Delightful evening at the river with friends…Remaining photos from Frikkee’s Dam…

A young giraffe drinking from the dam.

Late yesterday afternoon, Rita and Gerhard picked us up to make our way to Buckler’s Africa, a nearby resort and restaurant overlooking the Crocodile River. The sky was clear, the weather was pleasant, and it was good to see our friends once again after their almost two-week trip to the Drakensberg Mountains, which included a caravan of seven owners/couples of high-end off-road vehicles.

They recently purchased a “rough-road” vehicle and had substantial training on how to drive on the relatively unnavigable roads in South Africa, of which there are many. They learned well and were thrilled to participate in the adventure to remote locations unreachable to most travelers.

Another giraffe was nearby while we were at Frikkee’s Dam.

While they shared their adventures, we sat at a table close to the veranda’s railing with a bird’s eye view of the river. They shared a fantastic slide show they’d made, along with many photos they’d taken of exceptional scenery and wildlife. It was interesting to hear about their adventures and the two of them, both competent off-road drivers, are quite brave.

After posting our remaining photos from the get-together at Frikkee’s Dam on Sunday, we’ll share the photos we took at the river in tomorrow’s post.

Buckler’s restaurant is a  lovely and very reasonably priced establishment. They don’t serve alcohol, so we brought our own, for which they provided glasses and ice without a corkage fee. The food was fresh and good, although the portions were smallish. The bill for each couple was ZAR 310, US $21.20, quite a bargain.

It was fun sitting around the two braais as the various meats cooked. Everything was fantastic!

It was fun to take photos of several waterbucks along the banks of the Crocodile River and, once again, engage with them in lively conversation. Tomorrow, they are leaving for a few weeks in Germany to visit family, and we’ll see them again when they return. There are many comings and goings of our Marloth Park friends as well as ourselves, as we soon prepare to return to the USA for four months, as mentioned in earlier posts.

This morning, we took off for Komatipoort to shop for groceries. It’s been over two weeks since we shopped, and we were just about out of food. Generally, I like to get the cupboards bare, which inspires me to wash the shelves in the fridge to prepare for a new influx of food.

What a great day we had!

Sure we could ask Vusi and Zef to clean the fridge, but we don’t ask them to do much more for us other than make the bed, wash the floors, clean the bathrooms, dust the shelves, and sweep and wash the veranda floor. We clean the kitchen ourselves, do the dishes, and do our own laundry, all of which they’d do if we asked.

We remind ourselves we won’t have a daily cleaning service in the US, and we’d better gear up for doing more for ourselves. We will hire a weekly cleaner in Arizona, as we have throughout the world, while staying in holiday homes. It’s an expense we’ve factored into our cost of living, regardless of where we may be.

The entrance gate to Lionspruit where we entered to make our way to Frikkee’s Dam, about 15 minutes on very bumpy dirt roads. There’s an entrance fee for non-residents of Zar 120, US $8.26. An attendant monitors the gate from morning until 1800 hrs, 6:00 pm when the gate is locked for the night.

I took a break from working on this post to go with Tom to Komati to the market. We just returned, put everything away after purchasing ample food to last for the next two weeks. Hopefully, we won’t have more power outages after there were several, earlier this morning. The fridge and freezer are packed to the brim.

Next Monday, I’m scheduled to get the darned tooth pulled, the one that had a root canal about 60 days ago and won’t stop hurting when I chew or brush my teeth. It’s disappointing after all that, but there’s nothing more that can be done. While at the dentist, Dr. Singh, will work on another tooth that needs a crown and remove the last of my silver fillings.. I’d like to get all of this dental work done before we head to the USA.

That’s it for today, folks. Not much exciting news here right now other than lots of fun socializing with our friends and spending quality time with our animal friends who are in and out all day and evening. Tomorrow night’s another potluck get-together. I better start thinking of what we’ll bring this time.

Enjoy your day!

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

This photo was posted one year ago today while in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #161. This is Buckingham Palace. We took this photo in 2014. For more photos, please click here.

WiFi was out…Late posting…Great time at Frikkee’s Dam…

Three kudus near the braai area at Frikkee’s Dam in Lionspruit.

When the WiFi is out in the house/area, the only way we can post is using the Google Fi data on my phone or using the phone as a hotspot to connect my laptop. In both cases, the cost is high, making posting for the day too costly when I’d be using data during the several hours necessary to complete the day’s story.

Miracle of all miracles, the WiFi was restored a few hours later, and now we can post as usual. As we’ve mentioned many times, “This is Africa,” and the infrastructure is unstable and unpredictable. It’s a factor that everyone who lives here must accept as a fact of life.

This kudu jumped over the fence to join us.

So, now that we’re able to post today, we’re pleased to be able to post photos from yesterday’s enjoyable party at Frikkee’s Dam, located inside Lionspruit, located within the borders of Marloth Park. We hadn’t been to Frikkee’s Dam since we arrived here in January but had during our past visits several occasions.

It’s a private gathering of a group of us that have attended over the years. Everyone brings food to share, potluck-style. We made our usual Brunch Eggs that were a big hit, with only a small amount left to bring home. Since it had sat out all day, we decided not to eat the leftovers but instead feed them to the mongoose, who are carnivores, and the meat, egg, and cheese dish was a treat for them this morning.

