When does this ever happen?…

We spotted this giraffe in the parking lot at the medical clinic when we stopped by for PRC tests required for us to travel tomorrow.

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There’s never a time we aren’t in awe of wildlife in Marloth Park and yesterday was no exception. We drove into the parking lot of the medical clinic for our PCR tests in the park, and lo and behold. A giraffe was in the parking lot. We couldn’t help but laugh when both of us said simultaneously, “When would you ever see a giraffe in the doctor’s office parking lot?”

We looked at one another, and Tom said, “Never before in my lifetime.”

We had our tests, and a short while later, when we exited the building, the giraffe was still there, munching on the treetops of what appeared to be lush and green. Giraffes’ food sources are more abundant during the dry winter months when they only have to share, instead of hundreds of herbivore animals living off green vegetation close to the ground.

Kudus, taller than most wildlife, can reach portions of greenery on trees within their reach, but in no time at all, those sources disappear during the dry winter months. At this point, we hardly see any options for the kudus, wildebeests, impalas, duikers, and others in the antelope family.

Warthogs love to eat grasses, indigenous plants, and bushes, and roots they dig up with their tusks and snouts. With the ground dry and hard-packed, the option to dig up roots is slim to none this time of year. No wonder they and the other grazers are frequently hovering around bush houses in hopes of human-provided sustenance in the way of pellets, sweet potatoes, vegetable scraps, carrots, apples, and bananas.

Warthogs are picky about vegetables. They never eat cabbage, lettuce, or other leafy greens and often turn up their noses when we offer them carrots. The other antelope will eat any of the fruits mentioned above and vegetables. Bushbucks and kudus particularly love cabbage, and we often buy a few giant heads to share with them.

Here’s a “Little” look-alike with two oxpeckers cleaning his ears. Very funny! He also looked as if he was in a trance.

Today, we’re packing and getting as much done as possible. While we’re away, Vusi and Zef will do a “spring cleaning” on the house. It will be spotless when we return on October 26th to begin our remaining 90 days in Marloth Park until we depart on January 23rd.

Knowing they would be doing the spring clean, along with defrosting the refrigerator, we washed towels and organized spaces to ensure there was less clutter than usual. Although we both are tidy, we often have our digital equipment, suitcases, and various items sitting out. We’re not exempt from having some clutter.

We’ve eaten most of the food in the refrigerator with only a small amount remaining in the freezer, which we’ll drop off to Louise later today to store in her big freezer.

Twice this morning, Tom headed to the carwashes for a total clean on the rental car for tomorrow’s return when we arrive at the Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport. There are two carwashes in Marloth Park, one of which was closed today and the other on both occasions, busy cleaning trucks and other vehicles. Tom would have had to wait for hours. Instead, we paid Vusi extra, over and above the tips, we tendered for both of them, for him to do the thorough car cleaning.  He’s outside now wrapping it up. We do not doubt that he’ll do an exceptional job.

Are we excited about going to Zambia now that we aren’t doing the expensive cruise on the river? We are. The short flight is no longer than the drive to the airport. We already know about the quality of the hotel when we’ve stayed there twice in the past and feel good about returning. There are several restaurants we’ve enjoyed in the past which we’ll visit once again.

The oxpeckers went after Thick Neck also. He got a glazed look on his face when they started cleaning off his hide.

Once situated, we may decide on a few sightseeing venues we are looking into now. We’ve already experienced the significant events the area has to offer, but we may choose a few remaining highlights, depending on availability while we are there.

At the moment, Tom is checking us in on tomorrow’s flight. Soon, we’ll hear back on our PCR tests, and as the day progresses, we’ll wrap up our packing, which is minimal for this five-day trip.

We won’t be posting tomorrow until later in the day, once we’re situated at our hotel in Livingstone, Zambia. Thus, the post may appear four or five hours later than usual.

Have a super day!

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

This full-body shot of the Gold Dust Day Gecko shows the colorful spots on her back and the cute little blue fingers. This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #211. For more photos, please click here.

Facing the facts and the potential risks…Recalling one year ago…Two days and counting…

This morning while I was in the kitchen, I saw Broken Horn in the front of the house in the driveway. With the kitchen windows closed (no screens), I called out his name. I ran to the back garden to see if he heard me and came around the back. This is what we saw, making us laugh out loud. He peeked his head around the side of the house to see if we were there. How can we not love these clever animals? 

We’ve been discussing the possibility, which exists, that South Africa won’t let us use our new visa stamps for another 90 days. The laws surrounding this are vague and unclear. When we’ve left in the past, on one occasion, we were told we couldn’t “do this again” without applying for an extension.

Yesterday, four wildebeests stopped by (without Broken Horn, who is a loner), and after a long while, we finally saw Crooked Face and Hal along with two friends, Bart and Ben.

With a lack of support staff at South Africa’s immigration department, due to Covid-19, applying for an extension would be a waste of time. The only guarantee that we’d be able to get back in is if we flew back to the US and turned around and came back. But, we didn’t want to wear ourselves out for a quick return with little to no sleep for the two to three-day journey each way.

