Size does matter…

The smaller ship, an Azamara, on the right of this larger ship in port, a Celebrity ship, illustrates the vast difference in the sizes of the two cruise ships, both of which we’ll be sailing in 2022.

When we decided to start booking cruises again in the past year, we considered several options since the pandemic. Would a larger ship be safer than a larger ship that might have more comprehensive protocols to keep its passengers and crew safe from contracting the virus?

After paying lots of attention to existing sailings during the last few years, we decided to continue our journey on April 8 on a similar ship to the above Celebrity Eclipse with a passenger capacity of 2886 across the Atlantic Ocean. Most ships are not sailing at maximum capacity, and we expect this ship will have less than 2000 passengers at boarding, although we won’t be able to confirm this number until after we board and set sail.

Little was looking a little drunk after eating several fermented marula fruits that had fallen to the ground. Many animals, especially elephants and monkeys, enjoy the intoxication effects.

The Azamara ship, for example, is one of the six Azamara cruises we’ve booked for 2022 and 2023. Their passenger capacity ranges from 600 to 800 passengers. Based on Covid-19 and other viruses contracted on cruises, we felt the smaller ships would be more advantageous for us with less likelihood of getting sick.

However, we won’t have to sacrifice the amenities we enjoy and utilize, the quality of service, and the variety and quality of food served onboard. Azamara is a highly rated cruise line with the utmost services in all areas. Neither of us cares for water parks, gaming areas, and rides that many of the enormous ships have added for families.

Zoom in to see many bugs attached to Bossy’s face and ears. She needs some serious work by oxpeckers.

Our goal is to relax, enjoy the company of other passengers we meet along the way, get some exercise moving about the ship, and for me to use the health club, which all Azamara ships have as amenities. We’ve read many reviews about the quality of the food and the varied options, many of which work well for my way of eating. The chefs have arranged suitable and delicious meals for my way of eating, on most of the ships we’ve experienced in the past,

Let’s face it; we’ve been on 27 cruises since we began sailing in January 2013. We’ve had some great experiences, and we’ve had some mediocre experiences. However, we were thrilled to be out to sea in every case.

A new tree frog foam nest hanging over the plunge pool has been damaged from the rain.

Unfortunately, on several of our past cruises, we’ve come down with the dreaded “cruise cough,” or the “cruise flu.” Surprisingly, we’ve never had the common norovirus prevalent on many sailings. Never once have we had to seek medical care for the flu or virus on a ship.

Although, on the Antarctica cruise, I had to seek medical care for an injury to my knee from falling in Buenos Aires that became infected before we set sail. (A person rushed past me on the cobblestone sidewalk, sending me to the ground, landing on my knee). A few days before we left, I needed to take a different antibiotic than I was prescribed in Buenos Aires at the urgent care facility. The doctor on the ship provided me with the appropriate medication, and a few days later, I was on the mend.

A sweet young female kudu, resting in the garden.

Neither of us has had Covid-19 or Omicron. We’ve been vaccinated and boosted. But that’s no guarantee we can’t become infected while on a ship. Of course, we’ll follow the required protocols as directed and take additional precautions of our own, hoping we can avoid infection.

With Omicron raging worldwide, particularly in the US, we don’t feel that sailing is any worse than shopping at a market, visiting friends, and dining in a restaurant. Whether we choose to believe them or not, statistics support our peace of mind. We aren’t foolhardy. We’re cautious.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, February 8, 2021:

This bird is a turaco, also known as the “go-away” bird since his call sounds like go away. For more photos, please click here.

Making new friends while enjoying old friends…

When we returned from the party, we were greeted by these two giraffes in our driveway, appearing to be a mom and youngster. This photo was taken through the wet windshield.

What an enjoyable time we had at Leon’s birthday party yesterday. It was predicted to rain during the day, and it drizzled off and on. But the outdoor area by the pool and ground floor veranda at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant had several covered areas, and none of us got wet.

What we encountered as we neared our driveway. As soon as we were closer, she moved onto the driveway, blocking our way.