Two curious kudus were checking out the humans. We didn’t bring along any pellets!

It was funny when Tom tossed out bite-sized pieces this morning, when Peter, Paul, and Mary competed with the mongoose for the leftovers. Generally, pigs only eat vegetation. But, on occasion, they show interest in bones and certain types of meat. There was bacon in the Brunch Eggs. We wondered how they enjoyed eating bacon, pigs that they are!

The time spent from 11;30 am until 5:30 pm when we finally packed up our stuff and left, was delightful every moment. The conversations were interesting and varied, and it was easy to join into any robust chatter at any point. It was fun to see people we hadn’t seen since the last time we attended a gathering at Frikkee’s Dam, back in 2018.

Another kudu is at the edge of the lake looking our way.

It was interesting to hear varying views of Covid-19 and the vaccine. Some in our group didn’t believe the vaccine is safe, and it was fascinating to listen to their viewpoint. Most of the attendees were already vaccinated, but a few were not due to age or preference. But the conversation was always civilized and considerate, accepting one another’s opinions.

The Friskkee’s Dam braai area had been renovated in the past few years, providing a cleaner, nicer space for a braai. We all enjoyed the new setting, which was easier to walk about with less awful tree roots causing tripping hazards in the past. Plus, the fence was lowered, and it was easier to see wildlife drinking from the lake while we stayed safely behind the fence.,

Tom took this photo of a bird with an orange head. Any ideas what bird this may be?

Back at our house (since we’d eaten very little at the event), we cooked a light meal of a few hamburgers (no buns) topped with cheddar cheese along with a small salad for me. We streamed a few episodes of a good show we’ve been watching on Hulu, Big Sky, finishing up season one’s episodes. Season two will begin in the latter part of September.

It was a busy morning in the garden. We were swamped, tending to the needs of our visitors. We had eight bushbucks, seven kudus, two duikers, 20+ mongooses, and as Tom said, a _ _ _ _ load of pigs. Of course, Frank and The Misses stopped by a few times, with the four Go-Away birds carrying on noisily in the background. Little was often seen hovering nearby, partaking in any morsels he could garner in the process.

Giraffe drinking from the lake with another looking on.

Rita and Gerhard have returned from their road trip to the Drakensburg Mountains, and today at 1530 hours, 3:30 pm, they will pick us up to head to Buckler’s Africa Lodge to watch the sunset, the Crocodile River for wildlife sightings, all followed up by dinner on their veranda. It will be excellent to see them again after almost two weeks since they left.

Have a lovely day!

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

One year ago, this photo was posted in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #159. This was the shortest (height) car either of us has ever seen, spotted in youth Kensington, England, in 2014. I can only imagine that getting out of it would require rolling out the door onto the street and then standing up. For more, please click here.

Everything changed in a day…Bush braai today at Frikkee’s Dam…

Five bushbucks waiting for pellets.

Yesterday afternoon, we stopped by Louise and Danie’s to drop off money for the three bags of game pellets they’d purchased for us.  A guy with a truck filled with pellets stops by most weeks to sell them to residents and holidaymakers staying in the various houses in the bush.

We purchase three bags which is close to the amount we go through each week. Each 40 kg, the 88-pound bag is priced at ZAR 230, US $15.62, considerably less than we’d pay in Komatipoort at various shops. Thus, the three bags cost ZAR 690, US $46.85, according to today’s exchange rate between the US dollar and the South African rand (ZAR).

We make this same purchase usually four times a month, although, on occasion, the pellet guy doesn’t show, and we have to purchase them at a higher cost at Obaro (hardware store) when we head to Komatipoort to the grocery store. When the pellet guy does show either on Thursday, Friday, or both, Louise always pays for our pellets, and we bring her the money to reimburse her. Then, Zef and Vusi deliver the pellets to us to prevent Tom from hauling the 120 kg, 264 pounds, and possibly injuring himself.

Four Go-Away birds making their funny noises with three in the tree and one on the birdbath.

Many people don’t feed the animals either due to the cost or their personal beliefs that wild animals shouldn’t be fed. However, pellets are entirely tailored to their eating habits, made with vegetation that is entirely suitable for each animal that partakes.

The animals that like the pellets are herbivores, and some are omnivores. Even the helmeted guinea fowls, omnivores (eat bugs and vegetation) love pellets, so it’s a challenge for the other animals when 20 or 30 of them are in the garden when we toss the pellets. We do not hand feed, nor do we ever touch the animals.

The sound from the Go-Away birds always makes us laugh.

We visited with Louise and Danie for a few hours, enjoying every moment. They informed us of the plan to have a “pot luck” braai or “bring your own meat” braai at Frikkee’s Dam this morning at 11:30. Low on food and supplies, with a plan to grocery shop on Tuesday, I was challenged to make and bring to the event.

In past events at Frikkee’s Dam, I have always made a big pan of Brunch Eggs, using eggs, meats, cheese, and vegetables I had on hand. Today, with plenty of eggs, I made the dish with precooked, fat removed, back bacon, onions, and 18 jumbo eggs. It’s cooking now as I write here.

