Busy day with much to do…

Two heads are better than one when assessing the pellet situation.

It was a good thing it wasn’t hot last night. Sunday night, the power was out for almost 12 hours, and we couldn’t use the air-con in the bedroom. On Saturday, in the middle of the night, I awoke Tom from a deep sleep and asked him why he was clapping. He wasn’t clapping. The air-con was making a clapping sound every 10 to 20 minutes. What was that about? We shut it off, knowing the sound would keep waking us up.

We didn’t want to disturb Louise over the weekend, so we tried it again last night, Monday, to discover the clapping continued. With a cool night, we used the fan instead, and that worked out fine. Today, Louise set up an afternoon appointment with Chris, the air-con guy, to come out this afternoon. It certainly is better to get air-con repairs handled on cool days like today. Next week it will be hot again when it is tough to get an appointment for a repair person to come out.

Soon, we’ll be heading to Komatipoort to grocery shop and stop at the pharmacy for a few items. On our way, we’ll stop at the home of the woman from whom we’re renting the treadmill. The following payment for the upcoming three months is due now. I am so grateful I’ve had the treadmill to keep me in shape during these many lazy days in the bush.

Narrow and The Imposter, resting in the garden.

Late in the afternoon, our friend and local author, Alan, and his girlfriend Fiona come for sundowners. When we return from the market, I’ll get to work to make a few appetizers to serve during their visit. I’ll make enough items, some of which I can eat, and thus, we won’t be making dinner tonight.

Usually, happy hour continues until 8:00 pm, 2000 hours, or later, or when the mosquitoes and other insects are at their worst. It varies every evening, so we’ll play it by ear and wrap up the evening when nature dictates. In any case, we’re sure it will be another lovely evening with friends.

Socializing in Marloth Park has been kept to a minimum with Covid-19. Many are afraid to get together, even in small groups, especially after a few deaths from the dreaded virus here in the park. We only socialize with others whom we know are being careful like us.

Mr. Bushbuck, one of many bushbucks that stop by each day.

Speaking of Covid-19, this morning, after applying for the vaccine four times, Louise finally got the SMS message stating my application was finally accepted. Now, we are waiting for a date and time for both of us. We hope this all works out with the timing before leaving South Africa on June 30th for our visa stamps.

Here again, we’ll play it by ear. Our ultimate hope is that President Cyril Ramaphosa will extend visitor visas for yet another 90 days. That would be wonderful! If not, we’ll make a plan, last minute, to fly out for a few days and then return.

I’ve already started making the appetizers for this evening. Right now, as I prepare this post, we have to leave to bring the money for the treadmill to the owner, and then we’re off to Komatipoort. When we return, I’ll finish this post.

Maturing male kudu, admiring himself in the glass of the bedroom windows.

We stopped at the home of the lovely woman who loaned us the treadmill, and we hit it off so well, we hope to socialize soon. We paid her the ZAR 1800, US $126, for the next 90 days.  It’s been so helpful to me to have this piece of exercise equipment easily at my disposal.

We just returned from Komati after grocery shopping, a visit to the pharmacy and the liquor store. We have everything we’ll need for the next few weeks. Everything has been put away. A few plates of the treats for tonight have been prepped. Soon, we’ll set up the table. The house is clean and tidy after Vusi did another fantastic job this morning.

Now, Frank and The Misses are drinking water from the little container we set down for them with fresh water a few times each day. I’d forgotten to put the container down on the floor when we returned, and he made his funny noise at me to let me know he and The Misses wanted to drink.  The Imposter is here by himself, without his buddy, Narrow. Mom and Babies just left the garden after eating pellets.

These two young kudus were very friendly.

Last night, just before going to sleep, I came out of the bedroom to fill a glass of water for my bedside table. I happened to turn on the outside light to take a peek to see if anyone was there. And there she was, Bossy (kudu) and one of her offspring, a handsome young male. Of course, they were staring at me through the glass door, wondering if pellets were served so late at night.

Sadly, I declined to offer pellets since the alarm had already been set, and I didn’t want them coming around at night in the dark with expectations. I kept an eye out for them, and a short time later, they left. This morning they were back, and we tossed plenty of pellets their way. We often wonder where and when they hunker down at night and how long they sleep.

Most wild animals sleep in short bursts and for very few hours a day, from what we’ve read. It’s ingrained in their DNA to keep out a watchful eye for predators. Here is Marloth Park. Few predators exist for most of the wildlife. But, still, they remain alert and diligent to protect themselves and their young.

