A mini spa day…The simple sights, sounds and smell in the bush…

Young male bushbuck with sprouting little horns.

It may be strange, but all those years of travelling around the world, fast approaching nine years, I never once had a professional pedicure or a spa service of any kind. For whatever reason, lately I’ve been thinking about getting a pedicure. I mentioned this to Linda and she suggested we could go together.

Louise had suggested a woman in Marloth Park who has a spa in the park, giving me a brochure with prices and her contact information. Today at 11:30, Linda and I meet at the spa for the pedicures. Since I don’t drive in South Africa, Tom will drop me off and pick me up when I call and let him know I’m ready to go.

Mom and five babies. Tiny took a liking to the mom.

In the United States and many other countries, spa pedicures range in cost from US $35 to US $80, from ZAR 498 to ZAR 1139, depending on location. Here in South Africa, the average price for the 60-minute service is US$14, ZAR 200, plus tip. This is an enormous difference! If the prices here had been compared to those in the United States, I don’t think I would have been motivated to make an appointment.

Again, prices for many goods and services are considerably lower in South Africa than in many regions of the world. The cost of living here is lower than any other country we have lived in, about half of the cost of living in the United States. Adding the enjoyment of the many friendships we’ve made while here, let alone the joy we derive from living in the bush among the wildlife, this couldn’t be more ideal for us.

Tiny and the five piglets got along fine since he was pursuing their mom.

Right now, situated on the veranda, the regular band of mongoose is here, three warthogs are looking for more pellets, as well as two bushbucks, along with a few stray impalas. In a matter of minutes everything could change. I often equate our outdoor life in Marloth Park, comparable to fishing.

Fishing, which we both enjoyed in Minnesota years ago, consists of patience and anticipation. There’s no difference here. We sit, wait, watch, and all of a sudden, magic happens. Luckily, we are not catching or eating what we find here. Instead, we “catch” a photo while revelling in the snorts of warthogs, the sweet chirping sounds of the mongoose, the thundering vibrations of the hooves of the zebra on the dry ground, and the endless melodic sounds of a variety of birds in the dense bush.

Wildebeest Willie, lounging in the garden.

Occasionally, we’re “gifted” with the heart-pounding roar of Dezi and Fluffy, the two lions in Lionspruit which borders our back garden. Nothing, anywhere in the world where we could live, compares to the barrage on our senses of the sights, sounds and smells of the bush.

You don’t often hear about scents in the bush. Recently, a reader inquired, asking if we smelled poop from the animals in the bush. We do not. But, the smell of seasonal blooming flowers, the smells emitting from the low lying brush in the bush, a neighboring roaring fire or braai, and the occasional smell of an animal’s hormonal permeating the air, is intoxicating at times.

And then, in the evening, the wonderful scents of our next meal of well-seasoned meat cooked on the braai, leaves a “souvenir of perfume” that we will always carry with us. Even, in the evenings,  the smell of citronella in our various candles and lanterns and the repellent on our skin, all intended to keep the mosquitos at bay, leave a smell we’ve come to recognize as pleasant and familiar.

More zebras in the garden.

No, we can’t stay here forever. No, we have no interest in buying a home or a vacation rental in Marloth Park or anywhere for that matter. We stand firm in our desire to remain free from the rigors of home ownership and responsibility. At some point in the future, when age forces us to stop or lessen our travels, we may have to implement a new philosophy and finally settle down.

Until then, we embrace the life which has been given to us for the moment and cherish every day and every evening. Obviously, what we will do in 54 days remains a mystery and a challenge. But, in our usual way, we will find a solution and in the interim, we’ll allow ourselves the privilege of experiencing the “present moment” for as long as possible.

Be well. Be safe. Remain diligent.

Photo from one year ago today, May 7, 2020:

The ostrich has the biggest eyes of any animal in the world. The giant squid possesses the biggest eyes of a sea animal. For more photos, please click here.

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