We arrived by 1:00 pm, 1300 hrs, and we were back on our way home by 5:30, 1740 hrs, thrilled and surprised to find two giraffes in a driveway when we arrived, as shown in the photos in the main photo and the photos below. We waited patiently while they moved into the bush, allowing us to get to the house. Who goes home from a party to find giraffes in their driveway?

They noticed we were trying to get through and moved into the bush while we waited patiently.

The food looked delicious. Tom was thrilled to savor some of the “pig on a spit,” but I am just about ready to give up eating pork, as mentioned in a prior post. It makes me think of warthogs, and we all know how much I love pigs as characters, not so much as food.

I’ll still make pork tenderloins and pork chops for Tom while I have something different on those nights. Based on my way of eating, I’ll never give up meat. If I did, I’d have to go back to high-carb vegetarian foods, and that would never work for me. It would raise my blood sugar and blood pressure, and that’s a disaster for my health and arterial disease.

An orange-billed and a black-billed oxpecker peeking out over a kudu’s back.

Also served at yesterday’s buffet was beef brisket. I ate a few bites off Tom’s plate and a delicious Greek salad. Of course, that wasn’t enough of a meal for me. When we got home later, I had two small avocado halves stuffed with prawn salad on a bed of crispy greens. Later on, I ate some nori sheets high in iodine, which I’m supplementing through my diet.

Impalas, typically very shy, came by for a visit.

We sat at a picnic table on the veranda with Rita and Gerhard. Tom added mashed potatoes and garlic buttered pao bread to his plate of pork and brisket. Of course, he went back for seconds on the bread. However, we mingled with other guests throughout the day and ran into some people we already knew.

I can’t help but say this over and over again. People in Marloth Park are friendlier than anywhere we’ve been in the world. At times, we have a whirlwind social life, and we enjoy every moment. Tom met a wonderful couple, Carol and Colin, whose house the four of us will visit next week for sundowners.

Bossy, always stands out in a crowd.

Then, we spent time with Sindee (husband Bruce), who’d kindly invited us to Christmas dinner. I asked them to join us for the casual gathering we’re hosting at Jabula for my 74th birthday on February 20. We didn’t want to make a big deal this year since next year, for my 75th birthday (God willing), we’ll be back here for a more significant celebration for that seemingly milestone year.

Right now, our calendar is filling up with upcoming events throughout the week. On Wednesday, Rita and I are going to the local spa for pedicures, followed by a massage for her. I don’t care for massages. I never have and will be happy to have a pedicure once again.

 Notice Little in the bottom right of this photo. He always shows up in this same spot for his pellets and idle human and pig chatter.

On Thursday morning, Rita and I are going to Stoep Cafe in Komatipoort for breakfast and “girl talk.” A few hours later, Tom will come to Komati, where he and I will have our teeth cleaned, followed by a trip to Spar Market for grocery shopping. Friday night, we’ll all be back at Jabula for dinner.

We love being out and about with activities and friends. But, we also love the special times we spend on the veranda at our bush house with all of our animal friends who never fail to entertain us. After all, in approximately 53 days, we’ll be on our way to Florida to stay with our newlywed friends, Karen and Rich, at their oceanfront property in Apollo Beach, before embarking on the transatlantic cruise to the UK. Life is good.

Have a safe and happy day.

Photo from one year ago today, February 7, 2021:

Mongooses came up to the door to ask for some eggs. For more, please click here.

Party day…Starting soon…Lots of visitors last night!…

Two adorable young impalas arrived with their family and herd members in the garden.    

Today, I am rushing to get the post done and uploaded. Leon’s birthday party starts at 10:00 am and ends at 6:00 pm, 1800 hrs. We don’t plan to get there until 1:00 pm, 1300 hrs. However, I need to get my walking done before we leave. I’ve set my timer for every ten minutes when I jump up and do 500 steps in the bedroom with the fan turned on its highest setting.

I may not accomplish my 7500 steps today, but I am working on it now and may have to make up for the shortfall tomorrow. Last week, I finished at 53,458 steps, approximately 28 miles, 45 km. I broke my previous week’s record by about 10%. I am happy with that, especially when walking inside a two-bedroom house.

Bossy with a different species of oxpecker without the usual orange beak.