At the far end of our garden, Lionspruit begins where lions Dezi and Fluffy live.  There are hundreds of other animals in Lionspruit, many possible meals for these two lions. It’s an entirely different situation in Kruger National Park than here in peaceful and less-threatening Marloth Park.

Have a fantastic day!

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

Hand-feeding Kookaburras in the garden, re-posted one year ago from Australia in 2017. They are carnivores, so I fed them raw, grass-fed ground beef. For more photos, please click here.

Making corrections…Staying on track…Self discipline…

Frank and The Misses stop by several times a day, making a mess of the seed container. They don’t like sunflower seeds, so they pick through the container to toss them aside.

Self-discipline is a peculiar thing. It’s described as follows:

/ˈˌself ˈdisiplin/

Tom’s vaccine registration went through…Mine did not…Good food, striving for good health…

Such cute little creatures who manage to kill venomous snakes.

After using Louise‘s phone number yesterday to re-register Tom and me for the Covid-19 vaccine in South Africa, Louise received a confirmation for Tom’s registration. However, she did not receive one for me. When 24 hours soon pass, once again, I will re-register.

We won’t be getting the vaccine on the same date and time, or even the exact locations, which I expect has been the case for couples worldwide. We anticipate the jabs will transpire in Komatipoort or Malalane, the closest two cities to Marloth Park. We’ll see how and when this rolls out.

Mongoose clamoring for the raw scrambled eggs in the pan.

I’ve communicated with friends Linda and Ken in Johannesburg, who also signed up the day after we did. They have already re-registered once and may have to do so again when neither has received the confirmation text to their South Africa phone numbers. Go figure.

Today is another glorious day, comfortable without clouds or humidity. When I was up and dressed, I began cooking a few things: a large egg and cheese sausage casserole, an excellent staple for us when hunger hits, and the other part of my dinner tonight, liver.

Mongoose lined up eating from the pan of eggs.

Tom will have pork chops on the braai, which I am not a big fan of, but he enjoys. Of course, he would never consider trying liver when the smell alone makes him cringe. It’s not unusual for us to eat different protein sources at any given meal. He loves having white rice with each dinner, but rice doesn’t work for me due to the high carb count. Most likely, I’ll have a slice of the egg casserole with the liver, an excellent combination.

I don’t miss eating vegetables at all when my blood pressure and blood sugar numbers are normal  (without medication) for the first time in 30 years, and my years-long stomach ache is gone. Who knew this would happen? I never expected vegetables to be an issue for me. But, everyone is different, and what has worked for me may not work for others.

After they finish the eggs, they stare at us, wanting more.

It’s odd, but I don’t enjoy cooking as much as I did in years past. The sooner I can get out of the kitchen, the better. In the past, I could spend several hours a day chopping and dicing and preparing entrees and side dishes, Now, with our new way of eating since we arrived in South Africa over three months ago, the most time I have ever spent in the kitchen is no more than 30 minutes, and yet, we’re thoroughly our meals.

At most, we eat two meals a day, but more often only one. Lately, Tom’s been having a slice of the egg casserole in the morning, but I’m rarely hungry until at least 18 to 20 hours since my last meal when I may have something to hold me until dinner.

Warthog males often groom one another, even when they aren’t specifically “friends.”

A few days ago, when Louise headed to Nelspruit to shop, she picked up eight packages of delicious trout salmon for me. They are 200 grams, 7 ounces, and I’ve been capping off my dinner with a 100 gram, 3½ ounce serving with a dollop of cream cheese. It’s almost as good as a dessert.

While in India all those months, we lost our taste for sweets, and no longer do I bake low-carb desserts, bread, or muffins. In each of these cases, the carb count was too high to maintain normal blood pressure and blood sugar levels. If either of us craves something after dinner, a few slices of quality cheese will do the trick.

We call him “Medium Daddy,” not quite a Big Daddy yet.

We both feel better, our weight is easily controlled without effort, and we’re still able to enjoy a glass of wine or cocktail at our leisure. Of course, I only drink small amounts of low sugar/low alcohol red wine, and Tom has his brandy with Sprite Zero.

I am still working out on the rented treadmill but have now changed my routine to HIIT (high-intensity interval training) every three days instead of just fast walking on the treadmill. I hesitated to do my old familiar HIIT workout since I had heart surgery over two years ago.

This hornbill stopped by for some seeds but didn’t stay long.

