No water, day 2…

Wildebeest Willie, our most regular wildebeest visitor.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 11 warthogs – inc. Fred, and Ethyl, Tiny and Little, Benny, Henny, Lenny, and Penny
  • 6 bushbucks – inc. Chewy and Thick Neck
  • 1 wildebeest – Broken Horn
  • 8 kudus – inc. 1 Medium Daddy, 1 mom, and baby, Bossy and Notches
  • 6 hornbills
  • Frank and The Misses

It’s not surprising to us that we don’t have water. It’s either no electricity issues due to downed power lines, load shedding, or no WiFi when the power is out, or a tower is damaged, and now, no water. Not a trickle. We don’t fuss over this. There’s nothing to be accomplished in doing so.

Warthogs in a scuffle over pellets.

Last night, we put our dirty dishes in the dishwasher after carefully scraping the plates. Then, we brought in a big bucket of pool water to flush the toilet. This morning, I warmed up bottled water from the water machine in the microwave to take a “sponge bath.” Tom made for the big spouted pitcher. We have plenty of bottled drinking water, ice cubes, and ice tea.

This morning, Louise sent the following message:

“[05/31, 08:05] Denis Gofinet: The water tanker will be at Marlothi Shopping at 09:00 this morning. You can fill up your containers. Waiting for an update on the Eskom repair. We will keep you posted. [05/31, 08:06] Denis Gofinet: Message from the Muni: Hectorspruit, the treatment plant, is pumping currently. Marloth Park is still not pumping. I believe Eskom is still busy replacing stolen components. We have also arranged for a water tanker to assist Marloth park with some water until Eskom has completed their work and the Marloth plant is running. Thanks.”

Mom and her two babies.

We do not need to fill up containers from the water tanker, which is certainly not intended for drinking or bathing. The cleanliness of that water could easily be questionable. Many locals have adapted to the local water over the years and won’t get sick from drinking it. For us, that’s not the case. We take no chances.

Based on Louise’s above message, the entire water issue results from the theft of various components Eskom, the electric company, used to run the pumps. This is not unusual in South Africa. Crime is rampant, and this part of the country is no exception. However, corruption is considerably less prevalent in Marloth Park than, let’s say, in Johannesburg, Pretoria,  Cape Town, Durban, or other big cities.

It seems as if we have a lot of warthogs right now. But, as winter approaches, there will be more and more other species coming to the garden.

This little haven in the bush does provide an element of safety compared to many other areas. We are very grateful for this, yet we’re always “on-guard,” utilizing our security system, keeping doors locked day and night, and keeping out a watchful eye.

When we spend time outdoors on the veranda, as we’re doing now as I write this, we bring all of our equipment indoors if we so much as go to the bathroom or to get a glass of ice tea. There have been countless cases of residents leaving their laptops and phones on their veranda table, only to wander indoors for a few minutes, to return and find their equipment is gone.

Two wildebeest, Willie, and Willard snacking on pellets.

Each week, there are burglaries of TVs, digital equipment, and household goods of any value. Weekly, we see the reports on Facebook. So when Tom leaves me alone at the house, I stay indoors, lock the doors and set the alarm. Fortunately, the local security company responds quickly when an alarm goes off.

Yesterday, when we uploaded the post, we had water. An hour later, we did not. So, continuing today on Day 2, we are without water. It could be a few more days or longer until it’s restored. In the interim, we are fine. I am still recovering with considerable improvement daily. I should be able to go to the river with Rita and Gerhard tomorrow afternoon, but at this point, we’re playing it by ear.

Crooked Face, a unique and handsome devil.

Today, it’s cool and cloudy. We are still wearing sweatshirts with long pants. Tonight, we’ll hunker down for a nice steak dinner cooked on the braai. We have power. We have WiFi. We’re content.

Be content and healthy!

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

In Abu Dhabi in UAE. This looks similar to an ATM, but it’s actually a gold dispensing machine, not an ATM. For more photos, please click here.

Anxious to get “back into the game”…

This dung beetle is on top of his ball, pushing it along to his preferred location, wherever that may be in the bush.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • Nine warthogs – inc. Fred, and Ethyl, Tiny
  • 8 bushbucks – inc. Chewy and Thick Neck
  • 44 mongoose
  • 1 dung beetle with a ball
  • Frank and The Misses

For the past several days, I’ve been wearing Tom’s sweatshirt, leggings, and socks, even when it was as warm as 90F, 32C. As a result, my head was foggy, my thoughts scattered, and my energy level was non-existent. Hopefully, by tomorrow, I will be myself again.

The dung beetle is contemplating his masterpiece, a well-formed ball of dung.

This morning I bolted out of bed, took care of some laundry, showered and dressed, and felt more enthused about a new day than I had in almost two weeks. With the sore throat gone, the cough less frequent, energy-returning, and my state of mind more upbeat, I am looking forward to resuming life as we knew it, such a short time ago.

I never took the antibiotics, which was a tough call, but I promised myself if I didn’t improve the day after I got them, I’d bite the bullet and do so. Fortunately, the progress was palpable day after day. So now, I don’t have to deal with the lingering effects of many days of taking big doses of antibiotics the clinic gave me when I came in for the second Covid test. I am grateful and relieved to have recovered on my own.

A female with perfectly matched tusks. She is new to the garden.

Today, Sunday, we’ll continue to take it easy rather than jump into a flurry of activities that could potentially set me back. Hopefully, I will be up to grocery shopping in the next few days, but if not, we have enough food on hand to last for several more days. We’re looking forward to seeing our friends again soon.

