A rough and muddy outing brought some treasures to light…

 

We couldn’t have been more thrilled to see these giraffes while driving on the wet, muddy roads.

Thank goodness, we have power. Unfortunately, we don’t have WiFi. Apparently, a line went down due to the relentless pounding rain. Hopefully, it will be up sometime today. In the interim, Cyclone Eloise is still hovering and should be out of our area in the next day or two. We are bracing ourselves for more rain and power outages in the next 24 hours.

Giraffes are amazing animals. The giraffe is an African artiodactyl mammal, the tallest living terrestrial animal, and the largest ruminant. It is traditionally considered to be one species, giraffa camelopardalis, with nine subspecies.

Yesterday, we made the long, muddy, pot-hole ridden drive to the Crocodile River to see how high it had risen. I was only able to take a few photos since I was determined not to get my shoes and ankles muddy. I only have a few pairs of shoes and didn’t want to muddy them.

The feet and legs of the few animals that visited, were caked in thick mud. It was funny to watch the four bushbucks that stopped by trying to shake it off their feet. They, too, hadn’t seen such rain in quite a while.

They were congregated in one particular area, close to the parklands where they can roam freely without hitting their heads.

After the challenging drive on the uneven, muddy roads as Tom averted one outrageous pothole and sunken ravine after another,  we made our way out to Olifant Rd, the only paved road in Marloth Park. Out of meat in the freezer, a stop at The Bush Centre’s meat market was a must. Besides, I needed more cream for my coffee when my liter container spoiled in the refrigerator during multiple power outages.

A youngster with mom and dad hovering at a short distance.

It was concerning going into the two shops we visited when mask-wearing was either non-existent or worn below the nose. In South Africa, there’s a law to properly wear masks when outdoors in public areas and inside all enclosed shops and public spaces. Some shop workers were careless in this regard. I didn’t hesitate to ask those who didn’t comply to “please cover your face and your nose.” No doubt, I got a few dirty looks. I don’t care.

“It feels good to get off my legs for a while.”

Still, we haven’t gone to Komatipoort to grocery shop and to stop at the pharmacy. With the storms of the past several days, it made no sense. Today, Louise is heading there and will pick up a few items for us. With our more strict way of eating, our ingredients list has downsized considerably.

A mom and baby munching on leaves.

With the storm still brewing, we don’t expect to see much wildlife today. However, yesterday’s outing reaped some rewards when we spotted a number of giraffes along the way, shown in today’s photos. Hopefully, if the house’s WiFi isn’t back on by the time we’re ready to upload today’s post, I can get my phone’s hotspot to work well enough to accomplish this.

Looks like a magpie playing in rainwater near the area called, Two Trees.

Now, at almost 10:00 am Tuesday, the WiFi is back on for the first time in almost 24 hours, except for a few hours, here and there.  Last night, after dinner and the necessity of going indoors when the mozzies got bad, we couldn’t stream any shows or do anything online. As a result, we went to bed early and played installed games on our phones.

We could read books on our phones on Kindle, but after reading so many novels during the first few years of our travels, we lost interest in reading books, instead finding ourselves listening to podcasts, watching videos, and streaming TV series, movies, and documentaries. With no WiFi, we can’t do any of these. We both tried reading books on our Kindle apps, but neither of us could get into it.

Mr. Bushbuck’s muddy feet.

Now, much to our delight, as I continue to write, the house’s WiFi has returned. With both power and WiFi working, we’re practically giddy. I’ve already done two sessions on the treadmill this morning, and I’m now able to listen to some of my favorite podcasts to make the time pass more quickly.

Mud on young bushbuck’s horns.

Tonight’s dinner is planned for the gas braai with a few simple tasks required to put it all together. We were able to get two loads of laundry done last night and placed them on the portable clothesline to dry indoors.  Soon, Zef will arrive to clean the house, after which we’ll head to the hardware store to pick up a lighter for the citronella candles and insect repellent coils we use at night on the veranda. (No, Tom is still not smoking. Yeah!)

Several waterbucks, used to living on the Kruger National Park side of the Crocodile River, found themselves on the Marloth Park side, separated by the fence, preventing them from entering Marloth. The rangers are keeping an eye out for their safety and asking residents and visitors to stay away to avoid stressing the animals. They aren’t used to being near humans.

As always, here in Marloth Park, when weather conditions are tolerable, wildlife is visiting, power is restored and WiFi is working, we don’t need another thing. Of course, the coup d’etat will be when we are able to get together with some of our many human friends. Today is day #13 of self-imposed quarantine. One more day to go.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, January 26, 2020:

In Kauai, Hawaii, on this date in 2015, our friend Richard, who sadly has since passed away, sat behind the impressive magistrate’s desk, gave us a feeling as to how it would have been to visit his office in St. Louis, Missouri might have been, before he and wife Elaine moved to Kauai. For more, please from that post, click here. For the post from one year ago, as we approached time to leave the US, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

Cyclone Eloise making her mark…No power for over a day…Inverter keeping our equipment alive…

Last night, two bushbucks stopped by during the storm. I took the photos using the flash since we had no lights to illuminate the garden.

This morning around 9:00 am the WiFi signal was restored. The power had been out since 5:30 am Sunday morning. It’s now midday on Monday. The inverter has been working well to keep our phones and laptops charged, but can’t really be used for much else to avoid it running out of power. That helps us considerably.

Ah, Cyclone Eloise keeps pounding us with torrential rains and occasional thunder, but fortunately with only occasional gusts of high winds. We heated water for coffee/tea this morning on the gas braai on the side burner. Last night, we ordered takeaway dinner from Jabula when it was raining too hard to cook bacon and eggs on the grill, all the food we had left.

The eyes of the two bushbucks showing in the dark.

We’ll probably do the same tonight since there’s no way we can grocery shop today when the roads to Komatipoort may be flooded. If we have to do takeaway for a week, we will. Jabula’s food is great and Tom loved his ribs, chips (fries), salad, with a small loaf of white bread while I had a double order of the starter, spicy peri-peri chicken livers.