I don’t experience feeling light-headed, out of breath, or any pain or discomfort during or after the workout. But my fitness level is such that I feel comfortable working out this way again. I continue to monitor my heart rate in the process, using the following as a guide for my maximum heart rate. My resting heart rate is 58, blood pressure is usually around 110/68, without medication.

As for today, we’re engaged with all of our visitors. We just gave a pan of raw scrambled eggs to about 40 mongooses, endless pellets to visiting warthogs, kudus, bushbucks, and of course, fresh water in a bit of container and seeds for Frank and The Misses who stop by several times a day. Life in the bush is excellent!

Photo from one year ago today, April 18, 2020:

Closeup of a hippo’s face. Charming. Be well. For more photos from the year-ago post, please click here.

Repeating the vaccine registration process…Stats on the majestic maturing male kudu…

He stood there for quite a while, but we stayed inside the house until he backed off.

When we didn’t receive a confirmation text expected within 24 hours of both of us registering for South Africa’s Covid-19 vaccine, I searched online for possible reasons. When the site went live yesterday, we were two of the first 126,000 that registered. I found a mention that we may need to re-register again today due to traffic on the site.

If you didn’t see yesterday’s post, here is the link to register for the Covid-19 vaccine in South Africa.

Also, when I entered our US phone number with a “1” in front of the area code, I needed to use +1, but there weren’t enough spaces in the field to enter the +1, which is the US country code. Today, as soon as I’ve uploaded this post, I will re-register both of us, using Louise’s South Africa phone number for her to receive the texts to notify us that our application has been received and where and when to go for the vaccine sometime in May or later.

I don’t like inconveniencing her like this, but she is always willing to help in any way she can. We are assuming the South African vaccine portal didn’t accept our US phone number. We will see how that goes.

These male kudus, when fully grown, may weigh 190 kg to 270 kg, 419 pounds to 595 pounds.

It’s a busy Saturday morning in the bush. There must not be as many holidaymakers here this weekend. This morning, we’ve had a steady stream of visitors, including the first “Big Daddy” kudu who visited our garden since we arrived in January.

His horns weren’t as massive as a more mature Big Daddy, but in time they will be. His massive muscular body was a treat to behold.

From this site:

“The kudu’s horns do not begin to grow until the bull reaches 6–12 months, twisting once at around two years of age and not getting the full two-and-a-half twists until the age of six.
Not quite full-grown with horns yet to grow, this Big Daddy stopped by early this morning.

Greater Kudu facts

  1. Kudu are highly alert and notoriously hard to approach. When they detect danger – often using their large, radar-like ears – they give a hoarse alarm bark, then flee with a distinctive, rocking-horse running motion, the male laying back his horns to avoid overhead obstructions.
  2. The common name kudu is derived from the indigenous Khoikhoi language of Southern Africa. The scientific name is Greek: Tragos denotes a he-goat and elaphos a deer; Strephis means ‘twisting,’ and Keras means ‘horn.’
  3. The horns of a mature bull kudu have two and a half twists and, if straightened, would reach an average length of 120cm. However, they may occasionally have three full twists, and the record length is a whopping 187.64cm. The horns do not begin to grow until the bull reaches 6–12 months, twisting once at around two years of age and not getting the full two-and-a-half twists until six. They have long served different traditional communities as both embellishment and musical instruments, including the shofar, a Jewish ritual horn blown at Rosh Hashanah.
  4. Male kudus are rarely physically aggressive but may spar during the courtship season, shoving one another with their horns. Occasionally, during these contests, their horns become interlocked and, if unable to free themselves, both males may die.
  5. The traditional sport of Kudu dung-spitting (Bokdrol Spoeg in Afrikaans) is practiced in the South African Afrikaner community. The winner is the contestant who can spit one of the antelope’s small, hard dung pellets the furthest – with the distance measured to where it comes to rest. An annual world championship was launched in 1994, with contests held at community events, game festivals, and tourism shows. The world record stands at 15.56m, set in 2006 by Shaun van Rensburg Addo.

Greater Kudu Conservation Status

According to the African Wildlife Foundation, with only 118,000 kudus remaining in the wild, kudus have a ‘near threatened conservation status.’ Hunters shoot them for their hides and meat, and their horns are a much-wanted collector’s item. Local people use their horns in rituals, store honey, or make instruments out of them. Habitat loss is another threat to the kudu population. Awareness and responsible travel are essential to preserving the kudu population.”