As we write here now, Tiny just left after spending a few hours in the garden. There are two bushbucks nearby, Chewy and Thick Neck, and one pushy female pig. We’d love to feed the bushbucks, but this female we call Lonely Girl is persistent, and if we toss pellets to the bushbucks, she chases them away.

So sorry about the less-than-original photos taken while I was under the weather. This is the mom of four babies.

This is a common occurrence that many residents of Marloth Park lament. How do we feed the bushbucks when the warthogs always hear the pellets fall, regardless of how gently we toss them onto the ground? Instead, they wait in the bush long after we’ve fed them plenty, hoping other animals will stop by and for pellets. Then, immediately, they charge into action, overtaking any possibility of the pellets for the other animals.

Of course, the wildebeest and kudus will overtake the warthogs, and pigs like Tiny of such massive size will overtake most of the other warthogs on the scene. It’s a constant quest for dominance for food. Sure, some say, “Don’t feed at all.” But, it’s hard for those of us who genuinely love the wildlife to stop feeding when we see how hungry they are.

This unknown male warthog arrived with the mom and four babies. Here he is with only two of the youngsters, politely sharing pellets.

We need rain. But, as the locals say, it may not rain for many months, as far out as September or later. As we look into the bush, we see mostly dried brown leaves at a level the animals can reach. Recently, we’ve watched Big Daddies tear down large branches from trees in an attempt to get to the remaining green vegetation at the upper limbs. Once the branch is downed, many other animals also partake of its lush leaves.

But, in a matter of a day or two, the branch is stripped bare. Yes, we understand…its nature. But sadly, the animals contained in this fenced conservancy, although fairly good-sized at 3000 hectares, 7413 acres, don’t allow for the natural migration of wildlife in search of food in distant areas.

A few mongooses,  and warthog mom, and four babies.

Although many animals are territorial and may not wander far even if given the opportunity, some locals have expressed that the fences should come down. This way, the animals could go in and out of Kruger National Park from Marloth Park. Kruger is only across the Crocodile River. But, in doing so, all the apex predators could enter Marloth, significantly changing the dynamic of the conservancy.

It is illegal to get out of one’s car while in Kruger, day or night. Can you imagine how dangerous life in MP could be if the fences were down? Many of the wildlife here now can easily cause fatal injuries if not respected. This would only be exacerbated without the fences.

Here is a mom and four babies and a friendly male. He could be “courting” her and on his best behavior.

No, there’s no easy answer. We go through three 40 kg, 88 pounds, bags of pellets a week, which translates to 120 kg, 265 pounds, not nearly enough considering all the visitors we see each day. However, in the interim, we’ve chosen to continue to feed the animals. Others, concerned like us, are doing their share.

I just received the following message from Louise that reads:

“Message from the Municipality: We are arranging a water tanker to assist the community; it will be collecting water at the Malelane water treatment plant. We request residents to please bring on containers, buckets, or anything you can use to collect some water for drinking, cooking, and bathing. It will be going along the main streets.”

At the moment, we still have water. We’ll see how that goes.

After all, this is Africa.

Be well.

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

Umer, our driver, and guide insisted we stop for a photo op in front of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE, on this date in 2013. For more photos, please click here.

I considered not posting for a few days…Hard to do…

Last evening while sitting at the table on the veranda, both Little and Tiny visited at the same time, a first since we’ve been here. It was quite a thrill to see them generally getting along while eating pellets. Little deferred to Tiny a few times but mainly due to his massive size and enormous tusks.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 9 warthogs – inc. Peter, Paul, and Mary, and Fred, and Ethyl
  • 11 bushbucks – inc. Chewy and Thick Neck
  • 2 wildebeest – inc. Hal and CF (aka Crooked Face)
  • 25 mongoose
  • Frank and The Misses

Over the past week, when the worst of the virus I contracted from where, I don’t know, I’ve struggled to do the posts each day. My thoughts were scattered, my photos were few, and I had difficulty coming up with a topic to encompass most of the text each day.

Here is Hal and CF standing at the veranda railing this morning, awaiting their pellets.

Today isn’t a lot different. I am still a bit foggy and under the weather, although the sore throat, breathing issues, and cough have improved dramatically in the past few days. Unfortunately, tonight, we’ve had to cancel our dinner reservation with Rita and Gerhard at Jabula. I am not up to going out yet.  So instead, we’ll do takeaway from Jabula for the items we’d have ordered at the restaurant.

It will be an easy day for me with laundry dried, folded, and put away and nothing to cook for dinner. Of course, Tom had been more than willing to do “my jobs” all week, but I felt I needed to keep moving to recover sooner. Laying in bed while sick is not my thing. So I always try to do a little around the house.

Last evening, Tiny and Little I was mulling around the garden searching for pellets, which Tom distributed evenly between the two.

My biggest problem these past 11 days since this virus began; each day, I considered posting a notice that read, “Sorry, readers. Due to illness, there won’t be a post today” I didn’t want to lie and say there was another reason. After all, we have always promised to be transparent here, and there have been few exceptions.

I didn’t mention being sick on a few occasions, realizing that our readers may be “sick and tired” of reading about me being “sick and tired.” I get that. When we began our world travels, we knew that with my past less-than-ideal health issues, due to genetics, certainly not a lifestyle, that this risk existed that I’d be sick from time to time.

We never once had a doctor’s appointment the first few years, even with the countless times we both became ill with viruses we caught while cruising. We managed it all on our own, mentioning some of the cases, but not all. We didn’t want to lose readers from complaining about illness.