The Brunch Eggs should be done by 11:15 am. We’ll wrap it up and be on our way to Liosnpsruit, the game reserve within Marloth Park where lions, Desi, and Fluffy reside, along with many other animals we hope to see while there. We’ve yet to see the lions, as is the case for most residents of Marloth Park. But, on many nights, since Lionspruit backs up to the rear edge of our holiday-home property line, we can hear them roar. It’s music to our ears.

This group of four Go-Away birds seems to hang out together each day. Three wait in the tree while one drinks and baths in the birdbath.

The timer on my FitBit is about to go off reminding me to take the Brunch Eggs out of the oven, wrap them up and be on our way. We’re bringing our two camp chairs, beverages, paper plates, napkins, and a spatula to scoop out portions. This dish is great finger food since its firm when fully cooked and holds together while eating.

That’s it for today, dear readers. Again, thanks to everyone for their considerate and kind comments and email messages supporting our up-and-coming trip to the US in less than two months, as a temporary waylay in our world travel journey while Covid-19 hopefully settles down throughout the world.

Be well.

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

One year ago, photos were posted while in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #159, from the Museum of Natural History in South Kensington, England, in 2014.  Insect displays in the Charles Darwin research area of the museum. For more photos, please click here.

It’s heating up!…Insects are back…

Bossy is always thrilled to see us, hoping for morsels of pellets.

When it’s winter in South Africa, generally the weather is cool, at times, even cold requiring jackets and warm clothes. But now, as winter rolls into spring as shown on these dates below, its already begun to feel warm and humid:

“Spring 2021 in Southern Hemisphere will begin on
Wednesday, 22 September

and ends on

Tuesday, 21 December
All dates are in South Africa Standard Time.”
Spring is warmer in Africa than it may be in many other parts of the world in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Last night for the first time this season, we had to turn on the air-con when we went to bed. Although the previous few days were hot, running in the 90F, 32C, we only used the fan. But, last night felt more humid and air-con was a must if we wanted to get some sleep.
Over the next several days, cooler temps are predicted. This morning when I was baking a batch of lemon-poppy seed muffins for Tom and low-carb lemon poppy seeds muffins for Louise and Danie, I was sweating for the first time in months when the kitchen got hot from the oven being on for a few hours.
Once the weather warms and the humidity rises, insects literally come out of the woodwork. In the past several days we’ve seen several huge spiders in the house, with flies and mosquitos buzzing around our heads day and night. Again, in the evenings while sitting outdoors, we now need to use insect coils and citronella candles.
Kudus and bushbucks stopping by.
In warmer weather, we keep an eye out for possible venomous insects that may have entered the house. So far, so good. Last night, I saw the biggest gecko I’ve ever seen on the bedroom wall, more the size of a lizard than a gecko. They are harmless and don’t cause any concern.
For those who are sensitive to heat with limited air-con options and are terrified of insects, Africa would not be the best place to visit during the warmer months. The cool months of winter would be better such as May, June, July, and generally, August when insect repellent isn’t as necessary as during the warmer months. As of the past few days, I have been using repellent when I’ve noticed some mozzies here and there.
One can never be too safe using repellent regularly in malaria-prone areas as shown in this map below:

Obviously, where we are near Kruger National Park as shown in the right-mid portion on this map is considered a high-risk area. As mentioned in an earlier post, our dear friend, Alan, lost his wife to malaria a few years ago and he was deathly ill for months. It should never be taken lightly.

We do not take prophylactic malaria medication since there are potential side effects when taken long-term. For short-term tourist visits, we’d highly recommend that tourists check with their doctors or local travel clinic for guidance in this regard. When we first came to Africa in 2013, we took malaria medication for eight months, the longest we ever had. As we spent more and more time on the continent we decided to forgo taking the medication.

In total, we’ve been in Africa for almost three years of the almost nine years we’ve been traveling. Our anniversary date is coming up on October 31, 2021. It’s hard for us to believe we’ve been traveling for so long, minus the 10-month interruption while in lockdown in India last year.

Speaking of which, we’ve had a fantastic response to our published newspaper article that came out a day ago. Here is the article,  in case you missed it yesterday, which we posted on our site at this link. We appreciate all the emails and comments we received from readers throughout the world in support of our experiences.

You all mean so much to us. We appreciate how our worldwide readers have continued to follow our posts, year after year through many quiet and uneventful periods, especially since the onset of Covid-19 which had certainly put a damper on our journey for now. Hopefully, once we’ve completed our next upcoming visit to the US, we’ll be able to move on to more exciting and adventurous times.

In the interim, stay safe, stay healthy and please continue to hang in there with us.

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

This photo from the natural history museum in South Kensington, England in 2014, was posted while in lockdown for 10 months while in Mumbai, India on day #158. A lizard that puffs up the frill around the neck to scare off predators. This could be intimidating, to say the least. For more photos, please click here.

Here’s the latest newspaper story about us!…

Former Chanhassen couple spends 10 months under lockdown at hotel in India

By Lydia Christianson lchristianson@swpub.com
    12 hrs ago

More information

Here’s the link to the article as shown here today:

Learn more about the travels of Jess and Tom Lyman at worldwidewaftage.com

The Lymans

Jess and Tom Lyman have been traveling around the world for nearly nine years.