Based on today’s visiting kudu, we’re surmising he is approximately four years old. It was quite a treat to see him early this morning. I was still in bed when Tom quietly came to get me to see the kudu and take a few photos. I was awake, reading news on my phone, and couldn’t bolt out of bed fast enough.

We went indoors when he began to approach us on the veranda.

As it turned out, this particular male was somewhat bold, coming up onto the veranda without hesitancy in search of pellets. Tom and I stayed inside, watching him through the screen door. Unintentionally (or not), kudus have been known to injure humans who get too close, some fatally. We weren’t about to take such a risk.

Once he backed off, Tom tossed out some pellets for him into the garden, which he was content to eat with enthusiasm. Once he was done, he wandered away toward the driveway. There was no way, with those big horns, he could make his way out through the dense bush, the reason we haven’t seen any Big Daddies in our garden during the past three months. However, we have seen fully grown males driving through Marloth Park or visiting friends with more miniature dense bush surrounding their property.

Today is another sunny, cool day with low humidity. It feels wonderful with the gentle breeze wafting through the bush, the sight and the sound of the leaves falling to the ground, and our ability to see further into the bush. But, with winter (upcoming on June 21st) on the horizon, this is a tough time for the wildlife. No doubt, we’ll do our part to feed the wildlife as much as we can afford.
We hope all of our readers have a fantastic weekend.
Photo from one year ago today, April 17, 2020:
Spotting these yellow-tipped stamen on these Anthuriums in Kauai was a first for us. For more photos, please click here.

Today, we signed up for Covid-19 vaccine…South Africa registration found here…

Narrow and The Imposter lying close together, appearing to be a two-headed warthog, one head at each end.

Appointments for the Covid-19 vaccine may begin booking in South Africa in mid-May. There is an option within the application process to enter a passport number as opposed to a South Africa ID number indicating that foreign nationals over age 60 will qualify for this second rollout after health care workers and emergency services workers have been vaccinated.

If you are currently in South Africa, including foreign nationals over 60 years old, you may register at this link. You will be notified by text message to confirm your registration within 24 hours of applying and then be informed where and when you may go for the vaccine, hopefully sometime next month.

Currently, we have two passports each, one expiring at the end of August and another expiring in 2024. To be safe and to ensure our vaccination certificates have the correct passport numbers we used the numbers of the latter of the two.

Siegfried and Roy drinking from the birdbath.

With a degree of uncertainty of sufficient doses available in South Africa, the uncertainly of the efficacy and various side effects, we hesitated, but for only a moment. If we want to continue traveling the world, we must get the vaccine. Even, if for some reason, we decided to stop traveling, we’d still need the vaccine if we ever wanted to cruise again or feel safe in the USA. The pandemic is not going away anytime soon.

There has been a lot of controversy as to if and when South Africa will have sufficient doses for the vaccine and according to news reports (could be fake news), it’s still up in the air. But, from what we hear, they are almost done with health care workers. There are 50 million people in South Africa.

Some may say that our being vaccinated while in South Africa is taking away an opportunity for South African citizens. But, wherever we’d be in the world, we’d be using up two doses. I suppose wherever one was located at the time of receiving the vaccine could elicit a case for objection by some.

Mongoose hovering by the hose for the pool

That same “hater” we mentioned in yesterday’s post here, berated us at the prospect of us returning to the US to get vaccinated since we’ve been gone so long, saying we aren’t entitled. Every human on the planet is entitled to receive the vaccine not only for their own benefit but hopefully the benefit of loved ones and others, with whom they may be in contact.

If you are in South Africa and choose to register for the vaccine, please keep in mind that it may take some time for the drop-down filters to load. I waited for 10 minutes to be able to select this municipality. I left it sitting while I did a few other tasks and when I returned to my computer the selections were available.

It’s best to plan that it will take about 20 minutes to complete the form for each individual, only due to the slow response time when attempting to enter the simple information into the drop-down menus. It’s one of those scenarios when patience prevails which is often the case when filling out certain online forms.

Mongoose lounging in the garden waiting for egg treats from Tom.

Today is cooler and cloudier than yesterday and a bit breezy. Sitting outdoors on the veranda feels especially comfortable. The visitors are stopping by on a consistent basis, especially large numbers of bushbucks. As it’s turned out, due to lack of recent rain, the vegetation for the wildlife is becoming sparse and they are hungry.

We currently have four 40 kg bags (88 pounds each) of pellets right now and don’t hesitate to offer pellets freely which we’ll happily do during the lean times in the upcoming winter. Before our eyes, the bush is rapidly losing leaves and already we can see well into the bush which was obstructed by lush vegetation only a few short weeks ago.

