celebrating life, health, our experiences, and the fine friends we’ve made along the way.” For more from that date, please click here.

Today’s photos are from this post on February 21, 2018, the day after my birthday.

This morning, it dawned on us that today is the fourth of nine birthdays since we began traveling that we’ve spent in Marloth Park. We were here on this date in 2014, 2018, 2019, and now 2021. Of course, 2019 wasn’t so pleasant when I spent it in ICU in Nelspruit after open-heart surgery. But I leave that memory behind and think of the joy of the other three birthdays, among friends, my dear husband Tom, and the beautiful wildlife surrounding us.

Dawn had decorated the table beautifully for the party. Thanks, Dawn! By the time we were all seated, it was dark, cozy, and romantic.

In 2018, Tom decided we’d return to Marloth Park for my 70th birthday as a surprise to me. I couldn’t have been more excited! Tonight will be no different than the fun we had on three of those birthdays, spending this evening with Louise and Danie at Jabula Restaurant at a socially distanced outdoor table.

Our friends filled a big table on that date at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant. At the same time, we drank wine and cocktails, dined on fabulous food, and enjoyed the companionship of everyone at the table, along with many others who stopped by. Dawn and Leon, dear friends and owners of Jabula, made it very special as well.

Linda, Mick, and Louise, with Ken and Don standing. Linda and Ken will be here in Marloth Park next Friday, and others will follow in the months to come!

But, with Covid-19, every celebration must be different. There will be no large groups, no hugging, and no proximity to others. We’ll especially load up on repellent when, after weeks of rain, the mozzies are on a rampage with risks of malaria higher than ever.

At the moment, we’re outdoors on the veranda waiting for visitors to come to say hello. So far, only Ms. Dove and Helmeted Guinea-fowls and the Chicks have stopped by. But the day is young, and a lot more could happen between now and 4:45 pm when we head to Louise and Danie‘s for sundowners before we all head out to dinner. No doubt, it will be a good day.

Wow! We were thrilled with the “cake of the world!”  Local baker Janine even made the two representations of Tom and me totally by hand.

I’d thought about sharing past birthday posts but chose only to highlight the “big one,” my 70th, in 2018, although the others were special and memorable. In the realm of things, especially during these difficult times of Covid-19, and considering our current ages, birthdays aren’t as important as they once may have been.

However, few of us mind the love and attention we receive on our special day, once a year. That’s not to say that other days aren’t unique. At this stage in life, every day is truly a gift.

After the dinner plates were cleared, the cake was delivered to the table. Thanks, Kathy, for bringing the candles!

It’s hard for me to grasp how old I am. For some reason can’t wrap my brain around it. Gosh, it was only yesterday that Tom and I met when I was 43 years old, and he was 38. This June we’ll celebrate 30 years together. The time has flown.

Although, like everyone’s life, at times there were challenges, Together, we have stuck like glue, appreciating and embracing our loving and close union, which certainly was tested in those 1tenmonths in the hotel room in Mumbai, India. We stayed strong and determined together, and surprisingly, we came out on the other side unscathed. If anything, we are closer than ever. That, dear readers, is the best gift of all.

Kathy, me, Tom, Lynne and Danie at the end of the table.

No, there won’t be a cake or candles to blow out (a gross thought in times of Covid, anyway), no gifts to open (i don’t need or want a thing, no cards in the mail (although I’ve received some very thoughtful online cards), Before the day’s end, I’ll have more birthday wishes from family and friends, greetings from many Facebook friends and all the love and attention a person can imagine.

I am truly blessed and grateful. Thank you for all the warm wishes. Thank you for sharing this journey with us!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, February 20, 2020:

The celebration on the Ganges River at night in Khajuraho. The nine umbrellas represent the nine planets. Hindus value every aspect of the planet and the universe. For more, please click here.

Back to my “old” self…Antibiotic agony abated…What does the future hold for us?…

Mom and Baby Helmeted Guinea-fowl eating seeds.

Gosh, it feels good to be back to my old self once again. On Monday morning, we’ll return to Komatipoort to see Dr. Luzaan for another x-ray to determine if the tooth abscess infection is gone. If not, on to Plan B, a trip to see the oral surgeon with his trusty laser in Malelane, a 40-minute drive due to road construction. We’ll report back once we know more.

Tomorrow will be my 73rd birthday. We’re celebrating in the evening at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant (for the first time since our arrival) with Louise and Danie, outdoors, on their upper veranda. The mozzies will be plentiful, but the humans, not so much, so we’ll all feel safe dining outdoors. There is no place we’d rather be to celebrate another blessed year of life, let alone celebrating with Louise and Danie, one of the most fun couples we’ve ever known.

The pillows on my side of the bed have been replaced with new ones, and the dust mite rash is gradually fading away. The itching has stopped, and all that itches now are the few mosquito bites I’ve somehow managed to get even when slathered in DEET repellent.

Tiny’s best begging pose for more pellets.

The recent rain has caused a proliferation of mosquitoes. Tom, who rarely is bitten, covered his bare skin in strong spray repellent last night during sundowners when they were chomping on his ankles. It’s always worse around dusk and after dark. We know it’s time to load up on repellent once we hear Frank making his nightly noise at sunset. As an extra precaution, I add more repellent frequently throughout the day and evening.

Once summer ends and it cools down, there will be considerably fewer mosquitos and insects. That will be a welcome relief. The cool, pleasant winters in Marloth Park are truly a delight. We love bundling up at night to sit on the veranda and wait for the visitors to come. Besides, knowing the cool weather is also a relief to the wildlife, adding only our joy.

As we wind down our 90-day visas, ending April 12, 2021, we are well aware we have to high-tail out of here in 52 days. However, with the car rental shops closed on the weekends at the Nelspruit airport, we’ll have to leave on  Friday, April 9, to return anytime after April 12, when the car rental facilities will be open again. That means we only have 49 days until we have to leave.

Tiny’s friend was lounging after a pellet fest.

This means we need to have a plan in place when we have about 30 days remaining. It’s possible President Cyril Ramaphosa may institute another visa extension due to Covid-19 for all foreign nationals, comparable to the one in place until March 31st. That last extension doesn’t help us at all. But, he may institute another such extension in the next few weeks. So we’ll wait and see what transpires.

In the worst case, we can always catch a flight out of here to another nearby country, although none physically touches South Africa, as per the requirements. We can always quickly fly to Zambia and return a few days later, which we’d done a few times in past visits. Sure, it would be nice to visit a country we’ve never been to in the past, but in light of Covid-19, the less traveling we can do, the better. It would feel safer if we could get the vaccine by then, but that is highly unlikely.

No doubt, this visa thing is often on our minds. It’s hard to relax when this is hanging over our heads. But, we can’t let this concern weigh heavily upon us, preventing us from the joys of being here. We’ll continue to watch the news for any updates that could easily impact us. We remain hopeful.

Mom, Dad, and chicks.

Today, Friday, we’re reveling in better weather. We just had a late brunch of scrambled eggs with cheese and sausage. Later in the evening, we’ll be cooking juicy t-bone steaks on the braai while simply enjoying our wildlife friends when they stop by for a visit.

Although the roads have improved from recent grading, it’s still overly bumpy out there. But, most likely, later in the day, after uploading this post, we’ll head out for a drive and see “who” we can find. Boredom is never an issue in the bush. There is always an adventure waiting to happen.

Oops! Time to toss some pellets! One-Wart and Fred and Ethel just showed up.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, February 19, 2020:

Sunrise over the Ganges River. For more photos, please click here.