Although we’re flying to a non-bordering country as required, we may not be staying away long enough. But, the necessary time to be in another country is unclear. We’re taking a risk with five days. We knew the risk existed when we booked the five nights in Zambia.

It’s an anomaly that Crooked Face has a crooked face, but he’s delightful nonetheless.

What could potentially happen if they disapprove of our re-entry? From what we’ve determined, we could be told to immediately leave the country or be given seven days to collect our stuff and leave. With this in mind, it was imperative that we discuss our options if we only have seven days to clear out.

Wildebeests make eye contact and react to our presence. Zebras, on the other hand, rarely make eye contact.

No, we’re not trying to be pessimistic about the situation, but we attempt to be realistic to avoid being shocked or terrified by this possibility. We won’t have everything we own with us. We’re each only bringing a duffle bag with some of our clothing. We’ll need to return to epack the remainder of our stuff. Five days away doesn’t warrant more than that.

Most people find the wildebeest, also known as a gnu, to be quite homely. We find them to be quite handsome.

We haven’t overstayed at any point since we arrived here last January. The only time we overstayed was when I had open-heart surgery in February 2019, and we had to wait 90 days for me to recover sufficiently to fly on the long flights. At that time, as mentioned in past posts, we were considered undesirables even with all of our doctor’s letters and medical documents. We wouldn’t have been able to reenter South Africa for five years.

We decided to hire a law firm in SA to represent us in getting a waiver; After considerable time, paperwork and expense, we were granted a waiver allowing us to return at any time. We were relieved and grateful to have the ban lifted.

They stayed for quite a while, partaking in our generous offering of pellets.

So, now, with a sense of uncertainty, we are off to Zambia in two days. Today, at 2:00 pm, we head to the Marloth Park medical clinic for Covid-19 PCR tests, another of which we’ll be required to get before leaving Zambia on October 26th. The Marriott hotel will make the arrangement for us to get the tests in hand before we depart.

On another note, today, while preparing the “year ago photo below,” I ended up rereading the entire post here, It was day #210, and our frustration level was over the top. The inconsistency of the taste, portions and preparation of our meals was outrageously inconsistent.

They interact freely with one another, giving little nudges and making body contact in a caring manner.

It was on this date that Tom decided to stop eating dinner. He couldn’t eat one more night of chicken penne pasta with white sauce. There were no other options he wanted to try when the flavor was Indian flavored, even without added species and sauces. It’s hard to believe at that point that we still had three more months to go until we could escape.

Wildebeests are large animals weighing as much as 180 kg, 400 pounds, and one must maintain a safe distance. They don’t appear aggressive but can inadvertently injure humans with their massive horns and weight.

I started packing this morning and will wrap it up tomorrow.  Tom will pack his bag tomorrow. We have jeans drying outdoors on the veranda since they’d never dry inside in three days on the rack with the high humidity and delightfully cool weather. It’s hot in Zambia right now, and we will pack accordingly. No jackets and sweatshirts will be required for this trip.

That’s it for today, dear readers. We hope you all have a relaxed and comfortable day.

Be well.

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

This photo of Matafoo’s Resort in Kenya was posted one year ago whiile in a hotel in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #210. The sunbathers left as the sun began to set, and we moved to the restaurant for dinner. For more photos, please click here.

Adorable little visitors……Three days and counting…

It appears these chicks are blue waxbills, common to this area. Right now, they are no larger than a pinky finger.

Some of today’s photos were taken through the screen door to the veranda, the only screened door or window we can use. There are a few screens on windows in the house, but most are not tightly fitted and would allow mozzies and other insects to enter.

Nothing like getting inside the container of seeds!

The screen door to the veranda also doesn’t fit tight and has no latch of any kind to close it tightly, allowing insects, Frank, and mongooses to enter the house from time to time.  For security reasons, we lock that screen if we take a short nap and keep the keys in the bedroom with us during the day. We lock the screen door and the sliding glass door at night and set the alarm, again keeping the keys on the nightstand if we need to hit the red button in an emergency.

In total, we saw seven of these little birds.

The screen has metal bars running vertically to prevent potential entry by unwelcomed humans or animals. When we first arrived at the house, the first time we saw Little, he had torn a massive hole in the screen to get indoors. Within days, Louise arranged for Vusi and Zef to repair it. They did an excellent job, as always.

I was listening to Frank squawking in the background.

Thank goodness, Little never tore the screen again, especially now that he knows it’s easy to get our attention, even when we’re indoors like we are now. The current temperature is 61F, 16C, and there’s a bit of a breeze. The humidity is high, and with an occasional drizzle, we’re sitting indoors on the sofa, preferring to avoid getting moisture on our laptops.

Some flew off, but others stayed behind to partake of the seeds.

Sitting on the sofa provides a clear view of the veranda to ensure we don’t miss any visitors that may stop by. Only minutes ago, Tom jumped up to feed Broken Horn pellets and has done the same for the past several hours when nine bushbucks, four kudus, and two warthogs stopped by.

Through the screen, it appeared that mom and dad showed them that it was safe to eat the seeds.