Mongoose stretching to reach the water in the birdbath. Tom refilled it after this mongoose struggled to reach the water.

We’ll be posting today’s story on Facebook today, especially on Marloth Park pages for those who may not be aware of the availability of registration for the vaccine. There are many residents over 60 residing in Marloth Park.

Have a pleasant day. Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 16, 2020:

The setting sun between the palm trees in Kauai in 2015. For more photos from this post six years ago today, please click here. For the year-ago post, please click here.

Gentle musing on a quiet day…I’m often wrong…

This wildebeest looked angry and ready to charge. But, generally, they aren’t aggressive to humans who keep their distance.

At times, my thoughts run wild as to the topic we’ll cover in our post on any particular day. Let’s face it, after over 3100 new posts. The subjects may be thin and repetitive. I don’t deny this. How we manage to hold the attention of our worldwide readers often baffles us, a topic Tom and I often discuss based on the sheer wonder of it all.

Although I don’t spend more than a few minutes each morning contemplating the day’s topic, at times, I’m left staring into space, wondering what’s on the agenda today. But, this dilemma is short-lived. I press my fingers onto the keyboard and let them, as “they” said, “do the talking.”

The wildebeest was curious about us stopping by.

No doubt, the redundancy is glaring at times. Even I recall a topic I may have written about 2000 posts ago. Somehow they are all decorated in my mind, popping into the forefront, the minutes I start to type. Oddly, today’s very topic didn’t precipitate or surface any recall of a former post. But I could be wrong. I’m often wrong.

Being wrong is the “nature of the beast.” It’s impossible to avoid errors, misuse of the English language, for which I often zealously assume I have a reasonable mastery. That may be wrong also.

Oh, my. Certainly, I’m known to use the same adjectives, pronouns, prepositions, and so forth, as described here ad nauseam. It would help if you got sick of me from time to time. Even the few “haters” who read our posts, one of which refers to us as a “train wreck,” continue to read for whatever perverse satisfaction she may glean from coming back over and over again.

A group of wildebeest is called a “confusion.” Go figure.

Tom, a railroad man for 42½ years, knows what a train wreck is, and it is not us. But, perception is everything. I ask the universe if you hate something and have the option to avoid it without consequence, then, by all means, avoid it without effect. Does she think that her hateful dissertations in an email or “comments” are going to change how we do this?

Yesterday, I received a thoughtful message from a reader reminding me that I misuse the word “alas.” She included the definitions from a reliable online dictionary source, and I thoroughly agreed with her. Her message was kind and considerate. I took no offense. As we advance, I will be more mindful of my use of the word “alas,” thanks to her well-written and well-intentioned interjection in a private email.

Wildebeest crossing the road.

Would I continually appreciate comments and observations regarding words I may use incorrectly or in a slang manner? Probably not. After all, this is not an essay contest. This is a log of our daily lives, both perfect and imperfect and mostly somewhere in between. I dare anyone to write daily, over 3000 times, over eight years and not make verbiage, punctuation, and spelling errors.

At one time in my life, I was a perfectionist. I gave that up when we began this journey, knowing full well that being perfect in this year’s long world journey would not serve me well, only resulting in frustration and stress. Now, I wear the same shirt for two days, misspell words in posts and texts, and haphazardly draw on a disappearing eyebrow, a byproduct of old age,

We spotted these giraffes at quite a distance.

Over the years, I’ve learned that no one will say they were glad to be a perfectionist on one’s deathbed. They will espouse love, life, adventures, and contentment, of which we’ll have plenty.

Be happy. Be well. Thanks for being here.

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

Beach view in Kapaa, Kauai six years ago today at this link. For the year-ago post, please click here.

Hit and run…Wildlife killed on the road…Where’s Tiny?…Back to corrections again…

Benny, Henny, Lenny, and Penny were in the garden. These two males of the foursome decided to snuggle. Too cute.

When we read that seven animals were killed on local paved Olifant Road during the long Easter weekend and we hadn’t seen Tiny in days, I was worried. What if he was one of the victims of hit and ran on the busy long weekend. Over the past several days, we watched for him day and night.

Usually, he’d show up in the garden between 4:00 pm, 1600 hours, and 4:30 pm, 1630 hours, while we were seated at the big table on the veranda. But, he never arrived. Day after day passed, and no Tiny. I’ve become so attached to him and his former daily visits, I’d be lost without him.