There are other restaurants in Marloth Park, offering takeaway, which we may try since we don’t want to get into the rut we were in during those 10 months in the hotel in Mumbai, eating the same meals over and over again. However, owners Dawn and Leon know exactly how to have my food made to comply with my way of eating. That can’t be assured from other restaurants.

Three warthogs ventured out in the inclement weather. We tossed them a big load of pellets for their efforts in coming out in this weather.

Last night, during the pelting rain, we had only a few visitors: two male bushbucks stopped by when the rain let up for a while, and then we saw “Mom and Babies” who scrambled to get every last pellet we tossed their way. During daylight hours, when the worst of the rain had yet to hit from Eloise, we only saw Frank, The Misses, and The Chicks, and the hornbill mating pair still busy with their nest in the hijacked bushbaby house.

Photo taking has been at a minimum the past few days, so we are sharing a few recent shots from last night and those taken over the past week or so. I considered doing a video of the pounding rain, but the brunt of it occurred during the night when the winds were much worse. I didn’t consider it sensible to head outside during that situation.

Mongoose contemplating how she will crack the egg. She banged it on the cement.

Today, it is very cool which is refreshing, although the humidity is quite high. It’s currently 74F, 23C which is comfortable, the lowest we’ve experienced since our arrival. This is only temporary, due to the cyclone. Once that ends, surely the high summer heat will return, often as high as 104F, 40C, or more.

Louise and Danie offered to bring us their generator to keep the fridge and freezer cool and allow for air-con at night. But, we’ve already lost the few items we had left in the refrigerator and if the power doesn’t return soon, the bag of chicken wings and containers of bacon in the freezer will also soon be lost. As long as we have WiFi to entertain us and serve our posting, and communication needs, we’re fine.

Mongoose enjoying the contents of an egg we offered.

You may ask, “How the heck are we putting up with this, after all, we’ve been through?”

Hey, today is day #12 of our 14-day self-imposed quarantine and we didn’t get Covid-19 from the 59-hour journey from Mumbai to Nelspruit. We’re grateful. We’re thrilled! What’s to complain about? Soon, this power thing will subside, although not entirely, when load shedding will resume.

Soon, we’ll be able to cautiously grocery shop and stop in a pharmacy for a few items for the first time in a year!!! Soon, we’ll be able to shop at the Biltong shop in Komatipoort to buy that fantastic South Africa jerky, the best we’ve had in the world. Soon, we’ll have an opportunity to visit with some of our friends, old and new, who will and have maintained social distancing and mask-wearing with diligence since Covid-19 arrived in Marloth Park a few months ago.

Dad Hornbill considering his nest-building options.

Soon, we’ll be able to use the electric stove, turn on fans as needed, and use the electric water kettle. Soon, I’ll be able to use the rented treadmill again that obviously isn’t working without power. One thing we’ve learned after 10 months in that hotel room is patience. It was only that level of patience that allowed us to eventually get here. We wait patiently.

Oops, I had to take a break to toss birdseed into the garden. Frank, The Misses, The Chicks, and Auntie just stopped by. They make a cute little chirping sound when they eat the seeds. It is delightful.

A forkl of kudus in the garden, and of course, a warthog in the photo. They never miss a photo op.

Another oops, we had to come indoors when the wind picked up during the downpour to prevent our equipment from getting wet. Life in the bush.

Wow! By the time I was about to upload this post, our power was restored. We don’t know for how long, but we’ll enjoy it while we have it! Time to go work out on the treadmill while I can.

Happy day.

Photo from one year ago today, January 25, 2020:

Ironically, similar to a new photo we posted a few days ago. Here is a photo from seven years ago today at this link. On either side of the face are two hanging red-tipped hanging pieces of skin. When the Helmeted Guinea-fowl moves, these swing around like a pair of dangling earrings. Ah, the beauty of the wild! For last year’s post, please click here.

 

 

 

 

Power outage due to Cyclone Eloise…We’re figuring it out…

Please note: Due to a power outage and poor WiFi signal we are unable to upload photos until power and WiFi are restored.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, it was highly likely that power would be out today and it is. It went out sometime early this morning when I was awakened by the temperature climbing in the bedroom without the air-con running. Louise sent a message this morning to inform us it wasn’t “load shedding” but a power outage due to last night’s rains and Eskom has yet to come out to work on it.

Why the power goes out from the rain, when there’s little wind baffles me. But with the poor infrastructure here, anything seems to be instrumental in the power going off, often for hours, if not for days at a time, under certain mysterious conditions. There’s no point in attempting to analyze the reasons. It is what it is.

Right now, I am using my phone as a hotspot, utilizing Google Fi data service. We only use it for short bursts such as circumstances, such as today when the power and tower aren’t working for the house’s WiFi. It’s pricey and only warrants use during these situations. Thus, the number of photos in today’s post will be limited.

At least now, we have the inverter to help us for a period of time, but that runs on batteries and if power isn’t restored soon enough, that will stop working. For now, we can charge our laptops and phones, but the WiFi isn’t working. That’s most likely due to the system at the tower being down due to the power outage.

At the moment, as I’d done last weekend during load shedding, I am writing the text for today’s post using the offline app, “text” which I can save to upload later on when the power is restored and then add the photos I’d planned for today. Cyclone Eloise is beginning to impact South Africa, but we aren’t able to see how seriously without a connection.

Instead, we can continue to sit at the big table on the veranda and do it the “old fashioned” way, watch the weather before our eyes. Right now, it rains intermittently with occasional big gusts of wind rustling through the trees. The only visitors we’ve had this morning have been a half dozen helmeted guinea-fowl who came and “peck, peck, pecked” the seeds we’ve been tossing out for (francolin) Frank, his family and friends, and our nesting pair of hornbills who’ve taken over the bushbaby house in a tree at the edge of the veranda.