Yesterday. When I took photos of the little birds that stopped by with their parents to eat Frank’s seeds, I knew if I stood up, they’d fly away Gingerly. I picked up the camera and took a few shots through the screen door.

Mom stayed around for a while to make sure the coast was clear.

Of course, I was disappointed with the poor shots through the screen door and was thrilled to see they’d returned this morning. After eating a little, this time without the parents, I decided to open the door wide and see if I could get any shots while quietly sitting on the sofa.

In only a matter of one minute, I got these shots without the obstruction of the screen. But a moment later, the door slammed due to the winds, and they flew off. It was such a delight to get these few shots, although not perfect when I had so little time to focus on the camera.

Dad took a turn ensuring the chick’s safety.

What made the experience all the more enjoyable was, when Frank had just finished eating seeds, the mom, dad, and babies flew in and started working on the seeds. Frank stood no less than a meter away, screeching the entire time. He was mad! We couldn’t stop laughing!

We have no doubt we’ll be able to watch the chicks grow over the next several months. Frank won’t be happy, but we’ll keep the container well stocked this week and then after we return from Zambia on October 26th.

A simple joy, six or seven tiny birds, and one bigger francolin, Frank, made the day special yesterday and then today when they returned. Nature is such a gift. We only need to stop what we’re doing for a few minutes and take a moment to observe, to put a smile on our faces, and brighten our spirits.

Have a bright and fulfilling day.

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

A final view of the King of Jungle as we left Kenya. This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #209. We were never disappointed, continually offering an opportunity for a close-up and the chance to observe their playful antics and instinctual behaviors. Thank you, lions. For more photos, please click here.

An exceptional artist and wildlife conservationist shares his comments on Kruger fires, and samples of his art work…

Photo of the fires across the Crocodile River, taken from Marloth Park side a few nights ago. (Not our photo).

Long ago, I ran across a member of several Marloth Park Facebook groups, Dawie Fourie, a conservationist, wildlife, and nature artist who often posts his stunning works of art. His frequent posts are rife with an appreciation of Marloth Park and its wild animals as well as those in Kruger National Park, both of which he’s visited many times over the years.

Having worked at the Veterinary Research Institute Onderstepoort, he has a vast knowledge and understanding of nature, far beyond average laypersons and amateur photographers like us.  As a professional artist for over 35 years, he’s had an opportunity to delve into the intricacies of many aspects of wildlife and life in the veld (an open, uncultivated country or grassland in southern Africa. It is conventionally divided by altitude into highveld, middleveld, and lowveld).

What a stunning photo of the fires in Kruger National Park. (Not our photo).

A few days ago, when several of our friends sent us photos of fires in Kruger National Park, of course, we became alarmed and concerned for the wildlife as well as the park itself. The Crocodile River separates Marloth Park from Kruger, and thus, we were less concerned about Marloth Park, its people, and its wildlife being impacted by the fires.

When we read the following statement, Dawie had posted on Facebook. It presented us with an entirely different perspective. We’ve been well aware of fires intentionally set In Kruger National Park to create new vegetation for the wildlife when the scorched areas recover and regrow.

We’d driven through Kruger National Park in September 2018, when embers were still burning, and the air was filled with smoke after a planned burn, as described in our post here at this link. We’d included several photos of the devastation that resulted from the burn.

Dozens of photos flooded Facebook during the fires. We are unable to determine who took the photos, but thanks to all who posted. (Not our photo).

After conducting considerable research about intentional fires set in national parks, we developed a better understanding of why such fires, if adequately controlled, are beneficial to the bush and its inhabitants.

In any case, the following is what Dawie Fourie wrote in his Facebook post a few days ago. By the way, I contacted him to ask his permission to quote him and post his photos. He’s enthusiastically offered a generous “yes.” Thank you, Dawie!

“If you live on Seekoei’s side of Marloth Park and I said something about the veld-fires from the last week you will say – tell me all about it! 😑

For days now, there has been a cloud of smoke hanging over Marloth Park as veld fires or bushfires burn in Kruger Park. A lot of people ask the question, why don’t they put out the fires. Well, here’s the very short answer:

Bushfires are very common in African Savannas, especially during the dry season between May and October. Fires in Kruger are managed using the patch mosaic fire philosophy whereby fires are ignited at selected localities and left to burn to create a natural patch mosaic of burnt and unburned patches. The extent of all fires in the Kruger National Park is mapped on a monthly basis using satellite imagery and information gathered by Rangers.

Dawie’s paintings are so exquisite, they appear to be photographs taken by a professional photographer. Contact him at the link below for more information.

These patch fires, although randomly ignited, are closely monitored by the Section Rangers and only ignited under favorable conditions when the Fire Danger Indices (FDI’s) are low to moderate. Patch fires are selectively used to reduce the amount of fuel and to create patches of burnt and unburnt areas. This generally prevents the hot, high-intensity uncontrolled fires from becoming unmanageable later in the season.

Rangers will generally stop setting fires when the FDI’s become too high and conditions too dangerous. This usually happens during August and September when hot berg wind conditions can easily cause fires to run away and turn into disaster fires. Once the rainy season starts, lightning fires may occur, and such fires are allowed to burn freely to allow lightning a chance to contribute as one of the natural sources of fire.