Thick Neck, an older bushbuck, stops by several times a day. We always welcome him with some pellets.

But, let’s face it, as we age, we are all subject to becoming ill. Ask a person over 65 how often they’ve visited their family practice physician or a specialist in a typical year. Of course, fewer people took the risk of being at their doctor’s office during the pandemic, fearful of Covid-19, and rightfully so.

Yes, I am stuck with bad genetics. Regardless of how hard I’ve worked on improving my lifestyle, eating a suitable diet for me, exercising, and avoiding stress, I still can’t avoid becoming ill from time to time. Although I don’t smoke, drink in excess, only consume small amounts of low alcohol wine, avoid unnecessary risks, I can’t prevent days such as I experienced beginning a week ago Tuesday when the virus symptoms began.

Medium Daddy on the far left with Bossy and Notches in the forefront and bushbucks in the background.

Why would we keep wanting to travel the world with this fact in mind? Simply put, because we want to. That’s not me. I have no desire to become a perpetual patient, living in a retirement facility, going to see the doctor once a month or more. That’s not us. After all, I survived major open-heart surgery here in South Africa 27 months ago, and we’ve since been able to do considerable traveling, enjoying every new experience along the way. Happiness surely must account for a portion of good health.

Yes, we both accept the reality that we’ll have to stop traveling sometime in the next several years. But, the thoughts hover in our minds that perhaps we’ll be able to travel to some degree when that time comes. But, like always, we’ll figure it out then, not now. So, now, we’re living life on our terms, with the only thing over our heads at the moment is the fact that we need to go somewhere for our visa stamps in 33 days. We’ll figure it all out.

We hope you are healthy and enjoying life on your terms. Happy day!

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

Tom had to duck his head to enter the house at the Connemara Heritage and History Center. For more photos posted one year ago, please click here.

A Covid scare…

Tom stepped on one of these “devil” caterpillars, making a loud crunch. They are referred to by the locals as the “devil.”. It’s a nightmare, so we hear, to have one land on a human for an itch that is outrageous and lasts for days. These are the caterpillar phase of the processionary moths or Anaphe reticulate from the Notodontidae family, which usually make long trains. We’ll keep an eye out for a possible photo.

 Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 13 warthogs
  • 17 bushbucks
  • 16 kudus
  • 1 wildebeest – Broken Horn
  • Frank and The Misses

Right now, as I write at 9:00 am, there are 13 animals in the garden, including Broken Horn (wildebeest), 5 kudus, 4 bushbucks, and 3 warthogs. As soon as this batch departs, a new batch will arrive, entertaining us all day long. Two of the warthogs, Fred and Ethyl, who live here, only leaving for short periods, return to sleep during the day and night.

Broken Horn has become a regular, stopping by almost every day. He eats pellets and then makes his way to the driveway for a nap.

They spend their days hunkered down in the garden in a favorite spot and deep into the bush at night. Then, each morning, when we head outside, they are there, nestled close to one another, waiting, in hopes of the first handful of pellets tossed into the garden. They spend most of their days hoping more pellets will be offered to other visitors that they can devour along with the others. It’s all delightful, every single moment.

OK, confession time. You all know how much I dread mentioning it when I am not feeling well, but our regular readers must surely suspect something is not quite right on this end when the posts are less enthusiastic and varied. The only reason I end up mentioning any issues is perhaps to share what it’s like living in foreign countries without access to an all-encompassing health plan and a regular doctor/clinic that knows my full history.

It’s embarrassing that as a lifelong health advocate, I espouse various protocols to maintain good health, and I would never get sick and require medical care. But, I suppose if we lived in the US a few times a year, something would come up; the flu, a virus, or an infection. Unfortunately, few of us are exempt from an occasional bout with these and other conditions.

Bossy stops by several times a day.

We were no exception in our old lives, and we’re certainly no exception now, especially as we’ve aged and fallen prey to some conditions we may have acquired through our travels, indigenous to a specific area. So how I came down with this current situation baffles me.

To the best of my knowledge, I wasn’t exposed to anyone with a cold or virus, especially while wearing a mask, washing hands, and social distancing. But, who knows? It could have been anyone or any situation of which I’m not aware. This tells me I haven’t been as diligent in avoiding Covid-19 as I should have been if I “caught” this virus from someone along the way and could easily “catch” Covid in the same manner.

Last Tuesday, when we headed to Komatipoort for grocery shopping, I’d been experiencing a “tickly” type of cough and a bad sore throat for a few days. Of course, my first reaction was Covid, so Tom and I stopped at the medical lab in Komatipoort for a Covid test, getting the much appreciated negative results the next morning.

Tiny never disappoints. His gentle nature and interest in us are delightful. Of course, he enjoys pellets, carrots, apples, and bird seeds from time to time.

Knowing I didn’t have Covid was such a relief, I gave little thought to my symptoms, when over the week, very slowly they exacerbated, but not much more than a typical cold. I didn’t have a runny nose, a fever, and rarely coughed, mainly aware of the sore throat, but never giving it much of a thought.

We went about our lives, dining out, visiting with friends, and generally feeling only a little off. Then, late Sunday night, five days after the onset of the mild symptoms, I started having a terrible time breathing, so much so that I had to use my asthma inhalers multiple times to no avail. I barely slept, which I mentioned in an earlier post but didn’t go into the details about why I didn’t sleep. I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t want to whine here as I often do.

Over this week, the breathing issues and cough became unbearable, so much so that I began to wonder if I had a “false negative” and needed another Covid test. So a few days ago, on Wednesday morning, eight days after my first Covid test and feeling too sick to drive to Komatipoort, we drove to the new clinic in Marloth Park for the test. But, unfortunately, no doctor wasn’t on the premises.