Jess and Tom Lyman, former residents of Chanhassen, have been traveling the world for almost nine years.

Nothing “short of death” has been able to put a stop to their adventuring, not even Jess’s emergency open-heart surgery, performed in South Africa in 2019.

But then, COVID-19 hit.

The Lymans were visiting the U.S. in January 2020 when they first got wind of COVID-19. They were leaving to travel in India, so were sure to pack N99 masks to combat the smog. Little did they know they’d also be using them for other purposes.

The couple took a week-long trip on the Maharaja Express, getting off along the way to take tours. It was the first week of February when the train ended and the Lymans had scheduled a private tour of India that included driving and flying.

“It was an extraordinary experience that it was just the two of us,” Jess said. “We were having the time of our lives.”

In March, the couple learned a cruise they had booked, which had prompted them to go to India in the first place, was canceled due to COVID-19. At that point, they decided to cancel the tour and go back to Mumbai.

The Lymans checked into a hotel that was already holding some of their luggage. They booked a flight to Johannesburg so they could get to Marloth Park, a wildlife sanctuary positioned on the southern boundary of the Kruger National Park in South Africa.

Arriving at the airport at 3 a.m. for a red-eye out of Mumbai, they found out South Africa was closing its borders. The Lymans headed back to a hotel they stayed at in January, only to find out it was closing a couple days later due to the pandemic. But, the hotel had arranged another place for them to stay.

“Hotels were closing so rapidly you wouldn’t believe it. It was like doors slamming one after another,” Jess said.

Upon arriving, not only had the hotel never heard of them, they were closing the next morning. The Lymans had nowhere to go but tried to remain calm. They stayed in the hotel lobby for several hours searching for hotels or vacation homes, with the help of the concierge.

“He said the only hotels I can find for you, are those that have COVID patients, because there’s no room in the hospitals for them,” Jess said.

The Lymans

The Lymans were traveling in India before a nationwide lockdown was announced.

Lockdown begins

Finally, the concierge found a hotel near the airport that they could stay at for the night. The hotel said they were open, but couldn’t make any guarantees for how long, Jess said. It was March 24, the day a nationwide lockdown was ordered.

The Lymans spent 10 months living at the hotel.

One of the restrictions of the lockdown involved a ban of alcohol sales. The hotel staff came into their room to empty out the mini-fridge. The couple was also told they couldn’t go down to the hotel restaurant and that their food would be delivered to the room.

Neither of the Lymans eat Indian food. Tom is a “picky eater” so he ate chicken penne pasta every night for dinner for eight months. Jess ate salmon and chicken on rotation for dinner for all 10 months.

“I haven’t had a piece of salmon since we got out of there,” Jess said, with a laugh.

The Lymans weren’t supposed to go outside, because the hotel didn’t want them bringing COVID-19 back with them. However, they were allowed to walk around the floor they were staying on. Jess would walk five miles through the corridors while Tom walked the stairs.

Mumbai hotel
A screen capture of the view from the Lyman’s Mumbai hotel from a video Jess posted. The video of her walk through the hotel corridors can be found at bit.ly/hotelcorridor.

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

This photo from this date in 2014, posted one year ago while in lockdown in Mumbai, India on day #157.My dinner at Bella Italia of two small chicken breasts in a pot of red sauce with a side of grilled vegetables. For more, please click here.

Fantastic outing this morning…An old friend visits the garden…

Notice the little spoked tuft of hair on the top of the email duiker’s head. So adorable.

Yes, it’s a late start to today’s post. This morning at 9:00, Tom dropped me off outside Louise and Danie’s Info Centre, and friend Kathy picked me up. We headed to her favorite morning spot, Stoep Cafe, located on the main street in Komatipoort. Years ago, Tom and I went there every so often for breakfast. But, as of late, neither of us has been hungry for breakfast, and we haven’t stopped there at all since we arrived in January.

Once Kathy and I arrived at Stoep Cafe, Kathy’s regular table was waiting for her. She’s a frequent customer, and I was thrilled to share this particular time with her. This was the first time it had been just the two of us since she arrived in early July, and we couldn’t have been more chatty in catching up after not seeing each other much in the past two years, mainly due to Covid-19.

Old Man wasn’t looking his best.

The time flew by, and before we knew it, we were back at Louise’s parking lot where Tom was waiting for me after I’d sent him a message on WhatsApp. Kathy and I said our goodbyes, knowing we’d see each other again soon, while Tom and I entered the Info Centre to chat with Louis and Danie. As always, it was delightful to see the two of them, as well.

After sharing interesting tidbits about our mutual days and nights since seeing them for dinner a week ago, Tom and I headed back to our bush house to find several animals waiting for us in the garden, including an old friend from before we left for the US at the end of June, two wildebeests, Hal and his constant partner, Old Man, who must be the oldest wildebeest in Marloth Park.

Upon further inspection, we noticed his face and stunted horns were covered in mud.

As shown in today’s photos, taken only a short time ago, Old Man was a mess this time. His face and stubby horns, obviously diminished in size due to years of use, were covered in mud. We couldn’t help but laugh but, then again, we were saddened to see how he improvises in digging up roots for consumption, using the stubby horns he’s acquired over the years.