During a fire, the grass layer is often burnt completely. However, only the dead leaves are burnt, whilst the roots are still healthy. The early burns may sometimes resprout, and this green flush during the dry season will benefit certain antelope species. Research also indicates that bush encroachment tree species, such as sickle bush, maybe knocked back by these burns, giving improved game viewing pleasure as a positive spin-off.

Another stunning painting by Dawie Fourie!

Animals can hear, feel and smell a fire when it is still very far away, and most mammals normally have enough time to escape. Snakes and many kinds of insects escape into holes in the ground, where they are safe because the heat from the fire front seldom penetrates the soil below 5 cm depth.

The fire that was burning across from Marloth Park was started by lightning a couple of days ago, and, in line with the policy, it is left to burn.

Unfortunately, the fire management policy of the Park is a highly complex one and can’t be fully explained in such a short piece. For those interested in more scientific detail about fires, you can contact Scientific Services in Skukuza.”

For inquiries about Dawie’s artwork, please email him: dawiefouriearts@gmail.com

We are grateful the fires were contained, and hopefully, the wildlife could escape in ample time. In months to come, the veld will recover, and the green grasses, plants, and trees again will proliferate, and nature will be at its finest in those areas.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, October 17, 2020:

 This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India on day #208. My nightly dessert of fine cheese and Kenya is grown cashews and macadamia nuts. The night of the “bush dinner” Chef Ambrose had remembered to bring these items for my dessert, as the only guest in camp unable to eat the traditional desserts. Wow! For more photos, please click here.

Hottest day since we arrived last January!!! What a scorcher!…Expected to be 105F, 42C…Trail cam photos…

There was Little hanging around in the garden at 5:45 am. We weren’t up yet, Little!

Other than in Africa, we’ve never experienced such heat without using air conditioning during daylight hours. Thank goodness we have aircon at night, or we’d never be able to sleep on during these heat peaks that often occur in the spring, summer, and fall in Marloth Park.

Not all locations in South Africa are as hot as it is in Marloth Park. Right now in Cape Town, it’s 59F, 15C, a far cry from what’s going here right now at noon at 100F, 38C, and rising by the hour. The peak will be reached in about three hours. We can’t help but be indoors right now. Even Johannesburg is a comfortable 81F, 27F.

But this is the bush, the savannah, and the plains in Africa, and it’s consistently hotter in these areas.

A case of malaria was reported in Marloth Park a few days ago. The mozzies are back in their rampant mission to consume human blood, and without Deet, we have no chance of avoiding their annoying and potentially lethal bites. Every six hours, I apply another dose to any exposed skin, which I keep to a minimum.

Clothing is a good mosquito deterrent, and I am seldom bit beneath my clothes. In the morning, after showering, I cover myself from head to toe and then let it dry. If my clothes potentially rub off any exposed skin areas, I reapply them promptly. Its become quite a habit. I don’t give it much thought except when it’s time to reapply, which I rarely forget to do.  At night, when preparing for bed, I make a similar application.

This is Thick Neck at 3:08 am, who often stays in the garden most of the day and night.

When we go sit on the veranda in the evenings, Tom sprays the bedroom with Doom and keeps the door shut to kill any mozzies that may invade the room during the day. Tom doesn’t get bit, and thus, he doesn’t apply repellent except on a few rare occasions we may be out in the bush after dark. Lucky him.

With all these diligent precautions, I still get bit. Right now, I have a few bites on my neck and two on my arms. They are easy to pinpoint. The itching lasts for five days or more. I’ve tried every cream on the market, and nothing makes the itching go away for any longer than an hour or two. It’s not unusual to awaken during the night with all the bites itching at once.

Need I say, we’ve become used to this, and other than mentioning the heat, the insects, and the snakes here to provide our readers with the raw facts of the discomforts of the hot months in Africa, both of us do pretty well. In our usual way, we don’t complain to one another. Not even right now, as the temperature has risen to 102F, 39C, since I began preparing this post, neither of us, mentions how hot it is, other than the curiosity of how high it actually goes.

When we were in Henderson, Nevada, in summer 2019, staying at son Richard’s home in Henderson, we sat outdoors on his veranda by his pool, dunking every 15 minutes when the temperature was 115F, 46C.

This is Holey Moley and an unknown friend at 11:54 pm. She spends most of her days and nights with us. Note the huge temperature drop at night, as indicated by the camera’s description.

According to this chart, the temperature we are experiencing today is within a few degrees of the highest record temperature in this area of 106F, 41C. But even these highs may be surpassed from time to time. When this happens consistently, the power grid can’t keep up with the electrical use of air conditioners, and we lose power.

Hopefully, our electricity will hold, and we’ll make it until tomorrow when we’ll see a substantial drop in temperature to a high of 69F, 21C. It’s hard to believe there will be a considerable drop in 24 hours. We’ll see how that rolls out and welcome such a huge change, one that may require us to get out the hooded sweatshirts once again.