This is Spikey with his tiny sprouting horns. He is also a several-times-a-day visitor.

Not only did I get the test, but the nurse practitioner wrote down all of my symptoms and vital signs and called the doctor. When she took my pulse oxygen, it was low for me at 89 instead of my usual 97-99. When I walked out the door an hour later (Tom had waited in the car), They told me to return the next day, Thursday, for my prescriptions. I’d asked for a different asthma inhaler that works better for me than the one I currently had, but I had not had any major asthma issues for a long time.

In the meantime, I was using a portable powered nebulizer using a drug called Pulmicort, which I purchased in India (no prescription required) in case we got Covid. It aids in breathing issues and, over the past several days, was my saving grace. I was finally able to sleep.

Yesterday, Tom picked up my prescriptions, and I was shocked to see the doctor had ordered 8 drugs for me. I’d only requested an antibiotic if my situation didn’t improve and a different inhaler that works better than what I had on hand. I’ll never understand why I was prescribed multiple sinus allergy and asthma pills (which I haven’t taken since a child) and even a narcotic pain reliever. I didn’t mention any issues with pain.

Wildebeests Willie and Willard.

So as it’s turned out, I am well-stocked in the event of allergy issues down the road or if we become injured or have severe pain. But since I prefer not to take prescription medications unless they are life-saving, I didn’t even take the two different massive doses of antibiotics, after all. I started improving yesterday afternoon rapidly when the cough loosened up, and now I can say with confidence I am on the mend. The cough and breathing issue is still there but considerably better. The sore throat is gone. I slept 8 hours last night.

At times, doctors prescribe antibiotics with pressure from patients, when in fact, we may have a virus that is not aided by these drugs. Had I not improved by 70% in the past 24 hours, I would have taken them. But now, I am beginning to feel like myself after 10 days since the onset.

My comments here are not intended to suggest you don’t follow your doctor’s prescriptions and orders. But, I knew based on how much better I feel that I didn’t need all of these drugs. Yesterday, the second Covid was negative. Had it been positive, I everything would have changed, including my  treatment plan.

Big Daddy sniffing the air during mating season.

We had to cancel a few social events this week with Rita and Gerhard, but I believe by tomorrow night, we will be able to go with them to Jabula for dinner.

We hope you are all feeling well after your Covid-19 vaccination if you so chose to have it. For those in the US, have a safe Memorial Day weekend.

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

Pansies at the Connemara Heritage and History Centre appear to have little faces. For more photos, please click here.

Comfort is key…Creature comforts…

A pair of blue waxbills are sitting in a tree by the birdbath.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 11 warthogs
  • 15 bushbucks
  • 8 kudus
  • 1 wildebeest
  • Frank and The Misses

It is so nice and cool now; we can hardly believe it. This morning when we stepped outside in the 55F, 13C, it was refreshing with no heat or significant humidity.

Kudus often stop by.

Since I no longer have any warm clothes, I dressed in jeans, a long-sleeve tee-shirt, and one of Tom’s two sweatshirts. He’s wearing his zippered sweatshirt, and I’m wearing his over-the-head version. I guess this will be our daily attire over the next several months.

Last night it was so cool that this morning I asked Louise to have Vusi or Zef bring us a heavy duvet, suitable for the size of the bed. The two blankets we’ve been using are too short and too narrow, and now that it’s cooler, bundling up requires a bigger blanket.

Kudus are beautiful and handsome animals.

We chose to use those two smaller blankets when dust mites were an issue. But now that winter is fast approaching; the dust mite issues are over for several months. The mozzies are also at a minimum right now since they don’t thrive in cold weather. So I’ve just about stopped using repellent other than at dusk when we’ll be on the veranda when we see only a few mozzies buzzing around.

Being free of outrageous heat so common in Africa, we’re especially enjoying this period of time. However, the difference in our comfort level is palpable. There have been many places in the world where we stayed over the past almost nine years that were grossly uncomfortable.

Bushbucks in the side yard watching to see if we’re offering pellets.

I always espoused the concept of “adaptation.” We chose this life and must always be willing to adapt to discomforts common to the areas/countries in which we’ve lived. There have been many, which we’ve mentioned in prior posts.

The greatest discomfort generally revolves around uncomfortable weather, especially when there is no aircon in the bedroom.  Also, for me, particularly, have been issues with dust mites, no-see-ums, mosquitoes, biting flies, chiggers, and ticks. These are certainly not exclusive to Africa. Some of the most annoying flies had been in Bali and Australia.

Four wildebeest in our driveway; Hal and Broken Horn, Willie and Willard.

The worst no-see-ums, blood-sucking gnats were in Belize in 2013. There was no escape from them, especially when screens aren’t used on windows, not there and not in many countries.

In Bovelgio, Italy, in 2013, the WiFi was horrible, and the biting flies were relentless. The hallway to the master bedroom had a ceiling lower than either of our heads, and we often bumped our heads. It was summer and hot; the bed was only a double and lumpy. There were no screens, and we were constantly chasing flies out the windows.

They moved back to the garden after spending time in the driveway.

One of the least comfortable locations was Marrakesh, Morocco. The riad was beautiful, but all the furnishings were stuffed with what felt like sand. There was nowhere in the house we could sit comfortably, not even the dining table with the mosaic wrought iron chairs. The lounge/living room furniture was so uncomfortable we could barely sit there and work online.