Tom tossed them several containers of pellets and paid attention to the several bushbucks in the garden along with one adorable female duiker, as shown in the photos.  Duikers are very shy, and the slightest noise or motion will send them off in seconds into the bush, never to be seen again.

Whenever Old Man visits he brings this younger wildebeest with him that may be his son or even grandson whom we call “Hal.”

Gingerly, Tom sent some pellets her way, and for the first time in a long time, I was able to take a photo of a duiker, especially a female with her adorable little tuft of hair on the center of her head, as shown in our photo and described here from this site:

“The common duiker has many common names, including common, grey, and Grimm’s duiker. The name ‘duiker’ is derived from the Afrikaans word ‘duik’ meaning ‘to dive’ due to its characteristic porpoising flight pattern. Common duiker is identifiable by their slate grey color, which in some areas varies to include shades of red and yellow. They have a tuft of dark hair between the horns, or just on the head in the case of the females as horns are absent, and a dark stripe down the center of the face. The preorbital glands in front of the eyes are conspicuous and exude a tarry secretion probably used in scent marking. Unlike steenbok, they tend to live in areas with lots of bushy covers, who prefer open areas. It is into this cover that they dart and dive when disturbed. They have excellent hearing, which alerts them to disturbances.”

A wildebeest’s eyes are high up on his face. Notice Old Man’s eyes by zooming in. Obviously, Old Man wasn’t having a great day.

With only 56 days until we depart Marloth Park, South Africa. It was fun to be taking new photos of less common sightings when we consider how tired many of our readers may become of the endless flow of frequent sightings. We are especially mindful of every photo and story we post in the future.

Before we know it, our photos will be from Arizona, USA where we’ll always be on the search for new and exciting photos. It won’t always be easy without wildlife surrounding us but, as always, we’ll do our best.

Tonight, we’ll stay in and enjoy a quiet day and evening with our animal friends. We’ll listen to more music on our new speaker as mentioned in yesterday’s post, quietly enough to avoid disturbing the wildlife and any distant neighbors. Since yesterday, we learned more about the Bluetooth speaker. We paired it with both our phones and laptops. Now, anything we watch or listen to, can be broadcast, loud and clear, a big boon for Tom’s hearing issues and also, when some streaming shows have a low volume, that previously required that we use a splitter to wear earbuds. Nice.

Have a pleasant day!

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

This photo was posted one year ago today while in lockdown in Mumbai, India on day #156. Although our room was larger than a ship cabin, it was small as shown in this photo. For more photos, please click here.

Excited about a new product…A must share with all of you…

This is my new toy, A JBL Bluetooth speaker that works with voice activation from my phone. The sound is fantastic!

A week ago Saturday, we went to Alan and Fiona’s house for dinner here in the park. We were seated on the veranda enjoying fantastic “starters” suitable for my way of eating (Alan also eats low-carb) and watching the animals come to their garden for pellets, as they do to ours.

We sipped on our chosen beverages while engaging in lively and animated conversation. The weather was cool but not uncomfortably so, and as the evening wore on, Fiona handed me a wooly blanket which sufficed until we went indoors after dark for the main course. The dinner was delicious and prepared perfectly.

As we embraced the calm of the evening, especially when we were outdoors. Suddenly I heard music emanating from inside the house. I recognized Andrea Bocelli’s melodic voice in the background, so clear and concise. It sounded as if he was right there. I mentioned this to Alan, and he jumped up to show us both where the music was coming from.

In his house, on a shelf was a small device, a JBL Flip Essential Speaker, that spewed out music as if it was coming from a powerful built-in sound system, similar to that we experienced at son Richard’s home in Henderson, Nevada. We were blown away when he suggested we ask “Alexa” to play a favorite song. In seconds, the music wafted through the air from speakers appropriately placed in the ceilings of every room in his house.

Now keep in mind that we’ve been “out of the loop” for many years, and although we were well aware of such technology, we didn’t have the “home” or suitable environment for such technology in our lives. Although, I have  particularly enjoyed talking to my Google phone, saying, “Hey, Google, play a song or do this or that.” That technology alone makes me squeal with delight.

Then, in the past six months when I had my FitBit Sense and found I can talk to it as well, reading texts, WhatsApp messages, and incoming phone calls, again, I found myself tickled with the technology, using it often, especially for setting timers needed for cooking, by simply saying to the app on my Fitbit, for example, “Set a timer for 10 minutes.” Ten minutes later, my Fitbit vibrates, reminding me the timer is up. I use this feature almost every day.

I didn’t bother to read the included easy instructions that came in its box. All I did was have my phone pair with the device via Bluetooth, and voila! We had music!

But music? I’ve missed it. In our old lives, we had an older but high-quality “stereo system” from the 1980s that blasted out great music any time we’d like, but of course, wasn’t Bluetooth enabled to perform like systems of today. We had parties with music playing in the background, quiet romantic dinners with music playing in the background, and busy times performing tasks around the house with music playing in the background. I’ve missed those times.

So, when Alan showed us a birthday gift he received from his son, which plays music in a manner comparable to a major sound system, I was particularly enthralled. He explained how he could “tell” his phone to play a song or album on the “free” version of YouTube Music, and seconds later, the song(s) were emanating clearly from the little device.

