Nothing compares to you…Each and every one of you…

We encountered this stunning scene of zebras and wildebeest from the fence at Marloth Park. One reason zebras and wildebeests hang out is that they love to eat the taller grass and wildebeest the shorter grass – it’s a type of symbiosis. There is no competition regarding food. Also, wildebeests have a better sense of hearing, while zebras can see very well. Another reason is zebras and wildebeest prefer to be in the open savannahs…the concept of safety in numbers comes into play. It’s always great to have an ally to warn of any impending danger.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Hippo being escorted by a family of Egyptian geese.

It’s Thursday afternoon, and we just returned from a shopping trip to Komatipoort. With plenty of meat, chicken, and fish still on hand in the freezer, we only needed to round out our meals for the upcoming week.

Wildebeest are so expressive. They literally stop whatever they’re doing to make eye contact.

On November 17th, we’re hosting a small dinner party for 10 to 12 friends to celebrate US Thanksgiving, which is actually on Thursday, November 22nd in the US.

Originally, we planned this event as our “going away” dinner party for close friends when we thought we might have to leave South Africa due to visa issues.  

“The hippopotamus is often cited as the most dangerous large animal in the world, killing an estimated 500 people a year in Africa.”

However, after we recently applied (and are awaiting a response) for an extension, we realized we might be able to leave and immediately return if our extension isn’t approved. We should have a response in the next two weeks.

Having an opportunity to takes photos of these unusual animals is exciting.

Thus, we decided to go ahead and have the Thanksgiving dinner party anyway for friends who are currently in the park and played a significant role in including us in their social life over almost nine months we’ve been in Marloth Park.

The typical Thanksgiving meal is relatively easy to make since most cooks have all the recipes for the traditional items in their heads. There’s no need to look up and follow complicated recipes.

“Unlike most other semiaquatic animals, the hippopotamus has very little hair. The skin is 6 cm (2 in) thick, providing great protection against conspecifics and predators. By contrast, its subcutaneous fat layer is thin.”

Unfortunately, finding ingredients for those items is a pointless task. The local stores don’t carry turkeys, let alone the canned pumpkin for the pumpkin pies and many other ingredients I used over the years.  

 “When hippos sleep in the water during the day, they generally prefer to sleep in areas of shallower water. … Hippo, as mentioned, are very closely related to whales and dolphins, and similar to these other aquatic animals, hippos sleep with only one half of their brain at a time.”

So, we have to improvise: stuffed chickens instead of turkey, frozen cranberries, not fresh, local sausage for the stuffing instead of sage flavored sausages found in the US.  It goes on and on.

Tomorrow, I’m making a “test” pumpkin pie using the only pumpkin we could find, which is frozen. I’ll defrost it, thoroughly drain it, and put it into the food processor to see if I can get the proper consistency. We’ll report back on how this goes.

“A good point of distinction occurs around the differing geographical distribution of the Cape buffalo and Water buffalo. As its name suggests, the African buffalo is distributed throughout the African continent, whereas the Water buffalo is native to Asian countries.”

Of course, Tom will be the sole taster and recipient of the “test” pumpkin pie. As a picky eater, I assure you that everyone else will as well if he likes it. As always, the pie crust will be made from scratch, but there’s no rolling pin anywhere to be found. Do people roll dough anymore?

A tower of giraffes on the Sabie River embankment.

Instead, I’ll wash the exterior of a wine bottle and use it as the rolling pin. This definitely will work but will require a little more enthusiastic rolling. I’m good at this task.

Thanks to Louise, who picked up frozen cranberries and spices in Nelspruit this week, and friend Kathy (of Kathy and Don), who made multiple trips to various markets in Hawaii, California, and Pretoria, many of which will fill in the blanks on many of the side dishes.

Mom and baby hippo grazing along the river’s edge.

Authenticity?  Not so much. In reality, the Pilgrims didn’t make many of the side dishes that have become traditional in the US. Over the past centuries, recipes have been passed down from family to family and have become a part of the standard and traditional Thanksgiving meal items.

The challenge of making this meal both traditional and delicious clearly fits into my wheelhouse. Hopefully, everything will be as close to the traditional meal as possible, and if not, the new tastes act as good alternatives.

Next week, I’ll post the menu for our Thanksgiving meal, and if time allows, take photos of the meal on the day of the party and post them here the following day.

A female lion is on the lookout for the next meal.

This afternoon, we’re beginning the process of researching for future travel plans.  We have several holes to fill in our itinerary, but over these past 9 months, we’ve been preoccupied with “living in the moment” in this magical place. It’s time to get back to it!

Tonight, we’re heading to Ngwenya with new friends Rita and Gerhard for the Thursday night buffet and back to Jabula with them on Saturday night.  

Unfortunately, they’ll be gone for a few weeks and won’t be able to join us for the Thanksgiving meal. After living in the US for the past 30 years, this surely was a tradition in their home.

Have a special day filled with wonderful surprises.

Photo from one year ago today, November 8, 2017:

One must walk carefully on the uneven sidewalks in Atenas, Costa Rica, and many other towns worldwide. For more photos, please click here.

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