Final Kruger photos…

It isn’t easy to fully appreciate the tiny size of this baby elephant in this photo. It was so sweet to see this little one.

On this date, one year ago, Covid-19 (Omicron) was detected on the cruise during the transatlantic crossing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Southampton, England. Five days later, we tested positive, along with many other passengers. We were extra careful upon hearing about the outbreak, but we still interacted with other guests during meals and at the bars at night. We weren’t careful enough.

It’s only been in the past two weeks, almost a full year later, that finally, I am free of most of the symptoms of long-haul Covid. I can confidently say that after a 10-day course of Prednisone, my headache and facial pain are gone, gone, gone. I’m still suffering from allergy symptoms, but mainly, I believe these started when I got Covid and haven’t gone away during this high allergy time in the bush.

Wildebeest family.

Dust, dust mites, pollen, and grasses are the allergens that impact me the most after being tested over 40 years ago. I was on a seven-year regime of weekly immunological injections, but I believe that after all this time, the efficacy has worn off. At this point, leaving two weeks from today, I expect the allergy symptoms to diminish in short order once we leave the bush.

Doc Theo put me on a few new allergy meds that are keeping me from being miserable after the Prednisone wore off, which I’ll continue to take once we arrive in Florida, hoping I can eventually wean myself off of them. But Florida is also a hotbed of allergens, so we’ll see how it goes. At least, I’ll be well-armed with the few meds that I know help to some degree.

This time, leaving Marloth Park isn’t as hard as it’s been in the past, except for leaving our wonderful friends and, of course, our animal friends, mainly Norman, and family. Nina and Natalie have visited daily during the school holidays, but Nomran stayed away for one whole week, only returning at least five times yesterday. I can only imagine what he’d been eating.

A lone elephant was grazing in the grass..

Norman’s belly looked full. He’d been eating well…not necessarily healthfully, but certainly in volume. We knew he wasn’t hiding away during the commotion made by holidaymakers when almost every day, we saw photos of him on Facebook posted by tourists rather than locals whose names we would recognize and who often post animal photos on Marloth Park Sighting Page.

Norman and family are the only nyalas in Marloth Park, including their son Noah, who was forced to find a new territory of his own when Natalie was born five or six months ago. When visitors see them, they often take photos and post them on Facebook. So, Norman stayed away for seven days, but at least we felt comfortable that the lions hadn’t gotten to him when we saw the photos online.

A lone zebra in the savannah.

When he showed up yesterday, I was beside myself with joy. Nina and Natalie were with him, and we fed them lots of pellets and healthy produce. I stayed busy off and on during the day, cutting up carrots and apples and tossing them to him and the girls as they patiently waited in the garden. If a nyala can look happy, Norman did, staring into my eyes, paying more attention to me than the food.

You may scoff at this assessment, but connecting with these animals here is not much different from connecting with your dog. In a short time, they learn the name we’ve given them and the sounds of our voices, even keywords that mean something special to them, such as food offerings and affection. No, we never touch him or the other animals.

The beautiful scene at Verhami Dam.

Norman’s massive horns could eviscerate a human in seconds, as could any male bushbuck, kudu, male or female wildebeest, or other horned animals in the wild. A warthog’s tusks are razor-sharp; these and other animals could easily kill a human if provoked or even startled. We proceed with caution and respect for the fact that they are truly wild.

Many criticize the animals here for having an easy life in Marloth Park, with plenty of vegetation and humans feeding them pellets. But, there are numerous leopards and currently eight lions in Marloth Park. Carcasses are often found as remnants of a meal of a big cat kill.  All the wildlife has to stay diligent in preventing being taken out. There are warning calls when such predators have been spotted, and we’ve heard those sounds from time to time.

Our last trip over the Crocodile Bridge as we exited Kruger National Park in the next 14 months.

We continue to hear from more and more residents of The Villages who’d like to get together, many of whom have been reading our site for years. One couple is from the town where we lived in Minnesota almost 11 years ago. Wow! This is exciting. Rita and Gerhard are connecting us with some old friends who live there. Please keep the messages coming from people who’ve found us through our site or other friends.

Tonight, we’re off to Jabula again for what surely will be another fun night like last night and others before that. We’re never disappointed, not in the people, not in the staff, and not in the fantastic food.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 15, 2022:

Finally, the ship’s chef got my dinner right with this delicious seafood dish. For more photos, please click here.

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