During past stays in Marloth Park, we’d noticed we didn’t get many visitors during rainstorms. I truly believe many of the animals seek shelter when the rain, wind, thunder, and lightning frighten them. Oops, I spoke too soon. I just looked up to find Frank, The Misses and The Chicks have stopped by for some seeds. We tossed out several handfuls of seeds and they are making happy little chirps as they peck at the seeds. It’s quite endearing, actually.

Oddly, or maybe not so oddly, this inconvenience causes us little concern compared to our experience of the past 10 months. We are outdoors, we don’t feel confined and we have nature at our disposal when the timing is right. Fortunately, we don’t have much food on hand to spoil in the refrigerator and freezer.

We’d hope to head out to shop tomorrow in Komatipoort but until the threat of Eloise is over, it makes no sense to fill the fridge with food that could ultimately spoil. Tonight for dinner, we’ll make bacon and cheesy scrambled eggs on the grill which has a side burner since we are all out of meat, other than frozen chicken wings, which may spoil if the power doesn’t return by this evening.

Some may say, “Why didn’t we go to a well-established tropical island renting a beachfront property and be able to relax in comfort?” We understand this mentality and for many, that would be an ideal scenario. But, for us, “rough and tumble” types that we are, we feel right at home with some inconveniences when the tradeoffs are well worth the occasional trouble.

We’d love to go to Kruger National Park soon, but all the facilities are closed due to Covid-19 and now, this storm. There would be nowhere to stop for a bathroom break.. We’re hoping soon enough, activity in Kruger will be restored and we’ll purchase an annual pass and visit as often as we’d like.

There’s not much on the agenda today in light of these current developments. However, when and if the weather improves we may see our wildlife friends in abundance.

Have a safe and healthy day!

Photo from one year ago today, January 24, 2020:

Almost ready to leave Arizona, while visiting some of Tom’s siblings,  here are his four sisters (two weren’t able to travel to Arizona). From left to right (back row); Colleen, Tom, Mary Ellen with Rita, and Margie (front row). For the story one year ago, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tropical Cyclone Eloise heading this way?…Photos of our house in the bush…

Love Bird's Nest
View of the veranda and pool at Love Bird’s Nest, our home in the bush.

From this news article from last night and all over the local news the past few days, apparently, Tropical Cyclone Eloise may be heading this way. Currently, it’s hammering the nearby country of Mozambique, a mere 30 km, 18.7 miles from us, a half-hour drive.

Will it reach us, such a short distance away? It may, but we suspect we won’t get the brunt of it. With a delicate infrastructure here in South Africa such a storm could leave us without WiFi and power for days, if not weeks. If, for this reason, you do not see us here in a few days, you can rest assured this is the reason we aren’t online. Please be patient and we’ll return as quickly as possible. In the interim, we aren’t worried and are not taking any special precautions.

This morning, while reviewing the many comments we receive overnight, our regular readers, Caro and Peter, who’ve been interested and supportive of our travels, wrote to us, requesting we post photos of our current bush house. We’ve been planning to do so in a future post, but, I suppose now is as good a time as ever.

The photos we’re sharing today are those we’ve borrowed, from Louise’s website, found here. The listing for this house, named Lovebird’s Nest is found here. If at any point, you are considering a visit to Marloth Park, please feel free to contact Louise for one of her many fine holiday rentals and the best “guest satisfaction” in the world. Plus, she and Danie own the only information center of its kind in Marloth Park, rife with information about rentals, activities, dining, and more.

For the link to the Info Center, please click here. Their air-conditioned office is welcoming and comfortable utilizing all safety protocols for Covid-19. Their years of experience in this area by owners, Louise and Danie, are unsurpassed. Even during these challenging times of Covid-19, a visit to Marloth Park may be the perfect holiday for singles, couples, and families. Besides, making friends, is easy and seamless in Marloth Park, even for the single traveler.

XMA Header Image
Exterior photo of the Info Centre in Marloth Park.

There is a fun-packed water park within the perimeters of Marloth Park, ideal for kids and families. See the link here for Bushveld Atlantis or contact Louise for more information. The prices for services, events, and activities are the same at The Info Centre as you’d find on your own, but you’ll have the benefit of Louise’s professional guidance and recommendations to ensure the activities you choose are suitable for your needs, desires, and safety requirements. Louise can also be reached: info@marlothkruger.com.

I’d like to mention that Louise’s husband Danie is a home builder of exceptional quality, creativity, and reasonable prices with outstanding references and homes he’s built that he can show prospective buyers illustrating the integrity of his work. He can also be reached at this email: info@marlothkruger.com or by phone: +27 0836559165.

We wandered indoors around 8:00 pm, a little earlier than usual, with the mozzies on a rampage for a taste of my vulnerable flesh. Although I thoroughly load up on repellent with DEET several times a day (the only repellent that protects me) and especially at dusk and in the dark, it became impossible for us to continue to be outdoors. Some nights are worse than others. Tom never gets bit or needs to use repellent. Go figure.

Today, after uploading this post, we’re heading to a house close to the Crocodile River where a woman is offering “free bananas” for anyone who’d like to come to get them. Most of the wildlife love bananas. So, off we go, before too long.

We have no big plans for today. Most locals are staying away from the restaurants due to Covid-19, although many have set up outdoor dining that is safe and suitable. Also with the sale of alcohol banned for several more weeks, many prefer to dine at home.

Today is day #10 of our self-imposed quarantine. Only four more days to go. But, even then, we’ll continue to be cautious about socializing and getting out, so it may not be much different than it is right now. In any case, we’re content and continue to be grateful we made it here to Marloth Park, our own little slice of Heaven.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 23, 2020:

Photo of Tom and his four sisters with whom we visited one year ago staying in Apache Junction, Arizona for almost two months. Two of his sisters weren’t able to travel to Arizona). From left to right (back row); Colleen, Tom, Mary Ellen with Rita, and Margie (front row). For more from that post, as we prepared to leave Arizona for India, please click here.