We struggled in Morocco for the 2½ months, me especially, due to the sand fleas. I never slept well for the entire period we lived in that property when I was itching all night. Tom never experienced any bites. While there, we weren’t able to find any repellent in any of the shops.

A lone giraffe in the area.

Now, here in South Africa, we are as comfortable as we could be in cool weather. The house provides everything we need with ease, especially during these cooler winter months; fewer insects, fewer snakes, a comfortable bed, aircon as needed, excellent WiFi, and more wildlife visitors than we could ever imagine.

Sure, now and then, there’s load shedding (power outages). But we’ve managed to figure out how to deal with them, planning activities, meals, and food safety accordingly.

Comfort is surely a factor in enjoying our world travels. Fortunately, in most cases, we’ve managed to work our way through any obstacles we encounter along the way, always remembering that we chose this life and that, at times, it may not be ideal.

Happy day!

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

Four “Big Daddy” kudus stopped by with one female, all vying for her attention.  They were more interested in her than pellets. For more photos from the year-ago post, please click here.

Late start to today’s post…Sharing tasks…An old friend returns???…

Frank and The Misses, sharing their seeds with two hornbills. They all got along quite well.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 16 warthogs
  • 9 bushbucks
  • 7 kudus
  • 36 mongoose
  • 1 wildebeest
  • Frank and The Misses

Somehow the morning got away from us. We had a few local errands and didn’t get done with everything until about an hour ago. Then, I had to make several phone calls to straighten out a few credit/debit card issues. Tom’s debit card hasn’t been working at ATMs, only to discover that most likely, the chip has gone bad, and we’ll need another card for him eventually.

Since mail is so slow arriving in South Africa, there was no point to order a new debit card, which our bank offered to send here. But, it could be six months until it could arrive. So, we’ll wait until we return to the US at some point in the future and request one at that time. Secondly, one of my credit cards, a new one we received in a package from our mailing service in Nevada, which took weeks to arrive through DHL’s overnight service, hasn’t been working.

Mating season is upon us.

I’d gone online and activated it as soon as it arrived, but apparently, that process didn’t work, and I had to reactivate it by phone. Preferring not to accumulate phone charges on our Google Fi account, I used Skype for both cards, neither of which included a charge since they were both toll-free numbers. I tried using the card three or four times, and each time it was declined. Little did I know, the original activation didn’t go through. So now, we’re set on this card.

It feels good to get these little issues out of the way. But, I must admit that I literally despise making “business-related” phone calls. The process is long and laborious as well as frustrating at times when I lose the signal. and get disconnected. With Tom, hard of hearing, I am responsible for making any phone calls. Plus, I am slightly more diplomatic and patient than he might be, which ends in a more satisfactory result in most cases.

This morning nine pigs converged on the garden, two moms, four babies, and three males, all interested in mating with the moms. The large tusked male reminded us of Tusket from the old house, but we weren’t sure, it was him.

I don’t begrudge having to make these calls when Tom does an equal amount, if not more, handling tasks in running our day-to-day lives. For example, he does all the dishes, pots, and pans; refills the water in the birdbath for the animals daily; keeps the bucket of pellets we use all day filled with pellets; makes pitchers of ice tea, handle making big bags of ice twice a day based on our excessive use; cooks on the braai, bring in and unload all the groceries and other items and lately, handling the management of the trail cam daily. Also, he handles all the cash we get from the ATMs.

Plus, each evening, he handles setting up the veranda to avoid the mozzies and other insects using special repellent coils and candles, ensuring no insects will bother us as darkness falls.

The bushbucks love Frank’s seeds and often push him and The Misses out of the way so he can eat from Frank’s container.

All I do is post here, take and manage all the photos from the regular camera, prep for our meals and guests who may visit, do all the laundry, put it away, pay our few bills, and make those darned calls. Since we don’t have to clean or make the bed five days a week, not much is required to stay organized and orderly. On the weekends, generally, as the last one up, I make the bed. Easy peasy.

I should mention that Tom does ALL of the driving, the car wash, and filling up at the petrol station. Recently, when we had to return the rental car to Nelspruit for an inspection, requiring a three-hour round trip drive, he did that on his own. So I was thrilled to be able to stay here.

The mature male bushbucks have huge, sharp horns. Humans should steer clear of approaching these animals up close. As gentle as they seem. They’ve been known to inflict fatal harm when threatened.

This morning, once we returned from our few errands, immediately, we made ourselves a cup of coffee and headed outside to see how the animals were doing in our absence. Suddenly, there were dozens of visiting wildlife friends in the garden, as indicated above.

What stood out the most was the arrival of a warthog with enormous tusks, as shown in today’s photos. Could that have been Tusker, another favorite pig we came to know at the Orange house in 2018/2019? We weren’t sure, but he jumped to respond when I called out, “Tusker.” In time, we shall see, if it’s him.

These huge tusks are some of the longest we’ve seen.

Now, after all these months, Tiny comes running when I call out to him if he is anywhere in the immediate vicinity. We laugh so hard when we see him respond to my call. The same happens with Little, as it always did. We certainly enjoy their visits, along with the others.

That’s it for today, folks. With this late start, I need to get the two organic free-range chicken ready for the braai, get crackin’ on corrections for today when I’ve been diligent about getting them done. Have a fantastic day!

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

The design and decor of the bar depict exactly what one would envision for a small-town pub in Ireland. For more photos, please click here.