Once we get to Leon’s party, we’ll be sitting all day long, not getting any exercise. I’ll get up every half hour or so and walk around a little. I made a prawn salad to bring since Leon explained that none of the food he was serving would suit my eating style.

Leon offered to make me a meal in the kitchen, but I declined. I didn’t want them to bother doing that just for me. Besides, I may decide to eat the mackerel I have left from yesterday’s breakfast before we leave and then won’t need to eat again until we return home after 6:00 pm.

Close-up of the dark billed oxpecker. It was the first time we’d seen one without the orange beak.

Neither of us cares to eat much during the day. I may end up making dinner when we return to the house. We’ll play by ear and see what we feel like at that time.

Last evening was one of the most pleasant times we spent on the veranda. The weather was cooler than the prior evening and pleasantly breezy. From the time we sat down at the big table, the garden began to fill up with wildlife in a matter of minutes. Little started it off, precisely at 4:00 pm, 1500 hrs.

The tiny and delicate impala babies are a delight to see.

Moments later, they started strolling in, one after another. Our visitors included Bossy, Thick Neck, Gordy, Sigfried and Roy, Broken Horn (whom we hadn’t seen in days), two Big Daddies (male kudus with massive horns), Mom and Babies (warthogs and bushbucks), helmeted guinea fowl, and no less than a dozen impalas including some little ones who leaped through the air with sheer joy.

We couldn’t stop smiling and laughing over the menagerie in our garden. At one point, we counted over 20 animals in the garden, five different species. It was enjoyable to see the little impalas who we usually only see on the side of the road when we’re driving through the park.

During the pelting rain, the animals took shelter in the bush. They returned to the garden as soon as the rain stopped. Please zoom in to see some of them.

Suddenly, the wind picked up with dark clouds rolling in, and there was an unexpected downpour. The animals quickly scattered for shelter in the bush under trees. For the first time in a while, we had to go indoors. The wind was blowing the rain in our faces. Five minutes later, the storm ended, and we went right back outside, along with most of the animals hidden undercover. It was quite a treasure of an experience.

I’ve got to wrap it up now. So far this morning, amid doing this post, I’ve managed to do 6000 steps. I will have to complete the balance while we’re at the party, walking around the grounds to Jabula Lodge & Restaurant as we celebrate Leon’s birthday. Happy birthday, Leon! I know you read this, so I wanted to say it here as well.

Have a pleasing Sunday, wherever you may be!

Photo from one year ago today, February 6, 2021:

Tiny worked with me during his photoshoot to ensure his poses appeal to most of our readers. Sadly, we haven’t seen him since we returned from the US in July. For more photos, please click here.

A worrisome situation with Gordy…

Zoom in to see this round bone stuck on Gordy’s right hoof.

Yesterday morning, while wildlife watching, we noticed a terrible sight. One of our precious two favorite bushbucks, Gordy Thick Neck, is the other) came up to the veranda closer than usual, looking at us with sorrowful eyes. He leaned toward us as if asking for help. His right hoof was stuck inside what appeared to be a beef or pork an “O” bone, as shown in the main photo.

We were horrified to see this. A seemingly simple situation such as this could result in the death of an animal as the pain worsens, and he’d be unable to move about to roam to feed. He was limping each time he tried to move. Besides, he could have been long gone by the time anyone would show up to help him. We contacted the rangers but never heard back.

We spotted a hippo by the Crocodile River at Amazing Kruger View on Thursday evening while out with Rita and Gerhard.

The vet would have to dart him to remove the bone to remedy this situation. With the number of bushbucks in Marloth Park right now, the expense may have been prohibitive to save one bushbuck.

There was nothing we could do. His massive horns could easily, even if unintentionally, eviscerate a human if he was frightened or startled if we tried to help. All we could do was feed him, comfort him with our soothing voices, and hope that somehow the bone would fall off.

I was especially worried about the lions that have been seen so close to us this past week. Gordy could have easily fallen prey to a lion attack. He could barely walk, let alone run from a predator such as the mighty lion.

A single elephant grazed by the river.

Miracle of all miracles, this morning, Gordy showed up in the garden without the bone. It must have fallen, or he may have been able to coax it off. However, it happened. It was a stroke of good luck. This morning I could see a little indention above his right hoof where the bone must have been cutting into him. But, he seemed like his usual self, and we couldn’t have been more thrilled.

