Bumpy roads, baboons, and broken baked clay…

We shot this photo of the Crocodile River while standing at the brick overlook. With the five-day May Day holiday and many tourists in the park, we won’t be returning for several days. 

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Happy caterpillar dancing across the floor!

The five-day holiday observation includes today’s Freedom Day (Freedom Day is a public holiday in South Africa celebrated on April 27th each year. It celebrates freedom and commemorates the first post-apartheid elections held in 1994), then the May Day celebrations begin. See this link for details.

Once again, Marloth Park is packed. All of Louise and Danie’s holiday rentals are booked (not unusual for their exceptional properties. There’s an endless stream of vehicles along our ordinarily quiet dirt road, and the shops and restaurants will be packed over the weekend until Tuesday when the festivities come to an end.

Yesterday, we didn’t see any wildlife along the Crocodile River, although the scenery is always stunning.

With company coming for dinner tomorrow evening (friends Kathy and Don), we plan to stay put over the next several days. We have plenty of food, drinks, and supplies on hand and a plan to make a great dinner not only tomorrow but for the remaining evenings as well.

With the post done and uploaded yesterday around noon, we decided to take one more bumpy drive on the dirt roads in Marloth Park to see if we’d discover any unique sightings.  Whether it’s a turtle or a lizard on the road, a parade of elephants along the river, or a bloat of hippos lounging in a pool of water, it all matters to us.

We didn’t see much wildlife on yesterday’s drive in the park.  This ostrich made the day!

As we drove over one outrageously bumpy road after another, seeing very little, which can be attributed to the increased traffic in the park, we decided to call it a day and head to Daisy’s Den for more birdseed and a few items we needed for the weekend.

Male ostriches typically have black feathers, while females and youngsters are a greyish brown color.

It’s such fun going to any one of the three small shopping centers here in Marloth Park. Talk about a small-town feel! These are oozing with charm and quaintness, leaving both of us enjoying any necessary shopping runs we may make throughout the week to fill in on any items needed.

The pickings are slim in either of the two little grocery stores carrying just the basics. At times, we’re surprised by the excellent produce and odds and ends we may find that prevent us from the necessity of the long drive to Komatipoort for only an item or two. 

A male kudu resting in the bush from the hot midday sun was looking our way as we shot this photo.

The drive to the Marloth Park shops is three minutes. The purpose to Komatipoort is 20 to 25 minutes, depending on what big trucks we’re stuck behind on the two-lane road. 

Back at home by 2:00 pm, the moment we stepped out of the little blue car we realized we had visitors…unwanted visitors…a troop of baboons. Luckily, there isn’t much they can destroy on the veranda at this house. Sure, they could ruin the cushions on the outdoor chairs, but the potted plants are simply too heavy to tip over.

At a distance, we could see these two young baboons playing in the yard.

There are some decorator items on the stucco walls and both a gas grill and wood-burning braai (grill), neither of which seem to appeal to baboons on one of their destructive rants.  Weeks ago, we knew they’d been here when we found poop, baboon poop, all over the veranda and cushions from a few chairs tossed about.  We cleaned up the stinky mess and put everything back in order.

As we kept a watchful eye on yesterday baboon invasion after closing the doors to the house, we heard several loud crashes coming from next door. Maybe they were heading our way next! Tom grabbed his big stick designated for precisely this type of situation, which if he holds over his head cause the baboons tend to freak out and run away. It worked perfectly. 

We immediately shut the doors to the house.  Once baboons enter, they can tear a home apart.

After we were assured they were gone from the general area, Tom walked next door to check out the damage, taking these photos we’ve shown.  If they’d turned over a trash bin, he could set it upright to avoid more baboons and Vervet monkeys coming to eat from the garbage which often occurs. That’s why homeowners have wired or steel cages to hold their trash until pickup arrives.

It didn’t take long to see we were surrounded by destructive animals.

Luckily, they never returned the remainder of the day. We spent the evening as usual, on the veranda enjoying our dinner and watching a variety of “friends” come and go.

We heard several loud crashes from the house next door, where no one is living right now. Rina and Cees had left to return to The Netherlands. The baboons broke many clay pots, as shown in these photos.

Tomorrow, we’ll share the heartfelt story of an injured animal we’ve come to know and love and how we’ve attempted to help him a little as he hopefully recovers soon. 

We’ll be sharing some hard-to-look-at photos of his awful injury and why some animals in the park are treated by volunteer vets and others are not or in some cases euthanized by shooting. Please stop back for this story.

What a shame. I suppose this lighter-weight pottery makes no sense in the bush.

Have a lovely day and evening!

Photo from one year ago today, April 27, 2017:

Clouds above the pretty beach in the Isle of Pines, a port of call on last year’s cruise. For more photos, please click here.

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