This morning I prepared most of the food for tonight’s dinner. I made a prawn and vegetable stir fry for myself, a huge salad, and a batch of homemade dressing. Later Tom will cook his pork chops on the braai, which he’ll have with rice, green beans, and salad. His muffins, ice cream, and apple crisps are no more. He’s back to eating healthy, along with me.

Somehow, Tom can eat white rice, called a “resistant starch,” and still lose weight. That’s not the case for me. For more information on resistant starches, please click here. Lucky him. Good genes.

I hope you are experiencing a relaxed and comfortable day!

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

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India,  on day #207. As more guests from Camp Olonana arrived, the women and children waited patiently to begin their welcoming dance. For more, please click here.

We made it through the 104F, 40C, day with ease…Today? The same…Six days and counting…

Due to WiFi issues today, I am unable to post a caption under the main photo below. Instead, the caption is listed below in a paragraph. 

Caption for above photo: “Above is the photo we took this morning of Bad Eye. Her eyelid has improved tremendously without medical intervention. To see her immediately after the injury occurred, please click here.”

It was so hot last night when we went to bed; the pair of jeans I’d washed after dinner was dry this morning. Usually, it takes two to three days for jeans to dry indoors on the drying rack.

Sleeping was easy with the aircon on all night, and it was true, load shedding had ended for now. We both slept through the night without the aircon going off due to another power outage. Over these past eight or ten outages, oddly, we didn’t lose WiFi which was unusual. Power outages aren’t quite as dull when we have nothing to do but stare at the walls or play dumb offline games on our phones when we don’t have WiFi.

Starting Sunday, the temperatures will drop to a high of 69F, 21C, and a low of 59F, 14C. Go figure. Cloudy skies and much-needed rain may follow these low temps. The animals are hungry. This morning I cut up dozens of carrots and a half head of cabbage for the antelopes.

We took this photo of Bad Eye this morning. Her eye is doing so much better. See the photo and link before for the injury when it was new.

A short while ago, we had 14 antelopes in the garden, as shown in today’s photos, all at once, including a duiker, bushbucks, and impalas. It was apparent they were all hungry and thirsty. Many of them drink from the freshwater we put in the birdbath each day. We even ensure Frank has clean water in his little container each day, along with his separate container of seeds.

When checking the weather report, we see it is sweltering in Livingstone, Zambia, right now and will continue during our five-night trip. In a mere six days, we’ll be on our way to Zambia. Packing will be quick and easy, only bringing hot weather casual clothing. None of the restaurants or venues in Livingstone require anything other than very casual attire, although, like South Africa, it generally cools down by about 25 degrees after sunset.

I took a break from preparing this post when I noticed Bad Eye standing at the edge of the veranda.  It was the first time we saw her alone without her three female friends/family. She was never found and treated, or perhaps, the rangers felt she’d heal on her own, which she did. She almost looks like herself again with this injury, as shown in today’s main photo. Her eye has healed beautifully on its own without any medical intervention.

This adorable bushbuck Spikey was among the many visitors this morning.

These animals are tough. They get through the outrageously long barren months of winter with barely any vegetation they can consume available. They exist on the offerings of people like us who don’t hesitate to feed them freely. This must have been going well this winter since few of the wildlife look undernourished or scrawny.

Soon, the rains will come, the trees, bushes, and grasses will grow, and once again, the wildlife will flourish in their environment. We are thrilled this will occur while we prepare to leave, giving us a degree of comfort, knowing they will graze without our intervention.

Today, we do what we can to stay cool, and then tonight, we’ll head to Jabula at 5:00 pm for our usual Friday night social time and dinner. It’s always such fun chatting with the locals in an upbeat environment. It will be hot sitting inside at the bar or outside, but we’ll dress accordingly and be fine.

They were spread out in the garden, preventing us from taking a photo with all visitors.

A few minutes ago, I heard back from Chris (Chris Tours), the same reliable tour and transport guy we used the last two times we were in Zambia, and he did such an excellent job for us. The only inconvenience is that he requires cash payments, not credit cards, to visit an ATM on the drive from Livingstone Airport to our hotel. Easy peasy. He will also arrange and transport us should we decide to do any tours we haven’t already done.

So there it is, folks, post #3343 as we rapidly approach our ninth anniversary of traveling the world.

Be well. Be safe. Be happy.

                                            Photo from one year ago, October 15, 2020:

We posted this photo one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #206. This male lion was resting after a mating session in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. For more photos, please click here.

Hot today!!!…103F, 39C…Fantastic dinner for eight at Amazing Kruger View…Seven days and counting…

The view from Amazing Kruger View, where eight of us gathered for dinner to say goodbye to Rita and Gerhard.

Once in a while, we dine at other restaurants besides Jabula, where we dine every Friday night and will do so as long as we’re in Marloth Park. We feel it’s essential to support the business of our friends, Dawn and Leon, owners of the popular, loved restaurant for its great food, playful ambiance, and exemplary service.

Last night, eight of us gathered at Amazing Kruger View (formerly known as Aamazing River View) as Rita and Gerhard’s last dinner out in the bush before they depart for the USA tomorrow. They won’t be returning to Marloth Park until after we’ve left on January 23, 2022. Of course, we will miss them but will stay in touch via Whatsapp until we meet again.

