The kindness and generosity of special people…

Louise and Danie dropped off this beautiful knife set this morning which fits perfectly into a space in the kitchen drawer where the flatware is stored.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This is a black-eared seedeater was awaiting her turn at the bird feeder.  This morning I used the bird book Louise dropped off to identify this bird.

Today’s late start was as a direct result of many distractions this morning.  I was anxious to use my new knives, a gift from Louise and Danie as shown in the above main photo, along with beautiful Africa shaped hand-carved cutting board, South Africa bird book, and delicious little dark chocolate coffee bean nibs.

How did we get so lucky to become friends with our kind and generous property managers, a friendship that started four and a half years ago?  Over the years, we stayed in touch and there was no doubt in our minds that we’d rent one of their properties when we arrived in February.

This beautiful hand-carved cutting board is made into the shape of Africa indicating
“my heart belongs to Africa.”  So true.

We’ll certainly rent from them again when we return to Marloth Park in 2020 for a 90-day visit, knowing we’ll never get these fine people and this extraordinary experience out of our minds.

But, it’s not about “gifts” for us since these items and others, we’ll have no choice but to leave behind when we leave in February 2019, a mere seven months from now.  We’ll be delighted to return them all to Louise and Danie along with numerous other items they’ve provided for us since we arrived.

This bird book from Louise and Danie will help so much when trying to identify birds for our posts.  This way we won’t have to pester our birding friends quite so often.

When it comes to these two fine people, they have an uncanny way of getting cues from conversations that often result in a gift.  Going forward I must be careful to avoid mentioning anything we may need or want since these two dear attentive people never miss a beat. 

Last night I asked where we could buy some knives or a sharpener since the knives here in the property have become dull with all the cutting I do as shown in the photo below. 

This stainless steel bowl is larger in diameter than the average dinner plate and quite deep.  Each day I cut up no less than two of these bowls with apples and carrots.  Having sharp knives really speeds up the process.

Each day I cut up no less than two, sometimes three of these big bowls of carrots and apples.  Also, with our low carb home-cooked meals often requiring lots of fresh vegetables, side dishes and salads, I spend a lot of time each day chopping and dicing.

In our old lives, I had a variety of kitchen gadgets that aided in the cutting process including a food processor and various “As Seen on TV” handy choppers and dicer all of which I used regularly.  Over the past few months, I struggled to cut up the carrots, apples and other vegetables for meals using the dull knives.

Danie made these little coffee bean treats made with 90% chocolate and brought me a package last night. Now, I am totally hooked on these tasty little morsels for a special sweet morsel.  Check out the pretty packaging.

In this life, there’s no space in our luggage for knives (not good to pack anyway) or any other items of any weight but having these special items to use over these next months means the world to us. 

We were particularly interested in this young male kudu who’s horns have begun to sprout.  See photo below for detail.

Once we leave here in February and then Kenya in March, we won’t be cooking again until we arrive in Ireland in May 2019 where we’ll stay for 90 days where we’ll see what’s available in that holiday home.  

We usually make-do with what’s on hand at holiday rentals but Louise and Danie have made this stay extra special for us with their thoughtfulness and consideration of our needs.
Male kudus have horns, females do not.  At about 15 months the horns begin to take on the shape of the first spiral.  See adult male below.

As for last night’s evening, the weather was so warm we didn’t need to bundle up or turn on the outdoor gas heater (another item they presented to us for our comfort).  The food was good, the ambiance perfect, the conversation lively and animated…along with a handful of visitors that stopped by from time to time.

All of our wonderful friends in Marloth Park are considerate, thoughtful and generous, as were all of our friends back in the US.  We feel so blessed to have been able to experience such kindness from all of our friends over the years.

Big Daddy, one of many adult male kudus in Marloth Park.

But, we must admit these two special people go over-the-top in ensuring we have an exceptional experience each and every day in this property and in sharing this exceptional friendship.

Thank you, Louise and Danie.  Wherever we may be, you’ll always be in our hearts and minds for being the special people that you are.  If any of our readers ever decide to come to Marloth Park for a holiday rental or to build your dream home in the bush, these are the people to contact.  Their kindness, creativity, and thoughtfulness carry over into everything they do.

Yesterday morning Mom and Five Babies stopped by for the first time in a few months.  My, how they’ve grown!

Quote from this site:
“The strong bond of friendship is not always a balanced equation; friendship is not always about giving and taking in equal shares. Instead, friendship is grounded in a feeling that you know exactly who will be there for you when you need something, no matter what or when. Simon Sinek”

May you life be rich with friendship!