Alas, this morning while I was showering and dressing for the day, Tom came in to inform me that Tiny was in the garden, looking for pellets, and perhaps, me? Whew! I couldn’t have been more thrilled to see him, his giant warts, his massive tusks, and his somewhat shy demeanor.

Benny, Henny, Lennie, with Penny in the background.

But, it’s sad to know that seven of the precious animals in Marloth Park are no more. Either they died when hit by careless drivers speeding on the road, or they were injured to a point where the rangers had no choice but to euthanize them. This is sad for all of us in Marloth Park.

We’re not the only people in Marloth Park who build relationships with the wildlife from a safe distance. When we get together, we frequently discuss our favorites using the different names we’ve created for them. It’s funny to think that other residents have different names for the same wildlife we’ve named to our liking and preference.

Who knows? Tiny may be called “Jumbo” by another long-term visitor or homeowner. What names do others have for warthogs Narrow and The Imposter or their resident francolins instead of our Frank and The Misses? It makes us laugh out loud.

When I accidentally dropped the container of pellets on the veranda floor, it took no time at all for Little to come up to partake.

On another note, a few days ago, I mentioned that I hadn’t done any corrections on past posts since we arrived in Marloth Park three months ago. This stuck in my mind, prompting me to start again but with a less lofty goal of only correcting ten posts a day instead of 20 as I’d done while we were in the hotel room in India for ten months. I had more time during that long haul than I do now.

This morning before starting today’s new post, I managed to complete two of the 10. Every few hours, I’ll do two more until the ten are completed. At this rate, I will be done in about 190 days. That’s a long time from now, but I think I can manage this. If I stick to this routine, I should be done by the end of the year, considering travel days, busy days when we visit Kruger National Park, and days I can’t force myself to do it. We’ll see how it goes.

IB, aka Itchy Butt, returned for another itching session in the cement pond. Unfortunately, the water had evaporated, and he didn’t get the expected result. Poor IB!

Today will be a low-key day, which we thoroughly enjoy when the wildlife comes to call. We just served up some raw scrambled eggs for about 50 mongooses (I’ve recently discovered the plural of mongoose is mongoose) who’d stopped by. We always love seeing them and feeding them when it’s their presence that can keep the snakes at bay.

Now, I’m off to do my HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout on the treadmill and then head to the kitchen to prep for tonight’s dinner. Life is simple. Life is good. We like it this way.

IB looks worried as he sits there, contemplating his next move.

Have a wonderful day. Stay safe and be well.

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

A gorgeous sunset in Kauai, Hawaii, from the veranda of our condo in Princeville. For more photos from that date, six years ago, please click here. For the year-ago post, please click here.

Frustrating road trip…Rental car pickup, not so much to our liking…

Two oxpeckers on the back of a female kudu are ready to start pecking at her coat for insects or injuries.

It’s a long and trying drive to the Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport, several kilometers outside the city. There’s considerable traffic on the N4 Highway with frequent stops for road and now, bridge construction. Trucks often line the two-lane highway slowing the flow of traffic.

A fantastic aspect of driving on South Africa’s highways is that drivers, including truck drivers, move to the far left to allow drivers behind them to pass. We’d never seen this intelligent driving behavior anywhere else in the world. Also, fairly often, there are passing lanes marked on the road, adding to traffic flow.

Another kudu with three oxpeckers on her back and neck. They often manage to photobomb our shots. See the warthog checking out the action for the photo.

Tom is a great driver, and although I usually feel at ease as a passenger, this particular highway, amid these benefits, still can be a nail-biter at times. It took no less than 90 minutes each way plus another hour at the airport, returning one car with Budget and collecting another car with Thrifty. That was our big mistake. We shouldn’t have booked with Thrifty had we known what we’d encounter.

Upon arrival at the Thrifty counter, we were informed that we must return the car every 30 days to have it inspected, although our confirmed contract was 79 days. Of course, we didn’t know this when we booked the car. However, with the pricing 33% less than Budget (prices change daily), it was irresistible to use them. Next time, we’ll call and ask about their policy, which we’ve never had to do in the past eight-plus years.

On her neck.

Could Covid-19 have been responsible for them changing their policies? Who knows?  So much has changed regarding travel in the past 14 months since this pandemic nightmare began. It has become necessary to check and recheck all terms and conditions regarding any aspect of the journey.