Last night while out to dinner with Rita and Gerhard at Jabula, I couldn’t stop thinking of him. I worried that he’d go off into the bush somewhere and die. But, these animals are very resilient and resourceful, more than we can imagine. They suffer during the dry winter months with little food and water and survive yearly.

Carcasses of various wildlife are found in the bush with building materials, fence parts, and wires wrapped around a part of their body, eventually causing their demise. Sure, many don’t make it through these types of situations. As is the case worldwide, human carelessness and lack of concern for the world’s wildlife rapidly decline the number of various species.

Waterbucks and a hippo at a distance.

We often watch videos on Facebook and Youtube with kind humans making every effort to release wildlife trapped in human garbage, fishing lines, fences, and other materials that can easily result in the extinction of a species. A simple little bone is a perfect example of how much destruction a thoughtless human can perpetrate when tossing out human food to the animals.

Yes, some wildlife consume bones to get to the nutritious bone marrow. But, we overseers of the wildlife in Marloth Park, but be cautious and think twice before tossing out a human food product into the garden. Many say it’s best not to feed at all for this very reason. But, there’s always a reliable and thoughtful means of helping out the wildlife. The best options are pellets, fruit, and vegetables they can easily digest.

It’s always a joy to see elephants and hippos.

Tomorrow we are going to a party by the pool at Jabula to celebrate Leon’s 61st birthday, starting at 10:00 am, ending at 6:00 pm. He’s doing a pig (not a warthog) on a spit and side dishes for the group of about 40, including us and Rita and Gerhard. I will bring my food since I’ve lost interest in eating pigs lately. Humm…I wonder why…

Have a lovely day, everyone.

Photo from one year ago today, February 5, 2021:

A little plant growing on the muddy foot of a bushbuck made us laugh. For more photos, please click here.

How many snakes did Juan’s Reptile Rescue capture in January, 2022?…Unbelievable!…

Juan de Beer is an expert snake handler in Marloth Park and the surrounding area. He now has a team of snake handlers working with him when many sightings have been reported, especially this time of yearg.

Yesterday, when Tom spotted the following information on Facebook, I knew I had to post a story about this crucial skill required in this and many areas of South Africa. Snakes come out of hiding, although they don’t specifically hibernate, as stated here from this site:

“Hibernation has been described as an inherent, regular and prolonged period of inactivity during winter. Hibernation is associated with warm-blooded animals (endotherms) such as mammals. It refers to a period of inactivity and a shut down in the metabolic system to save energy. On the other hand, Reptiles are said to brumate – become less active but do not shut down and will be active with a slight increase in temperature. The term brumate was coined by Wilbur Waldo Mayhen back in 1965 and referred to research he was doing on Flat-tailed Horn Lizards – he found that even if he heated these lizards in winter, unlike other lizards, they would still not feed and become lethargic. Strangely, Mayhen’s term does not technically apply to the standard period of inactivity in our reptiles as our reptiles will become active with a slight increase in temperature on a warm winter day.

Snakes in cold regions of the world go into a state of torpor (inactivity) for long periods, up to 8 months, and often in dens where hundreds or even thousands of snakes may share the same winter shelter.

In Southern Africa, it rarely gets cold enough for snakes to truly go into torpor, and although they are far less active in winter, snakes may emerge from their winter hide-outs on a warm winter day to bask in the sun and drink water.”

It’s astounding how much we can learn about snakes. They aren’t simply slithery, dangerous, venomous creatures roaming in the bush to bite and frighten unsuspecting humans. Most snakes prefer to stay away from human interaction and only bite when threatened.

Sure, there are cases where a human accidentally steps on or runs into a snake and is bitten. But, when reading about most snake bites, it appears they could have been prevented. But snakes are not all about our fear and trepidation. They are a vital part of the ecosystem and must be revered for their role in our environment. Well, volumes have been written on this topic which is more than we present today.

But, the value of safe snake and reptile rescue and relocation is an art in itself. We’ve been impressed by the quality of the work done by Juan and his team. Of course, there are other expert handlers in Marloth Park, but, in most cases, we’ve interacted with Juan, and thus he is highlighted in today’s story.