 

 

Final expenses for one year in India, including 10 months in the hotel in Mumbai…More fun photos…

The colors on the heads of Helmeted Guineafowls are bright and unseemly.
Yesterday afternoon, as promised, I got to work preparing the following numbers for our expenses incurred since we’d arrived in India on January 31, 2020, until we departed on January 11, 2021, a few weeks short of one year. Included, first, are the expenses for the train tour on the Maharajas Express, followed by the private tour we’d booked which began immediately after the one-week train tour of India. The second grouping is for the expenses while living in the hotel in Mumbai for 291 days.

Based on the fact we are now in South Africa, we included the money exchange into Rands (ZAR), from US dollars. If you are in another country and would like to see these numbers in your familiar currency, please click here for an easy link. This is simple to use but if you have any problems, feel free to ask us for assistance.

There are no less than three mating pairs of francolins in our garden.
Expenses  US Dollar  South African Rand (ZAR)
Maharajas Express Train Fare for 2                     11,996.00 177,694.35
Tips                          433.38 6,419.57
India Tour                      19,530.00 289,293.98
Dining Out                          115.43               1,709.84
Visa Fees – India for 2                         120.00 1,777.54
ATM fees                           24.30 359.95
Total                     32,219.11 477,255.23
Avg Daily Cost  53 days (6 nights train, tour, plus 4 nights hotel in Mumbai prior to lockdown)                           607.91 9,004.81

 

Expenses US Dollar

  South African Rand

Mumbai Hotel (10 months) inc. meals                       31,213.89 471,295.50
Tips                          1071.53 16,178.93
Supplies, pharmacy, toiletries & miscellaneous                          2515.06 37,963.31
Dining in restaurants     Included in hotel bill
Visa extension Fees – India for 2                           136.00 2,052.84
ATM fees                          18.25 275.47
Total                        34,954.73 527,175.31
Avg Daily Cost 291 nights                             120.15 1,812.06

Grand Total from above:                       67,173.84        1,012,797.96

Average Daily Cost 347 days                     193.51               2,917.60

We’re thrilled to have these numbers finally presented here. In actuality, it wasn’t that difficult to do since I had already recorded everything in our usual spreadsheet. All I had to do was convert the currency and figure out an easy to read format since numbers like this aren’t easy to format in a website such as ours.

Here are a few of our resident francolins, a mom, a dad, and two fast-growing chicks. In the past, we only had one mating pair at any given time.

As it turned out, we didn’t spend much more than we would have in a normal year of world travel with the exception of cruises. It’s those pricey cruises that always increase our annual expenses. We haven’t included our health insurance or insurance on our belongings which runs approximately another US $5300, ZAR 79,844.61 per year.

Also, we didn’t include purchases for clothing, digital equipment, our phone calling, and WiFi use (pay only for what we use on Google Fi plus US $17, ZAR 256.11, a month for the service). Also, we didn’t include annual fees for cloud services, website services, Ancestry.com, and various streaming services.

A young kudu male with lots of horns yet to grow.

Although we spend our days and nights on the veranda, when we go indoors for the night, we usually watch one streamed episode on my laptop, which we place atop a book on the bed. With no TV in the bedroom, we have no interest in sitting in front of the TV in the lounge room where it’s often very hot and “buggie” at night.

As most of you know, we only buy clothes when we’re in the US other than a few items we may desperately need from time to time. Right now, I have less clothing than I’ve had since we began traveling, but what I wear these days has become less of a concern for either of us over the years. As long as we have something clean and in reasonably good shape, we’re content.

A tentative young kudu looking over mom’s back, checking us out.

Thank goodness, here in Marloth Park, there’s no need for anything “dressy” and with the unlikelihood of cruising for the next year or two, we won’t even have to give our wardrobe a thought. We often wonder when cruising will be possible again and are surmising, that most likely, future cruises will require proof of vaccination.

With the slow pace of the prospect of vaccinations becoming available in South Africa, we may not be able to cruise for some time. It’s not looking promising. By the way, today is day #9 of our self-imposed quarantine with only 5 more days to go. As mentioned, we will have tremendous peace of mind when the 14 days have passed. We’re doing the Covid-19 quarantine countdown from the day we arrived in Marloth Park on January 13th, not the day we began the long journey on January 11th.

Of course, we will continue to exercise tremendous caution in wearing masks, social distancing, and handwashing until such time in the distant future that it’s not required to do so, whenever that may be, if ever. It’s hard to speculate.

Wildebeest Wille and Ms. Bossy Kudu getting along over pellets.

As soon as the vendor arrives with his truck at Louise and Danie’s office about five minutes from here, we’ll drive over to collect a 40 kg, 88 pounds, bag of sweet potatoes for the wildlife. Most of them love the small potatoes which the farmer gives away since they are too small for sale at the grocery stores. They are dirty and often attached to stems but the kudus, warthogs, and wildebeests love them. After all, they are used to grazing in the dirt anyway so this is normal for them.

That’s it for today, folks. It’s hard to believe we left India 11 days ago.

Stay safe and healthy!

Photo from one year ago today, January 22, 2020:

One year ago, we posted this photo we’d taken in 2013 while on a road trip. Bourke’s Luck Potholes which was definitely our favorite photo of the day on our three-day tour of the Panorama Route and Blyde River Canyon. See the year-ago post here.

 

 

 

Cute little visitors, relentless in their pursuit…Wildlife friends on the road…Sounds of nature…

Cute banded mongoose using a tree stump to pose for a photo.

Finally, this afternoon I will get to work on compiling our final expenses from our 10-month hotel stay in Mumbai, India. I don’t know why I’ve been putting this off. The only reason I can think of is how preoccupied and happy I am taking photos in our garden which backs up to Lionspruit, a game reserve within a  game reserve/conservancy here in Marloth Park where the two lions Dezi and Fluffy, live along with other wildlife, some of which prove to be a food source for them.

Another great pose on a rock. Mongooses are very clever. They know how to appear adorable in order to beg for eggs.