Including in the group of eight beside us and Rita and Gerhard were Kathy and Don and Louise and Danie. What a perfect group we are. As always, the conversation flowed with ease. The food was quite good, and we may go there again on any day but a Friday.

It was sweltering last night as it is today. While we were at the restaurant dining outdoors, they used water misting pipes which helped keep it much cooler. Once we were situated at our table, we never gave the heat another thought. But today, it’s different and already darned uncomfortable already at 10:49 am. It’s 94F, 34C, and it’s expected to rise to over 100F, 38C, by 2:00 pm, 1400 hrs.

The glare of the sun made it challenging to identify these birds. They may have been some bee-eater.

In our old lives, we have our central air conditioning running cooling the entire house, a huge expense in the summer months. The only aircon is in the bedrooms and is very expensive to run, although it quickly cools the room with the door closed. Last night, we kept it on all night except when we had load shedding between 1:00 am, and 3:30 am, during which I never slept a wink.

Supposedly, load shedding is suspended for an unknown period as of today. But, with this heat, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s instituted again in the next few days when considerable power is utilized during heat spells. Often, as described by local property owners/managers of holiday houses, some holidaymakers leave on the aircon in their rental, on full blast, while they spend the day in Kruger. It’s frustrating to hear about this since it impacts all of us when Eskom decides to stop power “to catch up” (So they say).

Ah, it’s the nature of the beast. Yesterday it was almost as hot as today, and we did fine all day. It’s much cooler inside, so we may sit on the sofa in the living room with the veranda door open, allowing us to easily see if any visitors come. If our wildlife friends come to call on such hot days, we certainly don’t ignore them. We have fresh water in both levels of the bird feeder, water in a bit of cup for Frank and The Misses and the chicks, and food it offered freely.

This morning I got up early to use the oven to bake chicken breasts for tonight’s dinner, hoping the house would cool off a little before the worst of the heat kicked in. Now, as I sit here next to Tom on the sofa, while we listen to Garage Logic, his favorite podcast from Minnesota, Frank and The Misses are eating the seeds and drinking the water. It always makes us smile to see them.

Three birds on a branch over the Crocodile River.

Yesterday morning when I got up, I noticed Frank was in the house once again. He loves coming inside to see what’s going on. He scurried under this sofa when he saw me and headed out the door, which was still ajar from when he entered. We never stop laughing over Frank coming indoors.

The only other time we had a bird walk into our house was in Australia when a magpie loved walking around the kitchen, looking for morsels of food that may have dropped onto the floor when we last cooked a meal.  We call such activity “crumb patrol.” In many countries, windows and doors are left wide open without screens, as is often the case here in Africa. Whereby in the US, if our kids left the door open, we’d holler, “Shut the door!”

You’d think that where there are many insects, both harmless and venomous, there would be screens on windows and doors in most countries. But both in Africa and Australia, where we have had the most insects, it would be different. Even In Italy, there were no screens, and we constantly were fighting off biting flies and horseflies. A bite from one of those flies lasted for days.

Geese in flight on the river.

Oddly, we don’t see a lot of flies here in Marloth Park. You’d think with all the animals and their dung, flies would be prevalent. Instead, its bees, hornets, and other flying insects, along with multitudes of crawling, walking, and slithering creatures, more so as we rapidly approach summer in Africa.

We’re used to all of this. That doesn’t mean we don’t get hot and sweaty. We do, but the more hot days we experience, the less we notice them. It’s the same with insects. In our old lives, I’d scream if I saw a “bug.” Now, I hardly pay any attention unless it’s venomous and needs to be removed from the house. We’ll do what we can to get it safely outdoors if we can.

In one week from today, we’ll be on our way to Zambia, and we’re looking forward to a pleasant trip. On Wednesday, we’ll go to Komati to get a PCR test and have the results the following day, before we leave. Louise will print a copy for us along with a copy of our rental agreement when we re-enter, which is also a required document.

That’s it for today, folks! Have a fantastic day!

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

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day#205. Unable to get as close as we’d like due to the rough terrain in the Serengeti in 2013, we did our best to zoom in for this and other photos on the remaining wildebeests at the tail end of the Great Migration. For more, please click here.

Another change in plans…Who did it???…

This morning, while Tom was seated at the table on the veranda, an animal purposely tipped over the birdbath. See the photo below for the culprit.

We completed and submitted the necessary documents for the boat trip on the Chobe River in Botswana. We put the details on our online calendar. We booked hotel nights on either end and even called the hotel to inquire about getting a Covid-19 PRC test before we departed on October 26th to return to South Africa.

Louise spent hours going back and forth with the company to ensure all the pricing and details were correct. On the contract she submitted, copies of our passports and credit card information were included. We even received a copy of a confirmation.

Two days ago, on Tuesday, Louise received an email from the rep from the cruise company that they were raising the price on us since we were not South African citizens. At first, they required a 100% price increase but last night backed down to a lower amount. This doesn’t work for us.