Both of us were shocked to see how many snakes and reptiles Juan and his team rescued.

January 2022🐍🦎 🦂🐊
Rescue’s for this month from the Unit⚠️☠⚠️
1.Black mamba= 16
2.Puff Adder= 7
3.Mozambique Spitting cobra= 19
4.Rock Monitor= 14
5. Spotted bush snake= 13
6. Olive grass snake= 4
7.Eastern Tiger snake= 1
8. Herald snake= 4
9. Brown house snake= 9
10.Boomslang= 2
11. Western yellow-bellied sand snake= 1
12. Southern African python= 3
13. Marbled tree snake= 4
14. East African shovel-snout= 1
Rescue’s in total ~98
Juan’s Reptile Rescue Unit 🐍🐊🦎🦂🕷
Safe removal and release of all Reptile’s❗❗
(Marloth Park, Kruger National Park, Komatipoort, Hectorspruit, and surrounding areas)
Juan’s Reptile Rescue Unit:
060 665 5000📲
Available 24/7
No charge for a call-out❗❗
May be an image of snake and text that says 'Juan's Reptile Rescue 060 665 5000'
“According to Professor Harry Greene, snakes consume between 6 – 30 meals per year, which is in summer. During winter, they do not eat at all or, if they do, very little. Most mammals will die within a few days if they are deprived of food, but some snakes are known to have survived for more than a year without a meal. Because snakes are ectotherms and require no food for their heat requirements, they can survive with very little food, and a large Puff Adder probably consumes less than 1 kg of food per year.”
The world around us continues to nourish our quest for knowledge. Living in the bush in Marloth Park has been a rich source of education, leaving us in awe at every turn. We thank Juan and his support staff, Marloth Park rangers, Honorary Rangers, and wildlife rescue professionals who help to make this a magical place.
Now, it’s up to all of us, blessed to be here, to honor and respect the wildlife, their habitat, and the people that make being here possible.
Be well.
Photo from one year ago today, February 4, 2021:
Bushbucks only like the banana peel. They are experts at removing the banana to be left with the peel to eat. It’s hysterical to watch how they manage to peel the banana with their mouths. Nature is amazing! For more photos, please click here.

Safety check for women…Peace of mind…Hot! Hot! Hot!…Pig in a pond…

Little was resting in the cement pond on a sweltering day.

It’s uncomfortable for me to mention medical woes here. But, with horrible heredity factors and advancing age, I always think that by doing so, if one person is motivated to seek relief with the aid of their health care providers, or in less worrisome situations, consider adding self-care, then my discomfort is justified.

Tom, on the other hand, doesn’t have one medical issue. He takes no medication and keeps his weight under control. No doubt he should be more active. But it’s not as easy to walk on the roads in Marloth Park as it might be elsewhere. There’s no way he’d be interested in walking the three-plus miles, five km, as I have been doing each day, faithfully, since I began a few weeks ago.

It is a rare occasion that Tom has an ache or pain of any type, and when he does, it’s short-lived. I am grateful for his excellent health and a little envious as well. I cook healthy meals for both of us, hoping by doing so, we will benefit. Other than occasional illness or concern for something bothering me, our lives are relatively stress-free, another factor in supporting good health.

No doubt, being happy and enjoying life benefits long-term good health. Our harmonious, supportive and playful relationship has been a big plus for both of us. However, despite all this good juju in our lives, I seem to fall prey to worrisome medical issues from time to time.

In the past year, I had two horrible viruses. After being tested, neither of these were determined to be Covid-19. In November, I contracted shingles that often occurs in the spring months when living in the bush. Also, over the past year, I had a dental issue that lingered from the ten months we spent in lockdown in India, unable to see a dentist due to Covid-19.

This dental scenario resulted in several rounds of antibiotics, which didn’t help at all. Eventually, I had a root canal done and prep for a crown, after which the pain worsened, resulting in the necessity of pulling the tooth. The dentist, Dr. Singh, then went on a two-week holiday a few days later.

