An evening with friends in the bush…A dangerous Black Mamba story…Moving day today…Goodbye Khaya Umdani…An adorable video!

Some years ago, in the evening Linda, alone while sitting on the veranda at their home in Marloth Park, heard what sounded like a scream. She immediately went inside the house, locking the door behind her. The next morning, she wandered through their property to find the remains of this impala, who’d been attacked by a leopard, as confirmed by the Park Rangers whom she called to assist. All that remained of the impala was this skull that they’ve displayed in their yard as a reminder that there are wild animals in this area and one must always exercise caution.

The commonality we share with people we’ve met in Marloth Park is the profound love of nature and wildlife, like none we’ve seen before and most likely, will ever experience again.

Ken lit the fire in the braaii, using a combination of charcoal and wood. After dinner, he added more wood to keep it up like a bonfire while we remained outdoors the entire evening.

Last night this was exemplified while dining at the lovely bush home of our new friends, Linda and Ken. As typical in South Africa, a braai was on the evening’s agenda, only delayed by the constant chatter among the four of us.

In the past year, Linda and Ken found this huge skin shed by the dreaded Black Mamba that was hanging from the thatched roof over a second-story veranda. Up close, we could see it’s head in detail. Yikes.

Ken, a phenomenal photographer made us drool over his plethora of wildlife photos, inspiring us to bite the bullet and purchase a more sophisticated SLR camera and spend the time necessary to learn to use it. 

Linda and Ken like to fill this standing trough with birdseed and pellets for visiting wildlife. Having only returned from their other home on Friday, they’d yet to see many visitors. They explained that once they’ve been back for three days or so, the wildlife comes to call.  As we sat outdoors the entire evening, there was an abundance of birds and toward the end of the evening, we saw a Genet, a cat-like animal we’d yet to see, which moved too quickly for a photo.

Alas, I tried holding up one of his two cameras last night, only to be disappointed, when my bad shoulder prevented me from holding it up for less than 30 seconds. As much as I love taking photos, this is my reality, which I accept, with the hope and expectation that as technology advances, a lightweight, quality camera will become available in a size and weight I can manage.  

Tom and Ken in my blurry photo as they cooked the steaks on the braai. Wish I’d held the camera steady for a better shot.
This morning Linda and Ken stopped by and we proudly showed off Khaya Umdani as we prepare to leave in a few hours. Once again, we instantly engaged in lively and animated conversation, especially when  Louise and Danie stopped by to see how we’re doing. 

That very commonality becomes so clear when residents of Marloth Park meet other residents immediately having this special interest that only this unique area can provide.

Another skull found in Linda and Ken’s garden from a duiker.

Where are we going? Not back to the little house. Our generous hosts, Louise and Danie have opened up yet another fine property for us to enjoy as our time in Marloth Park winds down. How did we get so lucky?

Although Tom isn’t thrilled about moving quite so often, once we’re unpacked and settled in, the sense of comfort and familiarity will appease him, as it always does, putting him at ease. For me, it’s all an adventure and I love every moment. I don’t even mind the packing and unpacking anymore when it creates a familiar sense of organization and order that I gave up so long ago.

Khaya Umdani was an ethereal dream, 10 full days of the ultimate in comfort and style enhanced by the endless sounds and sights of nature at our doorstep as shown in our photos. It couldn’t have been more perfect.  Absolutely nothing was out of order, annoying or difficult. 

At Khaya Umdani, we enjoyed no less than 10 various warthog families, all of which learned to come to the left side of the pool if they were to get any pellet treats. They learned quickly, making us laugh.

Every possible amenity was on hand; the finest of quality, offering the utmost of functionality and an abundance of eye appeal. From the dishes to the placemats to the bedding and towels, nothing was spared. From Zeff’s daily presence, quietly and unobtrusively in the background, every possible need was met with warmth and enthusiasm.

A few days ago we took this adorable video.  Please watch for a heartwarming chuckle!

In a way, it’s not easy to leave Khaya Umdani. But, we know, having previously seen the house we’re moving to, we’ll be equally at home once we settle in. For me, the bigger issue is the reality that we’re leaving Marloth Park in 19 days. Never in the past, when preparing to leave other countries have I felt such angst about leaving. 

The animals, the people, it will be hard to say goodbye. I can only hope that someday we can return to Africa, to Marloth Park, to visit Capetown, to finally see Victoria Falls, and to once again possess this powerful feeling of belonging to this land.

For now, we’re not done in Africa when soon we’ll head to Morocco, expanding our horizons, further building our experience and knowledge of this continent, so far removed from our past reality and today, so forefront in our hearts and minds.

Comments and responses An evening with friends in the bush…A dangerous Black Mamba story…Moving day today…Goodbye Khaya Umdani…An adorable video!

  1. Anonymous Reply

    Hi Jess and Tom, don't know what camera your friend had but there are many lightweight digital SLR cameras. I am more partial to the Nikon brand but certainly Canon offers up a lightweight base model as well. I think the advantage to you getting one is the point and shoots have a more delayed shutter while and SLR may take a photo more quickly and get you the shot your really wanted (especially with regard to wildlife). I've taken a couple in the past few years and these have really made a difference in my photography – though I mostly shoot portraits of Tess and her friends. You can purchase a DSLR and take photos in the "auto" mode, but also there are many online classes you can take to teach you how to shoot in manual which affords a more increased potential for a quality shot and greater creative control.

    Good luck!
    Julie in Minneapolis (and Tess too)

  2. Anonymous Reply

    I truly believe that Africa is the best. Its going to be hard to beat this adventure.

  3. Jessica Reply

    Anonymous, we totally agree. This experience is like none other. But, our pending future plans which we'll post once firmed up, will include some amazing places that include nature and wildlife. The cultural adventure awaiting us in Morocco will be an excellent diverse opportunity to share.

    Thanks for writing and for reading our story. It always means so much to us when our readers write to us.

    Warmest regards,
    Jess & Tom

  4. Jessica Reply

    Hi, Julie and Tess! Thanks so much for your wonderful suggestions. Once we get through the next few very busy days, I'll definitely research this site. We're planning on buying a camera and having it shipped to us in Morocco.

    It's great to hear from other Minnesotans. Sorry you've had such horrible weather, mostly since we left in October 2012.

    And, thanks for following our journey with us. We feel so fortunate to have made new "friends"" all over the world traveling along with us in their hearts.

    Warmest regards,
    Jess & Tom

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