Within minutes, I checked South Africa’s local equivalency of Amazon, Takealot, found the device, and ordered it without flinching. It was priced at ZAR 1999, US $133.80. Yesterday afternoon, Vusi dropped off the package containing the device I had shipped to Louise and Danie’s office. If you are in the US, you can purchase this product for ZAR 1478, US $99, at this link on Amazon.com. (Imported items always cost more in South Africa). (It’s too difficult for delivery trucks to get to our house on the bumpy roads).

We opened the package, charged the device, and within a few hours, it was fully charged using the orange USB cord plugged into my laptop. It took me less than five minutes to set up the Bluetooth connection with my Google Android phone. It works with Bluetooth on most brands of smartphones. We suggest you check online to see if it’s compatible with your phone.

Moments later, I told my phone using voice activation, “Hey Google,” to play Barry White’s old song, “Can’t Get Enough of Your Love.” It didn’t have to have the YouTube app open! The music played, clear as a bell bringing both of us down “memory lane.” Time after time, we requested old favorites. The lousy mood I’d been in for days wafted away. The music was such a boon to my state of mind.

Our dinner company arrived promptly at 4:30, Kathy and Don and Linda and Ken,  while I had an “oldie” playing. I couldn’t wait to show off my new toy. I only left it on for a few minutes. We had lots of catching up and didn’t want the music to drown out the conversation. Everyone shook their heads in wonder over my enthusiasm, and we went on to have a lovely dinner and evening in the bush, entertained by the great conversation and an endless stream of wildlife visitors.

With the 2200 hrs, 10:00 pm curfew in Marloth Park, the evening ended early. Tom did dishes while I cleaned up, and before too long, we were off to bed for a good night’s sleep.

We highly recommend this product if you’ve been longing for great-sounding music, whether or not you have Alexa, “Hey, Google,” or any other voice-activated phone that is compatible. It can also be used with laptops, tablets, and other devices, but I’ve yet to give that a try, so I can’t guarantee anything.

We’ll be “dancin’ to the music” yet again this evening as sunset falls. Of course, not too loudly. After all, it’s intended to be quiet in the bush.

Happy day!

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

One year ago, this photo was posted in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day#155, halfway through our confinement in the hotel. This building in London is the  Royal British Society of Sculptors. For more, please click here.

A sorrowful year-ago post…

Big Daddy, as seen on the trail cam last night.

The past few days, I haven’t been my usual cheerful self. I blamed it on taking antibiotics for my bad tooth, the one that had a root canal done by Dr. Singh in Malalane almost two months ago, and still hurts when I brush my teeth. He explained a week ago, if the antibiotics don’t work, I will have to have the tooth pulled. Today is day three of five on the pills, and I’m not experiencing relief as yet.

The Imposter trying to get comfortable to take a nap with his tusks in the way.

Usually, by the third day of taking antibiotics, one often begins to feel relief from their infection. Although I prefer to get optimistic, at this point, my optimism is fading fast. Sure, losing a tooth isn’t a big deal in the realm of things, especially when it’s the furthest back molar. If it left a gaping hole, it wouldn’t be noticed when I eat, laugh or talk. But, I spent my entire life taking good care of my teeth, and surely this issue is a part of aging more than from a lack of good dental hygiene, facing all of us as we age.

Also, as I’ve pined the past few days since we decided to leave Africa in 58 days, I’ve found myself feeling melancholy, as evidenced in yesterday’s post here. This is quite unusual for me, when most of the time, I am upbeat and cheerful. Then today, when I reread the post of my dear sister Susan’s passing while we were in lockdown in India, it dawned on me that I have been grieving her loss all over again.

Spikey is too cute for words. He stops by several times a day often with his mom.

Many experience a resurgence of grief on the anniversary of their loved one’s passing. In actuality, she passed away on August 16th, but I didn’t write the tribute to her until August 24th. When she died, I was caught up in our new site going live and its many issues in the process, and oddly, I kept some of my emotions at bay until the site was working and I could allow myself to grieve. I did so writing this post, dated one year ago today.

And today, as I  began to reread it, I asked Tom to let me read it aloud to him. I did so while he waited patiently, while I stopped several times, overcome with tears, in an attempt to continue. Sharing this with Tom, once again, helped me so much. When I was done, I felt better already.

Mr, Hornbill doesn’t stay still long enough for a good photo, but we’re happy to see him and his three companions several times a day.

I knew that the sadness I’ve been feeling these past several days had everything to do with losing Susan, coupled with the knowledge and acceptance of leaving Marloth Park in less than two months, and little to do with taking antibiotics and the prospect of losing a tooth. It’s funny how we do that. We cry over something insignificant when, in fact, we’re crying over something else, something big, something meaningful.

So, now I’ve shaken myself off, so to speak, and put on my “big girl pants,” and I am getting ready for tonight’s dinner party here at our house in the bush. There will only be the six of us, Kathy and Don and Linda and Ken since Rita and Gerhard are yet to return from their trip. But, six is ideal for the small table and accommodates the sparse number of matching dishes in this house.

It’s always delightful to see a young-growing “Big Daddy.”