We plan to research to see if there’s an alternative and if we can cancel that contract without a penalty and return to Budget when they post lower pricing from time to time. We’re both frustrated about having to spend no less than four hours every 30 days to return the car for inspection.

Oxpeckers jump around the animal’s body quickly. They seem to like kudus particularly.

As I was writing this post, I stopped for a few minutes to check with rentalcars.com. No refunds are allowed once the car is picked up. We are stuck with this old car with over 40,000 km, smaller, and more challenging to maneuver on the bumpy roads in Marloth Park and Kruger National Park.  Herein lies the reality, “You get what you pay for,” especially when it comes to car rentals.

As it turned out, we didn’t return to the house until almost 3:00 pm, 1500 hours, having left the house at 10:30 am. In essence, this process resulted in nearly a full day away from enjoying precious time in the bush. On the return drive, we decided against the planned shopping in Malalane, after all, and headed straight back to Marloth Park. We’d already shopped in Komati on Monday, and we’d be fine until next week when we return.

It was great to see an oxpecker partaking in our birdbath. Tom makes sure it has fresh water each day.

As world travelers who continue to use a wide array of travel services, we learn something new almost every day, even during the pandemic. No doubt, it’s more work now to plan than ever in the past. At this point, we’ll be waiting until the last minute to see what we’ll need to do to get our visas stamped by June 30, 2021.

The world is still in flux and will be so for years to come. Also, right now, we’re relieved we didn’t go to Minneapolis this week as previously planned. We’d be there now during enhanced rioting, carjacking, and shootings. Many members of Tom’s family live near some of the areas included in this challenging time for the city and its people. We pray for the safety of our family members, friends, and residents of the town and suburbs impacted by this strife.

We’ve seen bushbuck, Torn Ear, three days in a row.

Today, sunny and warm, we’ll stay put outdoors on the veranda, cherishing each visitor that stops by. So far, this morning, we’ve had mongoose, kudus, bushbucks, warthogs, and of course, as always, Frank and The Misses. Undoubtedly, more will come by before the day’s end.

Happy day!

Photos from one year ago today, April 13, 2020:

Jackfruit is known for its health benefits.  See this link for nutritional details. This photo was posted at this link on April 13, 2015. For the year-ago post, please click here.

On the road again…

Female kudu resting in our garden.

Note; Due to the time required to add photos to our post. We’ll be back tomorrow with more.

We’re not “on the move” again, but we are “on the road again” as we make our way to Nelspruit today to return the rental car, pick up another vehicle and do some shopping in the “big” (more significant) city. With Nelspruit’s population of over 110,000, it’s undoubtedly the most large city near us, approximately 75 minutes from Marloth Park.

I still experience a little angst going to Nelspruit since it’s the small town where I had open-heart surgery 26 months ago. Although it is also where the tiny airport is located, we’ve been many times over the past eight years since we began visiting Marloth Park in 2013.

At the moment, as I hurriedly write here (we’re leaving in an hour), Tom is at the car wash at the Marlothi Shopping Center, getting the rental car a thorough cleaning. I am seated at the big table on the veranda with three warthogs in the garden; Fred and Ethel, and surprisingly, Little, not Tiny, who seldom visits with so many other pigs as permanent fixtures here in the garden.

Little never liked the competition of other warthogs around him and can make quite a fuss. On the other hand, Tiny is gentle and relatively tolerant of sharing pellets with the other regulars. We’re often in awe of the unique personality traits and demeanor of the various wildlife that visit us frequently. It’s easy for us to detect who is who when we spend most days observing their behavior.

Not only does each animal have its physical characteristics, but its unique behavior also alerts us to those we see frequently, even when there are ten or more animals in the garden simultaneously. Frank and The Misses, three couples, easily determine which of the trio is eating the seeds. The main Frank is a messy eater, and the seeds fly everywhere when he stops to eat and drink several times a day.

All of the females are shy, and if I stand, they run off for a moment to return once I sit back down. But, the main Frank, who must be the dominant male in this territory of our garden, never moves when I put down the seeds and the little container of water which most of them drink from. Also, he will stand right next to me when the others are shy and prefer to stay back at least a meter from where I’m seated on the veranda.

We thought the Francolins would drink from the birdbath, and yet it has never happened when we’re outdoors. They either drink from the short-sided container I put on the ground with fresh water daily or sip from the outdoor drainage hose from the air conditioner in our bedroom, getting only a few drops a day. The main Frank loves the little cup of water and the other cup of seeds, chirping happily when he drinks and eats.