Photo from one year ago today, July 29, 2017:

Opuntia pinkavae, common name Bulrush Canyon Prickly-pear is a species of cactus which originated in northern Arizona and southern Utah which we found in Nevada for this photo.  For more, please click here.

Blood moon..Full view of total eclipse of the moon…We had a full moon party!…

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Even the bushbabies were curious as to what was transpiring last night.

Most of today’s blood moon photos don’t include any captions.  The moon speaks for itself. 

From this site:

“JOHANNESBURG – South Africans are in for a treat on Friday with the longest total lunar eclipse of the century taking place. According to the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa, at around 19h13 pm, the moon will start moving into the penumbral (partial) shadow of the Earth. Less direct sunlight will reach the eastern (lower) side of Moon, and you may notice the Moon dimming slightly from that side.”

We knew we’d be in for quite a treat with the announcement over the past month regarding the rare appearance of the ‘blood moon” and a total eclipse of the moon clearly (weather providing) visible in South Africa.

With the weather forecast predicting a cloudy night, we were thrilled when the sky was apparent by nightfall. We set up our usual routine, including the light to see the wildlife arriving for a visit, the burning repellent candle on the big wood table, the coil repellent at our feet.

The vegetable container for the animals was freshly chopped with carrots and apples. The container for pellets was ready to go, and the birdseed bin was ready for Frank and the Mrs., who never disappoint. The cup of yogurt for the bushbabies was filled to the brim with the fruity treat and placed on their little stand.

At 1730  hours (5:30 pm), Frank and the Mrs. sounded their nightly alarm as they headed into the bush to make their usual announcement that darkness is imminent. They never fail to sound the alarm at night and again as the sun rises in the morning.

Within minutes, the bushbabies appeared on the little stand, ready to share the tasty yogurt, flying through the trees for taste after taste. It’s a stunning ritual to observe night after night.

Our dinner was ready to go into the oven. The salad was made and tossed. Tom made a brandy and Sprite Zero cocktail, and I poured myself a glass of my new favorite low-alcohol red wine. The table was set with flatware, plates, and napkins. The two-person full-moon-blood moon-total-eclipse party was ready to begin.

Both cameras had fresh batteries and were set identically for nighttime photos. Of course, our lack of expertise didn’t necessarily result in the most professional-looking photos. Still, in our laid-back manner, we did our best and decided against editing the photos. We share them here as they were taken, except for cropping as mentioned above.

The evening was so whole and busy we were on our feet most of the time. We started at 1700 hours (5:00 pm) as we always do and never went inside for the night until 2230 hours (10:30 pm) when the moon had done most of its magic.

It couldn’t have been a perfect evening. We sat down to dinner, but we jumped up time and again to toss pellets and veggies when visitors came. There was no way we’d ignore our usual visitors when they have faithfully provided us with so much entertainment night after night.

Between taking photos of the ever-changing views of the moon, trying to finish dinner, and feeding our friends, it was quite an active event. By the time we headed indoors, we were ready to call it a night. Tom did the dishes while I cleaned the kitchen; neither of us could wipe the smiles off of our faces.

Speaking of “feeding our friends,” this time humankind, Louise, and Danie are coming for dinner tonight. I did most of the prep yesterday, so today will be easy with only a few side dishes left to prepare. We love spending time with this beautiful couple.

Ah, it’s a good life. We don’t have a complaint in the world, other than the pesky monkeys who won’t leave us or our birdfeeder alone. Several times a day, Tom has to chase them away. Monkeys generally don’t respond to women doing the chasing as if to mock us. Go figure.

Have a great day! 

Photo from one year ago today, July 28, 2017:

These two birds were too busy preening to look up as we passed their habitat at the wildlife center in Henderson. For more details as we wound down the time in Nevada, please click here.

My 70th birthday present, unwrapped and before my eyes…Nothing compares…

We’ve fallen in love with the female bushbuck who stops by for a visit almost every day. She doesn’t hesitate to eat from my hand and responds to my voice.
“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”
This purple crested turaco or purple crested lourie stopped by for a visit yesterday. After waiting a while, we spotted a mate.

While swimming in the pool in Bali in October 2016, Tom presented me with an exciting gift for my 70th birthday, which was 16 months away. Here’s the post from that date.  

I had been longing to return to Africa one day but never expected it to be so soon. Tom felt this milestone birthday deserved something special, and besides, what can a guy buy his girl when her one clothing suitcase is filled to the brim with its allowable 23 kg (50 pounds)?