I developed a dry socket in his absence, leaving me in awful pain for a few weeks. I had no choice but to see a different dentist who prescribed pain medication and more antibiotics after treating the dry socket. After three rounds of antibiotics, which were necessary due to having coronary arterial disease, I developed some residual side effects from the antibiotics. Oh, good grief, what an awful time that was.

Then, shortly after this all healed, a crown on a different tooth fell out, and I had to have that done, leaving me with pain for several more weeks, which finally stopped in the past month. However, amid all this madness, when I got shingles in November, suddenly I developed a pain in my right breast. Was it due to the shingles on the back of my left leg? Unlikely, said Dr. Theo, whom I visited twice for this issue. He and his brother Dr. Mel examined me, neither finding any lumps, bumps, or evidence of any severe condition.

Despite this diagnosis, I was worried. Dr. Theo suggested I go to Mediclinic in Nelspruit to get an ultrasound if the pain didn’t subside over time. But, I was horrified about going to that hospital where I had open-heart surgery on February 12, 2019. Nor did I want to make that awful drive. Since the doctors didn’t think it was severe, I decided to wait it out.

I used ice, took Naproxen once a day, wore a bra to bed. I used no caffeine, which can cause breast pain. I even gave up red wine for a week to see if that would help. I read several books on breast pain and researched online. Nothing seemed to work or have any answers.

The cost of both the mammogram and the ultrasound was US $98, ZAR 1505. If a local, with medical aid, it will be fully covered. I made this the main photo today to perhaps inspire some interest from the many residents in Marloth Park who read our posts.

Last week when we shopped at Spar Market, I noticed a mobile mammogram unit in the distant parking lot. I took a photo of the above sign on the outside of the trailer and decided to set up an appointment to see what was wrong, once and for all.

Louise set up the appointment when the call wouldn’t go through using my phone, scheduling it for yesterday at 1:00 pm, 1300 hrs. Rita offered to take me to the appointment, but I didn’t want her to wait if it took a while. Tom kept busy in the car playing with his phone. His usual supportive nature helped me feel at ease.

The setup at the mobile unit was very professional. As it turned out, I had not only a mammogram but also a comprehensive ultrasound. After the tests were completed, the radiological doctor in Cape Town, sitting at a computer, watching as the test results came in, called and talked to me. He had great news! He said the scans were perfect. There was nothing suspicious in the tests. I got a clean bill of health.

No words can express my and Tom’s relief. Why I have pain, I don’t know and may never know. It could be referred nerve pain from heart surgery, a pulled pectoral muscle, or an inflamed duct. In the interim, the mammogram technicians said breast pain is common and suggested I treat it with supplements. Immediately, we headed to the pharmacy to purchase the supplements, and I started taking them right away.

This entire post is intended to remind women who haven’t had a mammogram in a while to get one. I am so relieved. I feel like a new person. I can live with the pain until, eventually, I believe it will go away. Hopefully, now I can be free of medical worries and be my usual cheerful self. Peace of mind is a precious commodity.

On a side note, load shedding started again this morning, and an hour after the service disruption ended, the power went out again. Today is expected to be over 100F, 40C, with a dew point of 73. We’re hoping power will be restored by bedtime. We are meeting Rita and Gerhard at Amazing River View for sundowners since they have big fans on their veranda and a mist spray that cools it down considerably. Without power and no air con, it could be one hot night!

Be well. Be healthy.

Photo from one year ago today, February 3, 2021:

Frank, fluffing up his feathers to impress The Misses. Maybe it’s time to expand the Frank Family once again. For more, please click here.

Giraffe falls into an open cesspool…Amazing video!…

Last night, when Tom showed me this video he’d seen on Facebook, I knew the moment I saw it, we needed to share it here today. Peter and Mary Craig-Cooper, the people who took this video, are popular photographers in Marloth Park whose photos and videos we’ve enjoyed over the past year. All other photos shown today are those we’ve taken.