Lionspruit is described as follows from this site:

“Lionspruit Game Reserve is a 1500ha (hectare) nature reserve, a home to the big five which offers a true bushveld experience to the guests and residents of Marloth Park. Marloth Park is a wildlife conservation area, bordering Kruger National Park. The main species of game within Lionspruit Game Reserve are white rhino, Impala, Kudu, Zebra, and other small antelope, various mammals, reptiles and birdlife but Buffalo, Rhino and Lion are confined within the Lionspruit Game Reserve while the other wildlife can roam freely between Marloth Park and Lionspruit Game Reserve.

Currently, the reserve accommodates only day visitors. Various rangers patrol the reserve to monitor the animals and guard the animals against poachers as well as to monitor vegetation. Picnic spots are available for all visitors, but they need to be alert because lions roam around the area.”

Coincidences...Hilarious video interaction...Harrowing visit to Lionspruit game reserve...Busy weekend ahead... - WorldWideWaftage
Map of Lionspruit located within the borders of Marloth Park.

Surely, one night soon, as we sit on the veranda we’ll hear their roars when they make their way close to the fence that separates our piece of heaven from theirs. We hope to make a recording of those amazing sounds.

If that doesn’t work, let’s enhance the pose. “Banded Mongoose (Mungos mungo) males are only heavier than females during the immature stages. In adulthood,  both sexes are similar in size and mass, weighing about 1.5 kg. This Mongoose is characterized by triangular-shaped, pointed faces and flat broad ears. They have long bushy tails and a long, coarse coat. Coloration is grayish-brown with an unmistakable series of light and dark vertical bands across the back and flanks. Underparts are lighter with elegant dark legs.”

The mongooses in today’s photos, make a chirping little sound, especially when they are anxious for some eggs. The sound of the endless stream of birds in the bush is heard throughout the day, particularly, the sound of the African Morning Dove, whose relentless trill permeates the air day and night.

Tom delivered them a pan of raw scrambled eggs. They piled atop one another to partake in the treat. “Invertebrates constitute the major portion of the diet, particularly beetles and termites. Will occasionally also take larger prey such as rodents and snakes. Refuge dumps are often scavenged for edible tidbits. Banded Mongooses also feed on the eggs of ground-nesting birds and reptiles. They clasp the eggs with their front paws and throw them behind them to try and break them.”

During our past visits to Marloth Park, we had several resident Francolins. Now, we have a mating pair, their two growing chicks, and two other mating pairs. Often during the day and at dusk and every night without fail, they all begin their crazy loud song/chirping, unlike anything we’ve ever heard in our old lives. I’m sure one night soon, we’ll make a sound clip/video of those sounds, the nightly reminder that darkness is about to fall.

“The Banded Mongoose litters average 2.6 young per female. Within a pack, litters are produced in synchrony after a gestation period of eight to nine weeks. Collective nursing of offspring takes place. Breeding is normally restricted to the rainy season, and during her lifetime, a female averages 1.4 litters per year. 2 – 8 young are born in mid-summer and are blind and partly-haired. The eyes open after about 10 days.”

It’s so easy to sit here all day, getting up four times a day to walk on the treadmill, prepare a meal, do an occasional load of laundry or deal with recharging our digital equipment. Zef and Vusi washed, dried, and folded all of the musty clothes we had in our luggage for months.

Now,  with everything neatly folded and hung up in our respective closet areas in the master bedroom, we’re in great shape. I am using the chest of drawers in the second bedroom with an en suite bathroom which I use for showering and dressing. We sleep in the master bedroom, but having a separate bathroom for each of us is a treat.

Mongooses are known to attack and kill snakes. “The mongoose is known for its ability to fight and kill venomous snakes, especially cobras. Their specialized acetylcholine receptors render them immune to venom.”

Finally, we have two showers with floors that aren’t dangerously slippery, making showering all the more pleasant each day. Typical for the bush, the shower water pressure is low, but we manage just fine. The hot water is ultra-hot, so we are careful, but especially appreciate it for washing dishes, although we have a dishwasher we also use.

Yes, load shedding is a pain, especially when there’s no power or WiFi. Yes, the heat and humidity are outrageous and uncomfortable most days. Yes, the necessity to constantly keep an eye out for snakes or venomous insects is challenging. Yes, applying and reapplying DEET-laden repellent several times a day is an annoying must-do. (We opted not to take malaria prophylactics for such an extended period).

When we ventured out for a drive, we spotted zebras on the only paved road in Marloth Park, Olifant Rd.

And yes, not knowing when and if the Covid-19 vaccine will be available in South Africa is a huge source of concern, wondering when and if we can relax a little and not worry about it. All of these concerns are a part of living in this country, living in Africa, living in the bush. But, amid all of this, we are content, fascinated, and in awe of our surroundings, It will be grand when and if we all can socialize and be more at ease with others.

Zebra traffic jam…

In the interim, we all must continue to be diligent, to be careful, and maintain hope for our future. Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 21, 2020:

Staci and I by the entrance to the Red, White & Brew restaurant. The wine and food were excellent and the companionship was spectacular. Hopefully, we’ll meet up somewhere in the future. For more from that post, please click here.

 

 

Another stunning sighting…They come out at night…

At first, we were thrilled to see her climb up the table to eat the banana but later decided, we need to place the plate of bananas on the floor of the veranda.

I contemplated bringing back the daily feature “Sighting of the Day in the Bush’ as we’d done during the prior 18 months we lived in the bush during 2013, 2014, 2018, and 2019 Over the next week, we’ll keep an eye out for those special photo ops and if it makes sense, we’ll begin that feature once again.

Also, in 2013/2014, we featured “Small Things,” which, if we encounter sufficient small things now, we’ll add that feature on occasion with appropriate photos. Right now, we’re getting into the rhythm of finding those special photos to share each day. However, it feels as if, posting such special features is more difficult during the heat of the summer months.

