Holiday festivities in the bush…A Christmas visitor came to call..Little did we know…A scary adventure from our recent past…


Not wanting to alarm this visiting kudu when we left the house to get into the car to go out for Christmas dinner, we interpreted this as a Reindeer visitor.  Practically, holding our breath, we took this photo with the carport support post in the way in the hopes of not scaring him off.

With no Christmas tree, no decorations, no gifts to unwrap, no big dinner to cook and no friends and family stopping by, it was a different kind of Christmas for us, living in the bush in South Africa.

The temperature in the steamy low 90’s F, 33’s C, it hardly felt like the Christmases we once knew and loved.  We’re not complaining. It was different.

The kudu’s neck will enlarge during the mating season. From the looks of our visitor, mating season must be imminent. Look at the muscles on this big guy, males can weigh as much or more than 700 pounds, 318 kg. This one was smaller than many we’ve seen weighing perhaps in the 500 pounds, 227 kg range. Kudus can easily scale a 5 foot, 1.5 meter wall.

And, different can be good, if one can find alternate means of enjoying the holiday season. Fortunately, thrown into our laps were two situations that proved to make both Christmas Eve and Christmas day special in a manner we never imagined.  

Call it “serendipitous” if you will, or merely our good fortune. By Monday morning, we had no plans other than attending a midday buffet at Jabula Lodge, which was fine with us. By Monday afternoon, it all began to change.

View from Kathy and Don’s third floor veranda, overlooking the Crocodile River.

Little did we know, we’d be invited for Christmas Eve to the home of Kathy and Don, people we’d never met, long time homeowners in Marloth Park, who’s gorgeous home overlooks the scenic Crocodile River for a fabulous evening of laughter and story telling of mutual world travels and more.

Little did we know, that as we walked out the door at noon to drive to Jabula Lodge for Christmas dinner, that a giant kudu would be standing at the edge of our carport staring at us, reminding us of a reindeer, it’s massive antlers swirling high into the air.  

Kathy suggested we start putting food out for the bush babies whom we’ve yet to see in our yard at night.  We’ve feared doing so may attract the destructive baboons, who love hanging out on our veranda when we’re not home.

Stopping dead in our tracks, I slowly reached into my handbag to grab the camera. I was so excited, I could barely take a good photo. Nonetheless, albeit less than ideal, with the pole in the middle of the shot, we got a few. For 15 minutes, we watched him as he lumbered about our yard, nibbling on the lush vegetation, finally taking off into the deep bush and no longer visible.

As we drove off Tom claimed, “Oh, I arranged that for your Christmas gift.” I chuckled, saying, “There’s no gift that I’d have enjoyed more.”

Little did we know, a short time later when we arrived for the buffet at Jabula Lodge that we’d be seated with yet another fabulous couple, Piet and Hettie, also Marloth Park homeowners, with whom we spent the better part of the day enjoying fabulous conversation. Later, we hugged goodbye, with hopes of getting together again before they leave to depart for their second home, a three hour drive from Marloth Park.

We’ll never tire of the adorable face of a giraffe with its cheeks stuffed with greenery, this one captured in our neighborhood.

As we returned home, we couldn’t wipe the smiles off of our faces. In awe, not only in the wildlife visitors in Marloth Park, but also in the realization that people in Marloth Park are unlike any we’ve met anywhere, friendly and open to making new friends.  

After returning home, we watched a movie from Graboid, “Captain Phillips, a story about pirates boarding and taking over a cargo/container ship out to sea in the Gulf of Aden.  

It was in this exact location that we’d sailed on May 17, 2013 with the necessity of sharp shooters boarding our ship with automatic weapons to secure our sailing through the Gulf of Aden, as told in our story at this link. Watching this movie brought it all back for us, an adventure we’ll never forget.

Little did we know, that traveling the world would present situations, people, culture, wildlife and nature to us in a manner we could never have anticipated. For us, this has been the gift that “keeps giving” for which we are eternally grateful and for which, we promise ourselves, that we’ll never stop appreciating. Little did we know

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