The story that unfolds in the video is fascinating, leaving the viewer holding their breath while attempts are made to rescue this huge male, with their weight information listed below:

“Male giraffes are 16-18 feet (4.8-5.5 m) tall; females are 14-16 feet (4.2-4.8 m) tall. Males can weigh up to 4,200 pounds (1,900 kg), and females weigh up to 2,600 pounds (1,180 kg).”
It’s easy to take giraffes for granted when we always see them roaming around Marloth Park all the time. But these enormous animals are genuinely fascinating. Here are some facts about giraffes from this site:
“With such a massive body, it makes sense that the giraffes’ organs and other body parts are equally massive. Their tongues are a substantial 21 inches (53 centimeters) long, and their feet are 12 inches (30.5 cm) across. According to the San Diego Zoo, a giraffe’s heart is 2 feet (0.6 m) long and weighs about 25 lbs. (11 kg). Their lungs can hold 12 gallons (55 liters) of air. In comparison, the average total lung capacity for a human is 1.59 gallons (6 liters).
Mom appeared to want to show her offspring how to drink from the river.


Giraffes live in savannas throughout Africa. They like semi-arid, open woodlands with scattered trees and bushes, making the savannas perfect for these animals. According to the World Atlas, the tall creatures are native to Kenya, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Uganda, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Angola, and South Africa.


Giraffes are so social that they don’t have territories. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, a group of giraffes is aptly called a tower. Towers typically have 10 to 20 members. Who lives in the tower can vary. Some towers consist of all females and young, or all-male or mixed genders. According to the Animal Diversity Web, members are free to come and go as they please.

Giraffes only sleep around 20 minutes or less per day, according to PBS Nature. They usually get their sleep in quick power naps that last just a couple of minutes. Staying awake most of the time allows them to be constantly on alert for predators.

Every giraffe has two hair-covered horns called ossicones. Male giraffes use their horns to fight with one another playfully. They also spar by swinging their heads at one another and entwining their necks, called “necking.” [Images: Animals’ Dazzling Headgear]

Down they went, in an awkward pose, to drink from the river.


Giraffes are herbivores, which means they eat only plants. According to National Geographic, they can eat hundreds of pounds of leaves per week. Their long necks allow them to reach leaves, seeds, fruits, buds, and branches high up in mimosa and acacia trees.

Though these animals eat a lot, giraffes can go without drinking for weeks at a time. They get most of their moisture from the vegetation they eat.


As in cattle, female giraffes are called cows, while the males are called bulls. After mating, the cow will have a gestation period of around 14 months. Baby giraffes are called calves. The calf will drop to the ground during birth since mother giraffes give birth standing up. According to National Geographic, the fall can be as far as 5 feet (1.5 m).

According to the San Diego Zoo, new calves are quite large, at 6 feet tall (1.8 m), 100 to 150 lbs. (45 to 68 kg). They are also agile. They can stand up and walk around just an hour after birth. Giraffe mothers often take turns watching over the calves. Sometimes, though, the mother giraffe will leave the calf by itself. When this happens, the infant will lie down and wait for its mother to return.

This lovely girl (determined by the hair on her ossicones) posed for a face shot.

According to the University of Michigan, calves are weaned at around 12 months. At 3 to 6 years old, calves are fully mature. The animals can live 10 to 15 years in the wild and 20 to 25 years in captivity.

Other facts

You will often see giraffes walking around with birds on their backs. These birds are called tick birds or oxpecker birds (Buphagus africanus). They eat bugs that live in the giraffe’s coat and alert the animals to danger by chirping loudly.

Even if you spent a lot of time with giraffes, you would never hear them make a noise. This is because giraffes communicate using noises that are too low for humans to hear, according to PBS Nature.

This giraffe had five oxpeckers on its hide.

Thanks to their long legs, giraffes are very fast. According to National Geographic, they can run 35 mph (56 km/h) in short bursts and run for longer stretches at ten mph (16 km/h).

Giraffes are even-toed ungulates, which means they have two weight-bearing hooves on each foot and are in the order Artiodactyla, which also includes antelopes, cattle, goats, sheep, caribou, moose, hippos, and pigs.”

Each time we encounter a giraffe, whether it’s in Marloth Park, Kruger National Park, or other wildlife parks in Africa that we’ve visited in the past over nine years, we are always in awe of their beauty, their gentle gait, their size, and their uniqueness. We are blessed to live among them!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, February 2, 2021:

Farmers and sellers were offering produce at an open market in Komatipoort, the village where we shop. For more photos, please click here.