The hottest of days, spent outdoors on the veranda, are sticky and uncomfortable seeming to put a damper on my creativity, although not my enthusiasm, to spend more time on my computer than usual. Right now, with the basic posts, managing and, downloading photos, editing, and fact-checking, occupies at least half of each day.

At first, we spotted her looking our way while clinging to a tree in our garden. “The Male Thick-Tailed Bushbabies regularly form sleeping groups with females and their young.”

The remainder of each day is spent taking photos, commiserating with the wildlife in our own way, responding to emails, comments, and messages, handling financial matters, cooking, and eventually, as we run low on groceries, venture out to shop in Komatipoort. We’ve been waiting to shop for the 14-day quarantine to pass. Right now, we have reached the first seven-days, with only seven more to go, since we arrived in Marloth Park. We began counting from the day we arrived, not the day we left India since any exposure we may have had, occurred during the 59 hour travel time.

It’s not as if we’ll spend any time in groups of people once our quarantine ends. We’ll only visit with our usual friends whom we know have been cautious, while we’ll still wear masks and social distance. I am tentative about heading to Komatipoort to shop for groceries on the 27th. But, we can’t expect Louise to do all of our grocery shopping.

Thick-tailed bushbabies are three times the size of the smaller bushbabies. We couldn’t believe how brazen she was. She had no fear of us. “The Thick-Tailed Bushbaby is a nocturnal primate with child-like cries, which gave cause for the English vernacular name. Probably due to its diet and larger body size, this is the most social of all known bushbabies.”

Unfortunately, we can’t buy too much at one time with the possibility of load shedding hovering over our heads, day after day. If the power goes out for too many hours, we could lose everything we purchased. There is much to consider when one lives in the bush. But, we’re doing well in figuring it all out, as we always do.

An area of concern, once we arrived here, was being able to get in enough walking to maintain my previous level of fitness achieved from walking in the corridors in Mumbai for the past 10 months. As much as I’d enjoy walking on the roads here in Marloth Park, I don’t feel comfortable.

After the two surgeries on my legs in 2019, as a result of infections after open-heart surgery, I am not quite as sure-footed as I used to be. Walking alone on the uneven dirt roads in the park could present a tripping issue for me. Besides, there are often leopards and lions on the loose and although I love the wildlife, I certainly wouldn’t want to encounter such a predator while on a walk.

After her adventures on the table, she climbed down to forage for more to supplement her diet with insects, fruit, and leaves.

The locals seem to have no qualms about walking on the roads during daylight hours since most predators roam at night. There is a 6:00 pm curfew here at night. But, I needed a back-up plan. With Louise‘s help on Facebook yesterday, she found a local homeowner with an excellent treadmill she wasn’t using, The rate was very fair at ZAR 1800, USD $121 for three months. We didn’t flinch to pay this amount, knowing how important it is for me to continue to walk.

This morning, our helpers delivered it and I’ve already completed my first session. My plan is to use the treadmill every two hours during the day, to keep me from sitting too long. After all the walking in India, you’d think a treadmill would be easy but, I definitely will have to work my way up to a decent speed, checking my pulse frequently. Of course, I will be careful.

We were excited to share today’s photos from Monday night when we had a rambunctious visit from the thick-tailed bushbaby that dwells in our garden. She came right up onto the table and ate a plateful of mashed bananas we’d put out in case any bushbabies came to visit. Then, when she pooped and peed all over the table, which we cleaned after she left, we decided, going forward, we’ll place the banana plate on the floor of the veranda, not on the table.

I wish we had a photo of the most hysterical thing she did while on the table. Using her funny little “hands” she picked up my wine glass and tried to take a sip. I immediately grabbed it out of her hands, all the while laughing. We wish we had a photo of that, but it’s not always possible to react quickly enough for animal antics.

Have a good day! Stay safe!

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

A two-year ago photo of an Egyptian Goose on the far shore of the Sunset Dam in Kruger National Park. For more on the year-ago post, as we prepared to leave the US to head to India, please click here.

 

 

 

 

We knew the risk, but it happened sooner than expected!…Terrifying visitor!..Exciting too!…

As I stepped out outside onto the veranda, this is what I encountered. Tom was sitting very close to this snake eating a frog and had no idea the snake was there.

When we wrote about the challenges of living in Africa, we mentioned three areas of concern; excessive heat, venomous insects (non-venomous don’t concern us), and snakes. Since arriving in South Africa last Wednesday afternoon, we’ve experienced the heat (over 100F, 38C, a few scary insects and yesterday, wouldn’t you know, a highly venomous snake within 1 foot, 30 cm from me, and 3 feet, 3 1 meter, from Tom.

This was quite an opportunity, to catch a snake in the process of eating a frog.

I spotted it first when opening the push-out screen door to return from inside the house to the veranda. I didn’t make a sound other than to alert Tom, who was very close as well. The first thing we noticed was that he had a frog halfway down his throat. That was quite a sight to see, resulting in today’s included photos. This wasn’t our first up-close and personal experience with a venomous snake, a Mozambique Spitting Cobra, while here in 2014. Click here for that post.

Our hands weren’t as steady as we’d have liked when we spotted this so close to us.

Gingerly, we both backed away, still keeping an eye on it. Of course, adding to the excitement was the fact he was eating the frog and his mouth was preoccupied. Perhaps, that fact was our protection. With his mouth full, he couldn’t bite us. Yikes!

We knew we needed to call Juan (pronounced John), the young master snake handler whom we knew from our past 15 months in Marloth Park in 2018-2019. His family owns Daisy’s Den, the local feed and supply store. We’d attended snake-handling school with Juan in 2018. From that class and more, he became the skilled handler and we became the knees-knocking neophytes. All we could think of was contacting him as soon as possible.

After swallowing his meal, he slithered up the chair where Tom had previously been sitting, drinking his coffee.

Our snake school experience in 2018 and the subsequent story we posted at that time, here, made us suspect it was a highly venomous Boomslang based on its bright green appearance. We took a photo and sent it to Louise knowing she’d respond quickly to our request for Juan to come out as soon as possible. Now, we have his business card in our possession at all times and his number on both of our phones so we can call him directly in the future.