When the seed or water containers are empty, he makes his loud squawk while standing at the screen door to the veranda to alert us more is needed. This occurs frequently. It’s not unusual for us to see him standing at the screen door when we get up in the morning or at other times when we’re busy indoors.

Yesterday afternoon, while we were in the bedroom for a short rest, my favorite kudu, Bossy, came up to the bedroom window peering inside, wondering why we weren’t outdoors offering pellets. Of course, we jumped up to comply. We laugh so hard over all of these scenarios. Tom says they have us trained. So true.

Well, it’s time for me to wrap this up. We’ll be back tomorrow with more, including details of our little road trip to Nelspruit, and we probably won’t be returning late afternoon, and I am seldom motivated to do a post close to dinner time.

Happy day!

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

This morning, this adorable Easter display was at our regular table at the hotel in Mumbai. A short time later, the restaurant closed. For more photos, please click here.

Wonderful evening with friends…More socializing ramping up soon…

Tom opened the side burner lid of the braai to find this frog residing in there. He moved her to a safer location before using the burner to heat water for coffee when the power was out.

With friends, Rita and Gerhard arriving in Marloth Park in less than a month and friends Don and Kathy arriving respectively in June and July, our social life will certainly be ramping up over the next several months. Covid-19 certainly has taken its toll on social activities since we arrived almost three months ago and we’re looking forward to the change.

As always, we’ve had loads of good times with Louise and Danie and last night was no exception. We so much love spending time with them and never miss an opportunity to do so. Last night was no exception. We all sat outside on the veranda until 10:00 pm entrenched in lively conversation with many stories to share, making it difficult to end the night.

A few hours later we spotted her sitting atop the edge of the extra tank of gas for the braai.

As it turned out we didn’t get to sleep until after midnight and as I often do, I awoke in the middle of the night, wide awake and unable to return to sleep. Finally, after a few hours, I drifted off and slept until 10:15 am, something I never do. By the time I showered and dressed, and tidied up a bit, it felt as if half the day had passed. It was 11:00 am by the time I finally made my coffee.

Now, with two male bushbucks in the garden, while Frank dines on his seeds on the veranda, it’s fairly hot with the sun shining and high humidity. Tom did all the dishes last night and put everything away this morning. I’ve washed and hung two loads of laundry on the indoor clothes rack. With plenty of leftovers, today will be an easy day.

Ms. Bushbuck was wondering if pellets were coming her way. She wasn’t disappointed.

My only task is getting today’s post uploaded. While in India, I spent the better part of each day going through old posts and making much-needed corrections, I haven’t done any more of these since we arrived in South Africa. I must admit that I’m having a hard time getting back to this daunting task when doing so reminds me of sitting in that hotel room for 10 months in India.

At some point, I will get back to it. At this point, I don’t feel like putting any pressure on myself to get back to this. It’s an amazing feeling to feel unencumbered and free until we have to decide again by June 30th, where we’ll go if President Ramaphosa doesn’t extend visas again for another 90 days, which we’re hoping. It all depends on the scope of Covid-19 at that time. During this pandemic, everything can change on a dime.

We were happy to see bushbuck Torn Ear return to the garden.

We’ve decided to wait until the last minute to make a decision. So far, vaccine distribution is extremely poor in South Africa as cases continue to rise. At some point, if we ever want to cruise again, we will have to return to the US for the vaccine since the likelihood of getting it here is remote.

After careful consideration, most likely we’ll return to our state of residency, Nevada first, get the vaccine, and then head to Minnesota to visit family. But, right now, after checking the availability of the vaccine in Nevada, appointments also appear to be impossible to book. We simply have to wait it out.

Two adorable females. The lower jaw of a buckbuck gyrates in a circular motion when chewing pellets.

Today will be a quiet day, which is always easy to enjoy in the bush. The sights and sounds of nature continue to provide us with considerable entertainment and curiosity. Several times each day, we investigate the facts surrounding some type of sighting or another that happens to appear before us. Each day, in its own way, is a new day rich in experience, full of wonder.

Tomorrow morning, after Tom has the rental car washed, we’ll head to Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport to return the car we currently have and pick up the next one. It will be about a four-hour turnaround plus any additional time we may spend stopping to shop in Malelane. We’ll certainly make the most out of the outing, later returning to Marloth Park, happy to be back in our favorite place.

Have a fantastic day filled with wonders.

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

Six years ago today, the drive on the way to the Princeville Botanical Gardens is in itself a breathtaking experience. For more year-ago photos, please click here.