Hello, my Africa…It’s good to be back where we belong…

Today’s photos were taken at dusk resulting in less clear images. We will work on improving our photos in the future!

What can I say? How we feel is beyond description. At the moment, we’re seated at the big wooden table on the ground-level veranda with nary a railing, overlooking the bush parklands, rife with wildlife. No sooner than we opened the screened (yeah!) sliding door, they were here, albeit tentatively, wondering who we are and what we may have in store for them.

We served up treats from a 40 kg, 88-pound bag of pellets already opened last night for the stream of visitors that arrived only moments after we did. Sitting by the fabulous braai, a South African fire pit, we gasped in awe of the treasures our eyes beheld, one species after another, including seven giraffes at our driveway, several kudus, warthogs, guinea fowl, bushbucks, and more.

Then, this morning, they all returned, perhaps others than those from last night, anxious to see who will be their new neighbors. Besides, this is their land, not ours, and in reality, we are the visitors, not them. Ah, the number of times we’ve said in our posts, “Pinch me, is this real?”

And now, I repeat this, with as much, if not more enthusiasm than ever. At times, I wondered if the excitement would be as profound as it was in the prior 18 months we spent in Marloth Park over the past eight-plus years. But, if anything, it was more.

The ten months in the hotel room in India catapulted us to a new level of appreciation and gratitude, one we thought we could never achieve, after all the exquisite experiences since the onset of our travels in 2012. But, here we are now, reeling with pure joy to be back where we belong.

The familiarity we felt as we drove from Nelspruit after our three full days of travel was comforting as we began the long final drive toward Gate 2 in Marloth Park, around 3:00 pm yesterday, where the guards at the gate gave us a one-month pass to hang on the rearview mirror with offers for more in months to come. We knew we were “home.”

We drove to Louise and Danie’s beautiful Information Center to be greeted with enthusiasm we so cherish, with them as such great friends for the past seven years, during which we always stayed in close touch when we were away. We sat at their gorgeous bar, commiserating for a few hours until finally, it was time to come to our new home.

We knew the house was small, a single story with two bedrooms, two en-suite bathrooms, a spacious lounge/living room, a dining room with a  fantastic table and upholstered chairs, and a good-sized modern kitchen with a countertop with bar stools, well-equipped with everything we’ll need.

Louise grocery shopped for us, putting everything away as we would have. She knows us so well after all these years. Soon, we’ll prepare our first meal, steak on the braai. Is it any wonder we’ll be eating beef for the next several days? We weren’t hungry for breakfast this morning, and last night, we didn’t bother with dinner. Instead, we had a small plate of good cheeses to share, along with water and iced tea.

We had good luck during the three travel days, which included the following details Tom compiled this morning::

“Three flights; the first from Mumbai, to Dubai, 2 hours 45 minutes with a 16-hour layover. A second flight from Dubai to Johannesburg is an 8 hour 45-minute flight with a 26-hour layover. The third flight from Johannesburg to Nelspruit (Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport), 45 minutes.
Then, the rental car drive, from Nelspruit to Marloth Park, 1 hour 30 mins.
Three flights       12 hours 15 minutes
Two layovers   42 hours
One drive           1 hour 30 minutes
Total travel time from door to door was 59 hours, which included hotel departures, shuttles, waiting at airports, and spending time working on three months of car rentals at the Budget counter in Nelspruit.
If anyone had asked me a few years ago if we’d be open to 59 hours of travel time to anywhere, we would have said it was too challenging, even for “sturdy us.” But, as we all know, motivation and purpose are powerful drivers, and we’re grateful we stuck to our commitment to return to South Africa instead of “giving up” and returning to the US at this time.
And here we are, sitting together, in touch with each other’s needs, wants, and joys, as always. After those ten trying months, nothing has diminished the strength of our love and commitment to one another. We’re still “stuck like glue.”
Again, thanks to everyone for the endless stream of good wishes. There will never be enough time to reply to every one of you, but please know we appreciate every single one of you.
Stay safe. Be well. Be happy.
Photo from one year ago today, January 14, 2020:
This hornbill from a photo taken in 2019 decided to look at her reflection in the glass of the little red car, assuming it was another Hornbill, perhaps a possible mate. For more from the year-ago post, please click here.

Comments and responses Hello, my Africa…It’s good to be back where we belong…

  1. Thelma May

    I am so happy for you! To have so many animals come to greet you must have been pure heaven. Enjoy your days and keep the pictures coming. Can’t wait till you start naming your visitors! Thanks again for sharing your adventures with us. You put a smile in my face this morning!

    • worldwide-admin Post author

      Thelma May, you put a smile on our faces. with your sweet comments. We will make every effort not to disappoint. Stay safe and healthy.
      Hugs,
      Jess & Tom

    • worldwide-admin Post author

      Jambo, to you dear friend. We drove by your house today. All looked fine! Hope to see you soon!
      Hugs,
      Jess & Tom

    • worldwide-admin Post author

      Merrill, thank you so much! It is the beginning of a new season in our lives. Thank you for traveling along with us.

      Warmest regards,
      Jess & Tom

  2. Susan Anderson

    VERY HAPPY for you two…….now for some sound nights sleep well overdo….deep breathes!

    On another note, pics are not showing up for some reason.

    • worldwide-admin Post author

      Susan, thank you so much. We finally caught up on sleep and now with our website working ok and photos showing, we can relax and enjoy ourselves. Yes, deep breaths. We are so grateful we made it here in time. Emirates suspended flights to South After 3 days after we arrived.

      Stay safe and healthy,
      Jess & Tom

    • worldwide-admin Post author

      Lisa, I am finally getting around to replying to comments. So much to deal with our photo issues when we arrived. But, all is fine now and we can go about the business of enjoying our freedom and sharing it all with you.

      Warmest regards,
      Jess & Tom

    • worldwide-admin Post author

      Sandra, amid a little madness in getting here and getting settled, we are thrilled to be here. Thanks for writing and for reading our posts.

      Warmest regards,
      Jess

    • worldwide-admin Post author

      Sandy, thank you so much to welcome us back. We can’t believe we finally made it here. Only one more week of quarantine and we’ll be able to move out and about a little.

      Stay safe and healthy!
      Jess & Tom

  3. Nancy Boe

    So happy you may the long trip without running into any real problems. Sorry we didn’t get any photos today just your comments below what would have been a picture. Guess it could have been my phone but I did get the hornbill.

    • worldwide-admin Post author

      Nancy, all should be fine now on the past posts and the post going forward. We’re looking forward to sharing many more wildlife photos from our favorite place in the world.

      Stay safe and healthy,
      Jess & Tom

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