Here’s a photo from our snake school experience at this link on March 12, 2018:

Chris, the instructor in March 2018, from this post here, was handling the highly venomous snake, the Boomslang. Males are green and females are brown. However, it’s nearly impossible to determine the sex of most other snakes when both genders are typically identical in appearance. “The Boomslang (Dispholidus typus) is an extremely dangerous, venomous snake species found in sub-Saharan Africa in the central and southern regions of the continent. The Boomslang is most abundant in Botswana, Swaziland, Namibia, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe, but the species has been reported as far north as southern Chad and Nigeria, and as far east as eastern Guinea. However, they are found here in South Africa as well.

Going forward, we’ll always keep at least one of our phones outside with us on the veranda at any given time, instead of charging in the house. Based on the fact the snake was hovering near the door to the house, it would have been impossible to get inside to get the phone without serious risk. He’d finally swallowed the frog whole and we could see it waiting to be digested in his body as a big bulge.

At one point, he crawled up the window but came back down to rest on the back of the chair.

(I am referring to the snake as a “he” when in fact, the male Boomslangs are green and the females are brown).

Louise immediately responded asking us that we take a photo which she’d forward it to Juan. In less than, two minutes, Louise informed us that Juan was on his way. It was the dreaded Boomslang, the third most venomous snake in Africa, the first being the Black Mamba, the second, the Puff adder, and the third, the Boomslang.

He preferred the chair over the window.

In a matter of minutes, Juan pulled into the driveway and headed directly to the back of the house to the veranda, where we still stood a distance keeping an eye on the snake to ensure it wouldn’t get away. Handlers never kill a snake.

Once he arrived, immediately confirming it was a Boomslang, he grabbed the snake several inches behind its head with the snake grabbers, and with his free hand, he grabbed the snake’s tail. He then placed it in a plastic container with air holes, and tightly positioned the lid to take the snake to an even more remote area than Marloth Park.

Mr. Boomslang was posing for the camera.

Juan’s service is complimentary, but like most, we insisted he accepts a generous tip for his professional efforts, so perfectly executed. In less than 10 minutes Juan was on his way with the snake firmly ensconced in the plastic bucket. Of course, we were a little startled by the presence of the snake, which reminded us to be all the more careful and observant going forward.

Juan is capturing the snake with his grabbers to later be relocated to another wildlife area.

A snake could lie in wait anywhere; on a wall, on the ceiling, on a railing or piece of furniture, under a bed, in a bed, or simply slivering across a floor. Nowhere in the house or in the garden is exempt from attracting a snake. Caution must be exercised at every turn, every moment, and upon entering a room.

Juan positioned it so we could take this photo before placing him in the plastic bucket.

Last night while on the veranda in the dark, we placed two rechargeable lanterns at different spots on the floor to ensure we could see all areas of the veranda. We are more mindful now than ever.

To contact Juan’s Reptile Rescue and Identification, call 060 665 5000 or email: debeer.juan@yahoo.com

“Our” visitor in a large plastic bucket ready to be relocated. Bye, snake.

This is Africa. This is to be expected here and when careful, it’s all a part of the adventure.  I must admit, we were excited to share this story and photos with all of you today!

Stay safe from whatever comes your way!

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

On our way to the alpaca farm in New Plymouth, New Zealand on this date in 2016, we stopped at a few scenic overlooks in the rain. For the year-ago story, please click here.

 

 

 

It’s a wonderful life…

This is a thick-tailed bushbaby that visited us last night in the dark. It happened so quickly I had no time to set the camera for the nighttime view, but we were happy to see this special creature who usually makes an appearance at night.

If anyone owns a Chromebook you know how difficult it is to manipulate and edit photos. Oh, what I’d give to have my old Windows 8 laptop (we didn’t like Windows 10, either) with the ability to make folders on the desktop, to store and easily edit photos. To become proficient at these processes requires an entirely new learning curve. And, although I am a fairly quick study when it comes to digital equipment, my level of interest in learning this bulky process escapes me.

This male warthog is, by far, the largest warthog we have ever seen. This morning Tom named him, Tiny. He’s already become a regular.

At this point in time, I am only interested in savoring our surroundings, taking and sharing photos of our stunning discoveries, preparing our daily posts, and cooking a quick and easy meal on the gas grill (Tom does this part while I prep the food). With the wonderful help of Zef and Vusi, we don’t have to clean, make the bed, sweep, dust, clean bathrooms,  or even do laundry since they do it all.

Tiny is somewhat friendly, although a little scared since he’s only now getting to know us.

Right now, I have the washer going with one load of two I’ll do today to lessen the amount of wash they’ll be doing. Everything in our luggage, which we never unpacked in India, smells musty and must be washed. A few days ago, they did almost half of it. They fold so much better than I do, so it’s nice to hand it over.

Tiny posed for a photo.

It’s not as if we did much in those 10 months in the hotel, other than hand washing our clothing. Had we handed it over to the hotel to do, it would easily have cost us a fortune, as much as US $100, ZAR 1527, a week. Our clothing survived and we’re no worse for the wear (no pun intended).

It’s hard to resist the request for pellets from the bright-eyes kudus.

Speaking of “no worse for the wear,” when speaking with my friend Chere in Minnesota last night while Tom and I sat on the veranda, sipping an adult beverage and waiting for more wildlife, she suggested we write about how we feel about our India experience, what we learned in those 10 months and how we can use those lessons going forward. Great suggestions, Chere.

They venture right onto the veranda without hesitation but for safety reasons, we encourage them to back up. After all, these are huge wild animals.

However, at this point in time, having dwelled on the challenges of that long lockdown with our readers for months, we’re both ready to put it behind us, as we’re certain our readers prefer to do as well. The only thing we learned about ourselves (sorry, we aren’t more insightful) was that our level of determination to get back to our happy place far superseded our discomfort in that hotel room.