Tom made an exciting discovery!!!…Can we start feeling enthused about traveling again?…

Has Hal taken over for Broken Horn whom we haven’t seen in a few weeks?

It’s been easy to get out of the state of mind about traveling during the pandemic. Almost every day, news hits the wires that make us wonder when and if we’ll be able to return to our years-long journey to see more and more of this magnificent world we live in.

The clock is ticking faster now, more than ever, as we age, regardless of how hard we try to reduce the impact of aging. Neither of us feels any less agile or capable of continuing to travel than we did when we began in 2012. Yes, we’ve experienced some bumps in the road, literally and figuratively, mainly for me with some health issues.

But, our desire and determination to continue had only waned during the past two years of the pandemic when none of us knew what the future holds. Even now, there’s a degree of uncertainty hanging over all of our heads regarding travel. Many have changed their lives, excluding vacations/holidays to relax and unwind, instead looking at other avenues to accomplish these objectives.

Hal likes to rub his muddy face on the trees to get cleaned off.

Each day, we hear about cruise disasters, at times making us tentative, but we aren’t hearing about the successful cruises sailing all over the world. Many are incident-free, with many safety protocols in place to protect the passengers and crew. No, cruising won’t be as fun as it was for us in the past, when we socialized day and night, mask-free, enjoying lively conversation and dinners with six or eight other guests at big round tables. Those days may be gone, for now, and into the future. Only time will tell.

Knowing our first cruise, a transatlantic cruise with Celebrity Cruise line is sailing in only 66 days from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has left us wondering if it will cancel. At this point, we’re beginning to believe it will sail after all as planned. It’s a repositioning cruise at an excellent price to get the ship back to the UK and Europe, so it will sail as planned, most likely from what we can determine thus far.

Our goal is to stay in the UK with easy visa requirements until our next cruise sails in June from Istanbul, Turkey. It’s an easy flight in less than four hours. We plan to move around the UK during those two months, as we did in 2019, to experience more quaint and charming holiday rentals and hotels.

Bossy looks more and more pregnant each day.

Of course, we plan to see friends Linda and Ken who live in Buckinghamshire, another attractive English countryside location, which we love more than the big cities. At this point, we can’t book anything until we are on our way across the Atlantic Ocean to ensure nothing impacts the cruise.

We have no concern whatsoever making plans at this late date, only days before our arrival in Southampton, England, on April 21. We don’t want to risk losing deposits and full payments if something happens beyond our control. It’s one of those scenarios where we’re comfortable “playing it by ear.” If we can’t wrap up a holiday rental, we find a historic hotel, of which there are many.

All of this “cruise talk” brings us to the exciting news about Tom’s discovery in the past few days. In researching pricing for our currently booked cruises to 2023, he found three cruises with substantial price drops. To enjoy the benefits of a price drop, it’s up to the passengers to check pricing regularly, not the travel agency or cruise line. Such price drop benefits can only be gleaned before the final payment date, not after.

Hal does a nice job of trimming the grass in the garden.

Upon discovering recent price drops on three of our seven booked cruises for which we’d yet to pay the final balances, two of which are payable this month, Tom got to work. Last night, he managed to get in touch with Costco Travel after being on hold for over an hour and requested the following prices to be dropped on those three cruises as follows:

  • Sail Date: July 10, savings amount:           US $2600,  ZAR 39761*
  • Sail Date: November 8, savings amount:   US $1680,  ZAR 25697
  • Sail Date: November 19, savings amount: US 1280,    ZAR 19578

Total savings for 2022:  US $5560, ZAR 85036

No doubt, it was worth staying on hold for such a long time. We were in bed and put down the phone while Tom worked on his laptop, and I played with my phone until a rep came on the line.

Saving this amount of money furthered our enthusiasm going forward. If these three cruises have further price drops, we’ll be able to start the process all over again. Of course, Tom will continue to watch the prices, as he always does before final payments are due on the remainder of the cruise. or any of the remaining cruises and go even lower.

So, that’s our news of the day.

Have a rewarding day, too!

Photo from one year ago today, February 1, 2021:

This was an excellent profile of one of our favorite animals, a giraffe. For more photos, please click here.