Yep, it was The Imposter who tipped over the birdbath right before Tom’s eyes. Tom said he accidentally tipped it over when drinking. No worries, The Imposter. We aren’t mad at you!

We are not willing to pay US $3000 ZAR 44627, for three nights on a houseboat, especially without WiFi. It’s just not worth it to us. We’ve already been on both the Chobe and Zambia Rivers on past trips to Zambia for visa stamps. The cruise would be a repeated experience, although a few days longer than in the past.

We told Louise to cancel. Fortunately, they had yet to charge our credit card, so we don’t have to deal with the hassle of getting a refund, nor will we have to have a total of five Covid-19 PCR tests. We’re fine. This morning we booked the three extra nights at the Protea Marriott in Livingstone, Zambia, and all we have left to do is arrange transportation to and from the Livingstone Airport, which we will do today.

Once we arrive at the hotel, we’ll check out any other possible events we may want to see while there. Keeping in mind, we did most of the attractions in and around Zambia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe while in Zambia twice in the past. We aren’t concerned. Instead, we’ll manage to enjoy ourselves as we always do.

Another handsome male impala in the garden.

At the hotel, we’ll have good WiFi and will still be able to post each day. Taxi fare is reasonable, and we’ll dine out each evening, except for the last night when we’ll dine at the hotel’s pleasant restaurant. We are particularly enthused to return to the popular Zambezi Cafe, where they serve delicious Portuguese food.

No, our photos won’t be as exciting as we’d hoped, seeing wildlife on the river. But we’ll do our best to include new images each day, including plenty of food photos from dining out.

Had we not had so many cruises upcoming in 2022, we may have considered the higher price of the houseboat tour. However, there was the fact we don’t care to have a venue suddenly raise prices on us when they determine we are Americans. We tend not to stand on principles stubbornly, but in this case, we feel differently.

Duiker’s diminutive size, at the bottom of the pecking order of antelopes, is shy and always the last to get pellets.

Since the onset of Covid-19, we’ve incurred thousands of extra dollars in lost charges and increased prices. We had to stand firm on this case with our intent to keep costs down to prepare for our exciting upcoming new cruises. It’s always a matter of checks and balances, ultimately what makes the most sense to us.

As soon as I’ve uploaded today’s post, I’ll get back to work on the corrections. At this point, I only have 29 more days of work, and then I’ll spend a week or two working on the four new detailed SEO (search engine optimization) posts requiring days to prepare. I should have all this extra work behind me by December 1st, and I can relax and enjoy the holiday season in the bush during our remaining time in Marloth Park, until January 23, 2022, when we’ll be on the move once again.

We are OK with all of this, especially after so many changes since the pandemic began. We’ve become more resilient and patient during this challenging time which has significantly impacted our travels in the past 20 months. Once we leave Florida in early 2022, we’ll begin to feel our journey has genuinely started again.

May you have a memorable day whatever you do.

                                     Photo from one year ago today, October 13, 2020:

This exquisite bloom which was the size of a soccer ball.
This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #204. This exquisite bloom was the size of a soccer ball. For more photos, please click here.

Fantastic evening on our veranda last night and many other nights…Just the two of us…

Impalas must be hungry to come so close to us. They usually steer clear of humans. We generously fed them.

Note: The horrifying photos we posted two days ago at this post of the duiker who had an encounter with a porcupine has since been darted, treated, and released by the Marloth Park vet with the help of the rangers. She is expected to make a full recovery. We are thrilled with this news.

There are no words to describe how much fun we have every evening, whether we are with friends at their homes, out to dinner, or having sundowners or dinner guests at our place. In reality, we aren’t with friends every evening, although it may often be two or three times a week.

In our old lives in Minnesota, we most likely socialized with friends two or three times a month at most. At times, in the middle of the bitter cold and snowy winters, weeks could pass before we socialized. It wasn’t practical for us or guests to risk being on the roads at night on the dangerously icy roads with drunk or incompetent other drivers.

Once the bush begins to turn green in the next few months, the wildlife will be able to graze once again.

Once spring arrived, our house was often busy with guests, with most events held outdoors at our lovely property. But, here in South Africa, there’s no snow or icy roads, and the distance from one property to another may not be any more than a ten-minute drive.

If we didn’t drive slow to protect the wildlife crossing the roads in the dark or have the necessity of driving slow on bumpy dirt roads filled with potholes, the distances between many bush homes might well be less than ten or fifteen minutes. Thus, with the relative ease of getting to restaurants and friends’ houses, more frequent socialization is typical in the bush.

Besides, the people of South Africa are enthusiastic about getting together, whether citizens or part-time residents, as often as it makes sense for their lifestyle and preferences. For us, we rarely turn down an invitation as long as we don’t already have plans for a specific date.

It’s a long winter, especially for the little duikers who are very shy around humans and other larger antelopes.

We sadly had to decline on a few occasions when we were under the weather for one reason or another, such as when we both had the flu (not Covid-19) or recent painful dental work. Otherwise, we won’t hesitate to say “yes!” to most invitations to get together.