It will be a leisurely dinner, not typical of “the olden days,” where I prepped and cooked for hours. We’ll start with easy appetizers during sundowners, and dinner will consist of bacon-wrapped filet mignon, baked potatoes with sour cream, vegetables, and salad. The evening will end with the choice of a dozen ice cream bars we purchased yesterday at the little store. Easy peasy.

Once the table is cleared, Tom will do the dishes, and my work will be done. Right now, this suits me just fine. Linda and Ken are leaving soon to return to the UK and may not return for a while, not unlike us. Kathy and Don will return to their home in Hawaii for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. Rita and Gerhard are leaving within a week for Germany to see family. Most of all, we’re looking forward to spending time with our friends tonight and avoiding being trapped in the kitchen.

Looking for morsels of food.

The uncertainty of travel in times of Covid-19 has impacted us all. We are not unique in our decision to return to the place in the world that feels the safest and provides us all with a degree of comfort and peace of mind, coupled with future time spent with family and friends wherever they may be.

So that’s it, dear readers. I need to get back to a few remaining tasks for tonight’s dinner. It’s a beautiful day and should remain comfortable well into the evening.

Enjoy your day and be well.

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

This flower was posted one year ago today, in a tribute I wrote to my sister Susan who passed away a few days earlier while we were in lockown on day #154. Aptly, named a” bleeding heart..”  If you missed this post or would like to reread it, please click here.

Hahaha, it’s so busy in the garden, I can’t get anything done!!!…It was almost two years ago…Can’t stop thinking about it…

Broken Horn is persistent about pellets, scaring off any intruders with his horns.

I am sitting at the big table on the veranda and can’t stop laughing. There are so many animals stopping by I can hardly type a word for today’s post. Between Little, Broken Horn, ThickNeck/BadLeg, Spikey, and his mom, 25 helmeted guinea fowls, Frank, Go-Away birds, and other warthogs and bushbucks, I can’t sit still long enough to type a word.  I keep getting up for more pellets and seeds.

The sights and sounds of the bush grab my attention, especially knowing that in 59 days, we will be leaving South Africa, unsure as to when we’ll return. It could be one year. It could be two. It’s all subject to what transpires with Covid-19. We do know that beyond the end of February, after friends Karen and Rich’s wedding in Florida, whether or not our cruises to Japan sail or not, we will be leaving the US to continue on our journey.

A few Go-Away birds have been hanging around for days. We love their funny sounds.

Of course, if Covid continues to rage throughout the world, and if there is nowhere safe or without restrictions for us to visit, we may have to rethink the possibility of plans outside the US. The alternative has been our long-range plan to travel to the US, and in the worst case, the time to do that may be coming sooner rather than later. At this point, we don’t have a clue.

As for most of us, Covid-19 determines our future fate, especially regarding travel. We’ve often thought about renting an RV to eventually travel the US when we were getting too old for long-distance travel, hauling heavy bags, and flying on countless red-eye flights. Is the handwriting on the wall and that time maybe sooner than we’d hoped?

This tiny bushbuck couldn’t have been more than a month old but already knew about pellets. Her mom is in the background.

Now, as the days tick away for us to leave Africa, where we’ll be soon, looms heavily on my mind. It will be less than two years ago that we stayed in Apache Junction with Tom’s sisters. We particularly loved the days and evenings we spent with them, socializing and having fun.

But, the days in-between those delightfully fun social interactions were hard for me. It reminded me too much of what our lives would be like if we gave up our journey and settled somewhere in the US. After all we’ve seen and done, such a thought is far removed from our reality. The trips to the supermarket, Walgreens, Target, the bank, and more remind me of a life I struggle to embrace at this point.

Bossy and Broken Horn, together in the garden.

We never imagined our life of world travel would end due to a pandemic. Who imagined they’d lose their jobs, work from home, home school their kids, and wear face masks every time they stepped out the door? Who imagined their social lives would be small and fraught with worry and concern over “catching” the virus?

Even those of us who are vaccinated are still proceeding with caution in everything we do, everywhere we go, when the media and even science continue to throw us curve balls on what we can and can’t do, what is safe for ourselves, and our family. Will a booster jab be necessary? No one seems to know for sure. When will the numbers come down? Are the numbers real or exaggerated? None of us knows for sure. We live in a constant state of limbo.

Lots of pigs in the garden!

Many of our friends who usually spend time in Marloth Park never came here, frightened of their fate, their safety. Are we no different in deciding to leave when we don’t even know if it’s safer in the US or not? Based on the stats from Worldometer, the US is still in the #1 spot on the list of countries. Why would we assume it’s safer there?

Arizona, where we’re going in 59 days, is listed in the 12th position out of 56 states and US territories. There’s a large senior population in Arizona.  From the web:

“The number of elderly (persons over the age of sixty years) in Arizona will grow from a current level of around 900,000 in 2000, representing some 18 percent of the population to 1.8 million and 24 percent in 2020 and almost three million and 26 percent of the population in 2050.”

If 24% of the current population in Arizona is senior citizens, what percentage of those are recent cases of Covid-19?

From this article:

Arizona’s older population could mean more COVID-19 deaths.

That’s a higher share of the elderly than some states that have so far seen larger outbreaks than Arizona. About 18.6% of people in California are over age 60, 19.1% in Colorado, 20.6% in Washington, and 21.2% in New York.