Possible Covid-19 vaccination here in South Africa…What is “normal?”…

Spikey, young male bushbuck drinking from the birdbath.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 9 warthogs
  • 7 bushbucks
  • 18 kudus
  • 54 mongoose
  • 20 helmeted guinea-fowls
  • Frank and The Misses

When Linda and Ken texted me last night to tell me they’d been notified by the South Africa website where we all registered for the Covid vaccine, I was hopeful. They live in Johannesburg, so they’d probably get theirs sooner than us, living in a remote area. Today, Linda sent me a text that they’ve had their first of two vaccines.

Bossy never misses an opportunity to let us know she’s in the garden. She prances right up onto the veranda, staring into our eyes.

With only 36 days remaining until we have to depart the country for a visa stamp, having the vaccine out of the way would be a huge relief, even if we only got the first of the two jabs, receiving the second jab after we return. If we cannot go to Kenya due to new lockdown measures, we’ll head to the US for a few weeks, see the family and get the second dose there.

It’s not easy having everything up in the air for so long for all of us. Both Tom and I agree that we don’t care for the expression “the new normal,” which has been grossly overused since the onset of the pandemic over 15 months ago. But, will life ever return to “normal?”

Kudus in the garden.

What is “normal” after all? Simply, we can say it was freedom of movement; lack of requirements to wear face masks; lack of a necessity of social distancing; shops and restaurants open during “expected” operational hours; public and private gatherings with no limitations on numbers of participants, other than space considerations; and, for us, most importantly, the ability to travel to most countries in the world without outrageous requirements, Covid-19 PRC tests, Covid-19 vaccines and additional documents to complete.

This pandemic has cost a fortune for most people due to loss of jobs/income; loss of businesses; loss of entrepreneurial opportunities in many fields of endeavor, and in many cases; loss of a sense of self-worth and hopefulness for the future.

Bushbucks in the garden on a sunny afternoon.

This is not to say that “normal” meant “perfect” in the past, before the pandemic. It wasn’t then, and it won’t be now going forward. It’s the nature of life itself. There will always be wars, political unrest, opposing political and social views, illness, disasters, and more. The list goes on and on. Was all of that “normal?” In its day and in days to come, that may be considered normal.

But, we’re not here to espouse the virtues or the lack thereof of the state of the world, the economy, or social unrest. Instead, our goal here is to share our thoughts, dreams, and ideas about world travel, particularly as retired seniors, to see as much of the world as possible, in whatever time God or a higher power has given us to continue life on this planet.

Big Daddy stopped by to check out the female visitors.

And, what is “normal” now, as opposed to the phrase “new normal.?” Many areas of life are the same as they’ve always been. We eat, drink, sleep, entertain ourselves in myriad ways, engage socially and psychologically with others.

We spend time on our phones and other digital devices in a constant search for answers to whatever is our flavor of the month, whether work-related, socially related, or on a mission to expand our interests and knowledge. We all share a commonality in many of these areas. That hasn’t changed. That may never change in this generation or this life as we know it. That sense of normalcy will most likely remain with us, as far as any one of us can see, well into the future.

Although the pandemic has changed so many lives, sadly lost so many lives, and altered the day-to-day of many lives throughout the world, in reality, it’s not a “new normal.” Instead, it’s a consequential and profound “glitch” in the cycle of life on the planet. Believe it or not, in time, I feel confident this will go away, sadly leaving in its wake, losing loved ones, and a loss of financial security in its destructive path.

This is a Thick Neck. He’s an older bushbuck with long horns and an oversized girth to his neck. He stops by daily.

But, we humans are resilient. After all, we’ve been here for the millennium, with varying scientific opinions as to whether it’s been millions of years or considerably less. Countless species have become extinct, yet we remain largely due to the size of our brains and perhaps by divine intervention. We may never fully know the answer with certainty.

In any case, normal will be what we make it. As that innate resiliency prevails in most of our lives and we’ll continue to make the best of it, in whatever form that takes.

May we all tap into our resiliency and form the lives we choose for the future…

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

A room was offered for rent at this property in Bali for INR 834, US $10.97 per night! For more photos, please click here.

Out of sorts…Out of sight…Out of mind…Out of time…

This mongoose must have been injured and lost hers/his lips. Possibly, due to inbreeding it could have been a birth defect. But she/he was as rambunctious as the others for some paloney and eggs.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 6 warthogs
  • 6 bushbucks
  • 4 kudus
  • 38 mongoose
  • 33 helmeted guinea-fowls
  • Frank and The Misses
  • 2 hornbills

Last night was one of the worst night’s sleep I’ve had in a long time. Ironically, in yesterday’s post I’d posted that a bad night was not worthy of mention. Today, feeling like a wreck from a fitful night, I couldn’t help but bring it up. Surely, it will impact my entire day.

A pile of mongoose going after a pan of raw scrambled eggs.

Fortunately, all of the laundry is done and most of what we’ll eat for dinner is prepared. I need to respond to a zillion email messages and take a pleasantly anticipated WhatsApp call from one of our loyal readers, Otherwise, I can be as lazy as necessary to get me through the day.

My FitBit says I slept 6 hours and 15 minutes, but I did not. It counted the time I lay there, quiet as a mouse trying to get myself to drift off. I listened to soothing music on my phone, using earbuds, in a desperate attempt to get to sleep and miracle of all miracles, it did work, about 10 times for short bursts of sleep. The FitBit shows I awoke 12 times from midnight on. As a result, I feel “out of sorts” today.

It’s rare to find a mongoose climbing a tree.

As for “out of sight,” I kept my phone on the nightstand and didn’t do my usual game playing during the night, thinking that avoiding the screen may help me get back to sleep. By 3:00 am, I was “out of my mind” doing the worst thing I could do…worry about not sleeping. It’s pointless to do this. Nothing good comes of it.