Wildebeest Willie is easily recognizable since he’s missing the tip of his right horn.

Now, we are pleased with ourselves for doing exactly what we wanted to do to ensure we’d get here, 59 hours of travel and all. No regrets. Not a one. For us, it just goes to prove if we want something bad enough, sheer will, determinations and careful planning can pave the way for us to achieve our goals.

Wildebeest Willie is so at home, he now naps here.

We aren’t heroes. We aren’t brave. There’s nothing special about us. We simply wanted something that was important to us and we were willing to wait for it. That’s what we learned. I suppose in a way, we knew this all along. After all, we gave up our familiar lives to fulfill a dream of a lifetime.

Is this my place at the table? What’s for dinner?

And now, here in Marloth Park, unencumbered with responsibility, other than to share our photos and stories with each of our worldwide readers on a daily basis, life is once again simple and uncomplicated. Of course, right now, we’re anxious for the 14-day self-quarantine to pass from those scary 59 hours with 9 days remaining of quarantine as of today.

Sharing among friends. There’s enough for everyone!

Once that ends, we’ll be even more excited to be here, of course, while continuing to exercise strict adherence to Covid-19 safety protocols.

A very exciting post will be upcoming tomorrow when we had a terrifying visit from a predator!  Please check back then and brace yourself, as we did!

Happy day!

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

Two years ago today, we visited Kruger National Park to see this elephant family crossing the road with a few babies protected by the parade. For more photos, please click here.

 

daya day assigned to a particular purpose or observanceMore (Definitions, Synonyms, Translation)

 

 

 

 

19 hour power outage due to electrical storm plus load shedding and no WiFi…The beat goes on…

Young male kudu reaching to grab some leaves off a tree.

As I began to prepare today’s post we’d been out of power for the past 19 hours starting at 4:30 pm Saturday. Last night, a storm came through and knocked out a transformer several kilometers from here. We have no WiFi after the inverter also quit working and subsequently no WiFi. The power finally came back on at  1:00 pm today.

Adorable female bushbuck.

I wrote most of today’s post off-line in an attempt to be ready to post shortly after the power returned,  Mostly, we were worried about the food in the refrigerator. This morning, Tom cooked the burgers we had planned for tonight’s dinner on the gas grill which we had for lunch instead of dinner. Louise suggested we put all the perishables in the freezer hoping they will survive until power was restored and it appears they did.

What a handsome face with young horns.

Are we upset about this? Not at all. This is the bush in Africa, not Palm Beach, and one must expect these situations to occur on a fairly consistent basis. In any case, this is a whole lot better than sitting in a hotel room in Mumbai, India. Right now, we’re situated on the veranda, enjoying various visitors, as well as Mr. & Mrs. Hornbill building their nest in a bushbaby house that they’ve taken over.

Kudus often visit in a family and/or social group, referred to as forkl

It’s cooler today after the rains, although still very humid, typical for the bush. But, we’re fine. It’s nice to see the bush is a little greener this morning after the downpour, creating more food for the wildlife. After all, it’s summer here now. January is equivalent to July in the Northern Hemisphere, so we have months to go until it cools down.

They certainly know how to grab at our hearts with their adorable faces and big eyes.

In the interim, we’re both handling the heat as well as we can, which is often as high as 108F, 42C, during daylight hours and dropping only slightly at night. After spending 10 months in air-conditioned comfort in that hotel room, it’s taken us a few days to adapt to the temperature differences. But, now, we’re good.

This male kudu was so bold he came up onto the veranda.

There is air conditioning in the two bedrooms here, none elsewhere in the house. Due to frequent power issues and the expense of running air-con, few, if any Marloth Park residents have or use full house air-con which is common in the US. Whether it’s power outages, load shedding, snakes, scary-looking insects, flies, ants, and bees, we’re prepared to handle it all.

Scratch that itch!

Certainly, being here wouldn’t be ideal for some nor may this lifestyle fulfill their objectives for holiday/vacation time. For us, it’s a way of life that is totally befitting our desires and interests. We thrive in this environment. Will we be able to do this as we age, making our way into our 80’s or more (God willing)? The answer to that will be entirely predicated by how well we care for our health, a goal we strive to achieve each and every day of our lives.

We took all of these photos at different times throughout a single day.

For now, we are grasping at every morsel Mother Nature tosses our way, whether it is Wildebeest Willie, who was here all morning and rested for hours in the bush near us, his big tail swishing every few minutes to bat off the flies, or a flower blooming among the thorns of the sickle bush trees, it all matters to us.

Now, totally off two blood pressure medications as of the past month, checking it today, as I do every so often, I was reassured by my state of relaxation and low stress, at a measly 114/60. Peace, pleasure, and purpose can bring each of us a state of being that is not only good for our health but also, our state of mind and spirit.

Kudus are determined to get what they want and will literally stare us down until we comply.

And our purpose? What is that? Are we doing this entirely for our own personal pleasure? Believe me, spending over half of each day writing and taking photos to share with all of you gives us tremendous purpose when hundreds, if not thousands, of readers worldwide, write to us explaining how the minutiae of our day-to-day lives somehow give them a moment to pause and enjoy nature, culture, people, and more, right along with us.

We never tire of spending time with kudus, from the antelope family. They don’t have antlers. Instead, they have horns which they do not shed.

Yes, selfishly, we revel in your kind comments as a wave of warmth passes over us each time we read such an expression. But we’ve found that, in some small way, we may contribute to a moment of joy for others as they “traveling along with us.” So today, we thank you for your kindness and support as we extend our love and caring for all of you.

Without all of you, we may never have lasted this long, over 8 years, on this seemingly never-ending journey which we blissfully continue here in Africa, once again. It calls to us. It calls to many of you. It’s grand to be “home.”

Be well.

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

Two years ago today, Ken set up the camera on a timer to take this photo of all 10 of us as we celebrated Rita’s birthday at our place.! Fantastic! For more about the year-ago post, please click here.