“Those that are over the age of 60 or those that have other significant medical issues are the ones most likely to suffer that mortality rate from COVID-19,” Dr. Marjorie Bessel, chief clinical officer for Banner Health, said. “The age of a country or a state or even a town will determine the death rate.”

One Wart, a regular visitor to the garden.

No, we don’t dwell on this every day. Of course, we will continue to avoid a sense of doomsday and be optimistic for the future. But now, as the time to return to the US nears, it’s unavoidable to free ourselves of such thoughts when we are out in public and at gatherings, just as we’ve done here in Marloth Park.

And, as I sit here today, surrounded by our wildlife friends, I already feel the sense of loss I’ll feel leaving here. If it weren’t for the necessity of leaving every 90 days for a visa stamp, undoubtedly, we’d have stayed longer.  But, without a doubt, we’ll have a good time in Apache Junction, Arizona, with Tom’s siblings and then on to Florida for the wedding.

Life goes on. Thank God for that!!!

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

One year ago, this photo was posted in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #153. This is St. Mary’s church in Bampton, known as Church of St. Michael of All Angels, as shown in the series Downton Abbey, where Mary married Matthew, Edith was jilted at the altar, and eventually, Matthew was buried. For more photos, please click here.

Day #5, water is back!!!…Yeah, what a relief…

With no water and unable to refill the birdbath with clean water, Benny (of Benny, Henny, Lenny, and Penny) decided to drink from the pool. We’d never seen a warthog do this.

During the night, the reservoirs began to refill, then the pipes to the houses filled, and this morning we had water. It felt great to take a hot shower, although the water pressure was still a little low. By the end of the day, pressure should return to normal, and we’ll be good to go.

The dishwasher will be running most of the day with the accumulated dishes we had from the first day when we tried to cook without water. We gave up the next day and dined out for the duration except for today when we’re “back in business.”

Broken Horn was sharing pellets for a change when we had nine warthogs in the garden yesterday. (Not all nine are shown in the photo).

According to Eskom, the electric company who made the repairs, we may experience some outages during the week when they fine-tune the repairs. Hopefully, that won’t result in a day-long outage. Being without water for four whole days wasn’t easy, but it was easier than being without electricity and WiFi.

Without power, we constantly have to deal with keeping the food in the fridge and freezer safe to consume until the power is restored. We can’t do our posts, stream shows, or entertain ourselves in the evenings without WiFi. The daylight hours are much easier when we can go to Kruger or sit outdoors with our animal visitors, But, at night, without lights and streaming, we’re subject to playing dumb games on our phones which gets boring quite fast.

There were warthogs everywhere but no Tiny.

Without power or water, cooking is a challenge. It feels unsanitary to prepare food without being able to clean up afterward. Although we have the gas braai for cooking meat, we have an electric range. Last night, without water at dinnertime, I ate a small piece of leftover meatloaf, heated in the microwave, and a salad. Tom ended up ordering takeaway from Bos restaurant, ordering chicken tenders and chips (fries).

Today, worried about ingredients spoiling after not cooking for days, I knew I had to make low-carb pizza for Tom. In contrast, I’ll have grilled chicken breast, skilpadjies (Skilpadjies is a traditional South African food, also known by other names such as muise and vlermuise. The dish is lamb’s liver wrapped in netvet (caul fat), the fatty membrane surrounding the kidneys) and salad. I know this doesn’t sound very good, but it’s pretty delicious.

Little often comes to the side of the veranda. This way, he doesn’t have to share pellets with many others.

There will be enough food to last us through Tuesday. I always enjoy making meals to last for days, allowing me to have some days where I don’t have to cook at all. We only heat up what I’ve prepared. As much as I enjoyed cooking in our old lives, I don’t enjoy it so much anymore.

Cooking for three days is an easy solution to being able to cook less often, even though it takes more time on the day we prepare the food. Tom helps a lot. Today, he grated cheese for the pizza and has done all the food prep and dirty dishes from the past five days.

Little is afraid of One Tusk. Whenever One Tusk arrives, Little takes off, as do many other warthogs.

We no longer purchase pre-grated cheese when unnecessary chemicals are used in the preparation of the product. Also, buying grated cheese prevents us from knowing the source of the cheese. We purchase high-quality aged cheese, which Tom always grates by hand and also does the messy clean-up.

Currently, free from kitchen tasks, Tom is watching the Minnesota Vikings pre-season game on his laptop, using the “NFL Gamepass,” which only allows viewing from outside the US. He’s been using this app for the past almost nine years, and it has served him well. The price for this service is now ZAR 1515, US $99 a year, when it was much higher when he began using it.

A lone mongoose positions herself with a birdseye view of what we’re doing, in hope of more food being offered. Here again, we’re here to please.

It’s a quiet day in the bush. We haven’t had as many visitors today as we did yesterday. Mostly, we’ve seen the usual bushbucks and a few groups of warthogs. Frank has been by a few times without The Misses, and three of our four usual hornbills banged on the window for seeds. We complied, of course, as always.

Enjoy your Sunday wherever you may be!

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

With our new site going live during this period last year, we could not post on this date. As a result, there were no photos on this day while in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #152.  Please check back tomorrow for this feature.