As for “out of time.” I awoke for the last time at 6:15 am and no matter how relaxed I pressed myself to be, it was hopeless, I’d truly run “out of time” and decided to get up and begin my day. Every usual morning routine took everything I had, but here I am now, showered, dressed and put together for yet another day.

The mongoose hover around us waiting for treats. We only give them foods suitable for their omnivore diet.

I even went as far as folding and putting away all of the dry laundry from the rack, fixed a broken fingernail and cut up some carrots for today’s visitors. Once I’ve uploaded today’s post, I have a few “business matters” to handle and of course, do no less than corrections on 10 posts, a schedule I’ve held myself to diligently over this past month. Yesterday, I passed the halfway mark.

We had a great day and evening, nothing that would precipitate a poor night’s sleep. The day was pleasant and entertaining with more visitors than we could have imagined. At 4:00 pm we headed over to Rita and Gerhard’s house on Hornbill, the same house we’d rented in 2013/2014.

Sitting on a rock, staring at us with those little beady eyes.

I only drank two glasses of low alcohol red wine at their house and when we returned a few hours later, I drank only caffeine free iced tea for the remainder of the evening, as usual. Once back home, dinner for me consisted of a few fried eggs and grilled chicken breasts. After dinner, still feeling a little hungry, I had a chunk of Emmenthal cheese…that’s it. No sleep disturbing foods or sense of fullness, and above all, no life changing thoughts on my mind.

Never once did I think about this upcoming, June 30th, when we need new visa stamps. We’ve resigned ourselves to that reality. We’re either going to Kenya for a few days or the US for a few weeks. That’s it. No other options are available with Covid-19 restrictions everywhere. Why worry about that?

They often stop for a drink from the birdbath where we keep fresh water.

It will be good when today is over and I can hopefully get a good night’s sleep. I have no doubt many of our readers have experienced such a poor night’s sleep and struggled the next day, like I am doing today. For me, the likelihood of a nap is slim when I am not a napper.  Also, it would probably be best to stay awake and try to recover tonight.

It’s another beautiful and cool day. Although it’s likely we’ll have a few hot days in the months to come, this cooler weather, as we roll into winter, is blissful. There are less insects, less mozzies and typical for cool periods, less snakes mulling around our garden. Of course, with the almost daily visits of dozens of mongoose, who kill and eat snakes, its a mini insurance policy against the uninvited reptiles.

Helmeted guinea-fowls and warthogs in the garden.

At the moment, Tiny is drinking water from the birdbath, Chewy, our jaw-cracking bushbuck is munching pellets, his jaw, making noise with each bite, and two hornbills are banging on the kitchen window, their usual preoccupation. Fred and Ethyl are permanent residents here and hang around day and night. They are the first pigs we see each morning and the last to hunker down at night.

We’ll make the best of the day, regardless of how I am feeling, hoping tomorrow I’ll be back to my usual self.

Be well.

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

These two cape buffaloes, close to the dirt road, with their horns stuck together made it easy for us to get these photos. For more photos, please click here.

Another lovely morning in the bush…No, life isn’t perfect…

Tiny is a magnificent example of the warthog species; huge body, massive tusks and coarse stiff hair that stands when agitated.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 12 warthogs
  • 2 wildebeest
  • 13 bushbucks
  • 11 kudus including 1 Big Daddy
  • Frank and The Misses (twice)
  • 1 duiker

It would be easy for a new reader to begin reading our posts since we arrived in South Africa and make an assumption that we are the kind of people that always say, “Everything is fantastic,” implying that it is that way all the time. As I recall, I can easily think of people who always say that everything is perfect, when in fact that may not be the case.

Of course, most will not answer, “How are you?” with a negative response, revealing how much they “really” feel. At times, it can appear socially inappropriate. When close friends are alone together over a coffee, tea or adult beverage, they may be more inclined to reveal any negative aspects of their lives at the moment or in the past.

This is OT, One Tusk, who visits on occasion,

On a daily basis, we find that most people say that they are “good”, in an attempt to stay and to appear optimistic and positive, whatever their life circumstances. Let us admit that life is sometimes difficult, even when there is nothing particularly difficult at the moment. And, when there are challenges, we often try to keep them to ourselves, to avoid appearing negative, or to be whining.

In our lives of world travel, almost nine years later, with so much revealed on a daily basis, it’s difficult to hide how we “really” feel or how we’re doing at any given time. In a perfect world, I would keep my mouth closed (fingers on the keypad) and always be positive. But, I truly believe, if we operated on this basis, few readers would have stayed with us for these many years.

The face of a warthog, in this case “Little”, is a conglomeration of slightly less attractive features. Perhaps they see us as having unattractive characteristics!

Not that I like the show, but what made the TV series, “The Kardashians” so popular was the strife, the fights, the fears and the insecurities of its family members and friends. The same thing goes for all the “Real Housewives of….,” another TV series that we don’t watch, with it’s altercations, angst, jealousies and the general disharmony of the group.

Well, in our case, although we aren’t as popular as either of those reality shows, we, too, go through periods when we experience negative experiences, thoughts, fears and disappointments. We share them here. Some have asked if we get along as well as we present online and, we do. What you see of us, as a couple, is who we are.

Big Daddy stops by more to see the females than he does for pellets. Check out his muscles!

We have no drama, we seldom snip at one another, and on the few occasions when Tom gets grumpy for a few minutes, I totally ignore him. Only minutes later, he’s his usual cheerful self, as if nothing happened at all. Since I don’t like confrontation, years ago, I chose not to do “grumpy,” resulting in the fact that I don’t fight, argue and carry on when things don’t go my way. There’s usually a solution to most frustrating situations.