Now, with Rita and Gerhard leaving on Friday to return to their home in the US and Kathy and Don both returning to Hawaii by December, we feel fortunate to have several other friendships we’ll cultivate in their absence. Of course, we always have Friday and Saturday nights at Jabula, enjoying time with Dawn and Leon and engaging with many other locals we’ve come to know. There’s no doubt in our minds that we’ll never be bored.

During the day, we each do our own thing, although we may be in each other’s presence as we are right now situated on the veranda, working on our laptops, tossing pellets, cabbage, and carrots to our wildlife friends. This morning, we fussed over ten bushbucks and a few duikers in the garden, along with a few warthogs, Frank and the Misses, and Broken Horn.

Impalas are beautiful with their unique markings.

When we don’t have plans with friends, we create our party on the veranda around 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs each evening. We sip on our beverages, whether it’s light wine for me, a cocktail for Tom, or an iced tea for both of us. We play music on our Bluetooth speaker playing songs from our distant past, feed the visiting wildlife, and chat enthusiastically, well into the evening, when we finally decide to go inside for a wonderful homemade dinner. It’s always special.

We dream about the future and reminisce over the past, our hearts filled with the many memories we’ve created. Together, over 30 years, we have never had a dull moment, as we playfully interact with one another for the remainder of the evening, laughing, smiling, and appreciating our unique quality of life.

Yes, sometimes things don’t go exactly as we’d like when illness befalls one of us, mostly me. And, no doubt, we run into obstacles of one type or another along the way. We never forget for a moment how blessed we are to be together.

May your life be fulfilling and purposeful.

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

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #203. An eland antelope, reasonably common in the Maasai Mara, posed for us in the morning sun. For more photos, please click here.

Another “day in the life”…

Usually, there are dozens of helmeted guinea-fowl in the garden, also searching for pellets. They swallow them whole!

As I sit here on the veranda on Monday morning, coffee in hand, the day is sunny, cool, slightly windy, and Frank is on the floor next to me pecking at his seeds and drinking from his little container of water. He makes cute little chirping sounds when eating, illustrating how happy he is.

I can see four bushbucks in the bush who gingerly approach, looking for another handout of pellets. We comply. There’s Thick Neck, Mom and Baby, Stingy and Spikey. Earlier this morning, Tom had seen four or five more bushbucks, Lonely Girl (warthog), Broken Horn (wildebeest), and more.

I stumbled across this old photo of Tiny, with his hair fluffed up when other warthogs were in the vicinity, stealing his pellets.

Today, the last of the holidaymakers will leave Marloth Park now that the school holidays have ended. The vehicles on the road have thinned to barely any activity. The parking lots at the Marlothi Centre and the Bush Centre will no longer be nearly impossible to enter. The stores in Komatipoort will have their usual local Monday shoppers.

Soon, Tom will drop me at Louise‘s Info Centre, where Kathy will be waiting for Rita and me for the three of us to head to Stoep’s Cafe in Komati for “girl talk” and breakfast. Tom has a dentist appointment at 11:00 with Dr. Luzaan to have his teeth cleaned. I’ll do the same in a month or more after my extraction heals a little more (it’s on the mend).

Two hornbills were banging on the kitchen window, an almost daily occurrence.

Rita and Gerhard leave on Friday to return to Washington for the holiday season. Kathy will be leaving Marloth Park in November for Hawaii, and Don will also leave for Hawaii in early December. We’ll miss them all and hope they will be able to be here when we return in December 2022, only 14 months from now. My 75th birthday party will be three months later, and we’re hoping, if it works out for them, that they will be able to attend. It’s a long way from the US, and we’d understand if they can’t make it.

In the meantime, we’ll cultivate relationships with other locals we’ve come to know and enjoy and spend the holiday season right here in Marloth Park. It will be hot, humid and the bush will be rife with snakes and insects. But we’ve experienced these issues in the past, and we’ve come to expect them.

Load shedding will continue twice a day for a total of 5 hours each day without power. It is expected to stop by Thursday, but we’ll experience the upcoming awful heat during the night when it occurs between 3:00 am, and 5:30 am. Hopefully, it does stop as described, since on Thursday,  Friday, and Saturday, the temperatures will range from 99F to 104F, 37C to 40C. It certainly gets hot during the night without aircon for almost three hours.

Zebras on the road while on our way to the market.

Kathy, Rita, and I had a great time during girl talk at Stoep Cafe this morning. Suddenly, I realized it was 11;00 and I needed to walk over to Dr. Luzaan’s office while Tom was getting his teeth cleaned. Once he was done, after a great chat with the dentist, we headed to the pharmacy and Spar Market, down the road in Komatipoort.

By the time we returned to the house, load shedding had an hour to go. We put away the groceries, and soon the power returned, as expected. I did a little chopping and dicing for tonight’s dinner of homemade taco salads with seasoned ground meat for Tom and seasoned chicken and prawns for me.

I had made the taco seasoning spices myself since those at the market in the little packets are loaded with sugar, flour, and chemicals, making them high in carbs and undesirable for either of us.

All is well. We are as content as we could be. Go Vikings! Yesterday, they finally won a game!

Have a fabulous Monday!

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

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #202. The cubs took a break to relax. For more photos, please click here.