But, as mentioned, our lives aren’t perfect. At our age, we have to be realistic about aches and pains, lack of sleep, and  occasional gastrointestinal distress. Based on our lifestyle, we don’t run to the doctor at the first sign of discomfort, pain or general malaise. Of course, if an issue lingers or feels life-threatening, we’d immediately address it seeking appropriate medical care.

One of our new favorite bushbucks, aptly named Spikey, for his tiny horns, which surely will grow as he matures.

We often find, we can figure out why we’re having a problem and how we can remedy it on our own. No, we don’t bother to mention every ache, pain or sleepless night we experience. But, on those days, feeling out-of-sorts, we may feel life is far from perfect.

Then, there are those days, which are in the majority, when “everything is right with the world.” Whether we’re in Marloth Park, or any of the amazing places we’ve visited in the world, those days are treasured and remembered.

Kudus enjoy drinking water from both the birdbath and the pool.

May we all have plenty of those memorable days when “everything is right with the world.”

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

The nutrient-rich hills of Madeira were being prepared for summer produce. For more photos, please click here..

Part 2…A memorable evening at the Crocodile River with friends….

This is a red-backed shrike. We saw several of these birds while at the Crocodile River.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 1 wildebeest
  • 7 warthogs
  • 9 bushbucks
  • 42 helmeted guinea-fowls
  • Frank and The Misses
  • 74 mongoose (two bands)

It’s blissfully cool today. Tom is wearing a heavy zip hoodie, and I am wearing a long-sleeved tee-shirt. As always, we’re on the veranda savoring every moment in the bush. First thing this morning, I cut up apples, carrots, cabbage for the animals, small separate pieces for the bushbucks and duikers, and larger chunks for the wildebeests, kudus, and warthogs.

The shrike on a post on the fence separating Marloth Park from Kruger National Park.

When wildebeest, Broken Horn, stopped by, we tossed pellets and vegetables to him along with a few larger pieces of carrots. He ate everything but oddly left a big part of a carrot. We were concerned one of the lingering bushbucks would try to eat this oversized chunk of carrot.

Five red-backed shrikes next to our rental car at Two Trees location, which overlooks the Crocodile River.

Moments later, a warthog appeared and ate the majority of the carrots, leaving a small piece that fell out of his mouth that he didn’t happen to notice. Within minutes, a bushbuck appeared and managed to eat the small piece. Nature is amazing. We’ll never toss out vegetables for the larger animals unless we’re watching what’s going on to ensure there is no risk for the smaller animals choking on larger pieces.

The river is beautiful at sunset.

It takes a lot of time and effort to cut up carrots into tiny pieces. Regardless, I will cut up a small batch for the bushbucks and a larger batch for the others each morning. Timing is essential, especially when the pigs arrive when everything is wiped out in minutes. We wait and watch for them to leave, enabling us to feed the other animals.

Mom and baby giraffe stopped by the area where we’d set up our chairs.

It’s been a busy morning so far. Just now, as I write this, Frank and The Misses arrived for a late breakfast. I jumped up to fill their two little containers with seeds and the other with water. A second ago, we heard a lion’s roar from either Dezi or Fluffy, who live in Lionspruit, located at the far end of our garden.

When I went indoors to fill Frank’s water container, I noticed Broken Horn resting in the driveway only a few meters from the car. Warthog Lonely Boy is sleeping in the garden while two bushbucks wander through the dense bush, waiting for the warthog to leave so they can have more food. It’s a constant

Mom and baby were checked for their safety.

Now, again as I write this, the helmeted guinea-fowls are back, and so is the mongoose that only 30 minutes ago, we’d given them Tom’s bones from his rib dinner at Jabula last night and also enough pieces of paloney (yep, not a typo), sufficient for all of them to get a bite or two. Ten of them drank from the birdbath simultaneously. What a scene!

Speaking of Jabula Lodge and Restaurant, we certainly enjoyed ourselves last night at dinner with Rita and Gerhard. Tom and Gerhard had the ribs, and Rita and I had the delicious lamb shank, my new favorite at this fabulous restaurant. The Friday night ambiance was playful and fun, with music from Dawn and Leon’s excellent playlist.

Another lone giraffe stopped by to see what was going on. There were about 15 of us savoring the view.

After dinner, the local hardware store owner, Erica, a long-time resident of Marloth Park, joined us for a lively and animated chat about places to visit in South Africa. As much as we love hearing about resorts and camps we “should” visit in South Africa, with the immigration factor always hanging over our heads, we hesitate to leave the bush where we are already so happy and fulfilled.

We’ve already stayed in many stunning resorts throughout the world, and honestly, right now, we aren’t in the mood to stay anywhere that reminds us of a hotel unless we have to. Also, after a morning like this, it would be hard to break away for any reason other than getting our visas stamped.

Before darkness fell, this shrike made herself at home on the side mirror of our car.

Tonight, I am making taco salad for Tom. He’s lost all the weight he needed to lose and certainly enjoys a special, although still low carb meal on occasions, including the vegetables that go with it. Tonight, I’ll have chicken, a little ground beef without the taco seasonings and three eggs cooked in butter. No tortilla chips or hard-shelled taco bowls will be included.

Tonight will be a “movie night,” and we’ll hunker down after dinner on this very cool day and evening.

Be well.

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

At every turn in Connemara, Ireland, the scenery was breathtaking. For more photos, please click here.