Forget jewelry; not safe to wear in some locations.  Forget a box of chocolates; she doesn’t consume sugar. Forget any clothing items; as mentioned above, there’s no room. Forget digital equipment; she already has everything she needs or wants. Forget a trip to a tropical climate; she already lives life on holiday, mostly in tropical climates. And, the list went on and on. 
“The purple-crested turaco (Tauraco porphyreolophus) is a species of bird in the Musophagidae family. It is the National Bird of the Kingdom of Swaziland. The crimson flight feathers of this and related turaco species are important in the ceremonial regalia of the Swazi royal family.”

Otherwise, he couldn’t think of a thing. If he’d asked me for suggestions, I’d have been at a loss. I have everything I could ever want. I never walk into a shop or store and wish I could make a purchase, not for a personal item nor a household item. 

I‘ve learned to “make do” with what I have. I am perfectly content as long as I can replenish my few cosmetic items that fit in a few ziplock bags and clothing and shoes as they wear out.

In our old lives, I had every kitchen gadget imaginable. Now, as long as I have two good knives, a paring knife, a large chopping knife, a few large bowls, and if possible, a mixer, a blender, or a coffee grinder, I can prepare any of our favorite meals.

So, when Tom told me we were returning to Africa after the Antarctica cruise we’d booked eight months earlier, I nearly wept with joy.  We’d never returned to any location we’d previously visited, except Bali for a second two-month stay when we took a two-month hiatus to head to Southeast Asia, visiting Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia with a cruise on the Mekong River.

“This bird has a purple-colored crest above a green head, a red ring around their eyes, and a black bill. The neck and chest are green and brown. The rest of the body is purple, with red flight feathers.”

We loved the second two-month stay in Bali and the first in the same exquisite holiday home in Sumbersari, a five-hour harrowing drive from the airport in Denpasar.

And now, back in Marloth Park with a plan to stay in Africa for 14 months, traveling in and out of South Africa with Marloth Park as somewhat of a base, we’ll visit many more exciting countries on the continent, which we’ll share in months to come.

The four years since we were last here went quickly, yet our memories of being here are so fresh in our minds. We recall every little nuance and almost every post we uploaded during those three short months. 

As we lounge on the veranda all day long, rain or shine, awaiting our next visitors, knowing full-well they will come as they have over these past nine days since our arrival, we’re at peace. For me, I feel like I am “home.” 

They live in moist woodland and evergreen forests. They eat mainly fruit.

This life here, albeit interlaced with certain challenges and discomforts, is truly where I belong. As a little girl, I dreamed of Africa, and to realize it took me 66 years to get here the first time and 70 years the second time, I am fulfilled.

And…when it’s time to go, I will accept it, hopefully with grace and ease, knowing a lifelong dream has been fulfilled, and it’s time to move on. Will we ever return? Who knows? Perhaps another four or more years will pass, and we’ll know we want to and are physically able to return. We’re good at planning two years out, but not much more than that.

Today will be a good day. This morning, I lay down the pellets on the soft dirt of the driveway after last night’s soaking rain, and within minutes, we had a female kudu, a male bushbuck, and a flock of helmeted guinea fowl. That was quite a treat! Before noon, friends Kathy and Linda unexpectedly stopped by to wish me a happy birthday.

This morning the bird, as shown here today, a purple crested turaco or purple crested lourie, stopped by the tree directly in front of us, displaying its beautiful plumage much too quickly for another photo. We’re grateful for the photos we captured yesterday afternoon.

Speaking of gratefulness, I must express my gratitude to my dear husband Tom. Without him and his never-ending desire to provide me with indescribable joy and fulfillment, life couldn’t possibly reach these heights. I never dreamed 70 years of age would be like this.

To all of our readers/friends/family…we thank you for traveling along with us.  We never imagined we’d have some many readers from all over the world. All of you mean the world to us, and your readership is a huge inspiration in every aspect of our travels. 

Photo from one year ago today, February 20, 2017:

While at the pharmacy in Geeveston, we noticed this antique wagon atop the bakery/restaurant. For more photos, please click here.

Settling in…Settling down…Adapting to the heat and other little challenges…Biltong…

This is a typical street scene, with lots of trucks parked on the side of the road while the locals people stop in the various shops along the route.

Gosh, we’re happy here. The house is exceptional, perfect for us, with a plunge pool, a pool table, a comfortable bed and bedding, and the living room where we’ll spend most of our evenings nestled in the comfortable furnishings with the availability of a flat-screen TV (to which we can plug in our HDMI cord) to watch our favorite shows.

We couldn’t wait to buy “biltong” (jerky) in Komatipoort. It’s by far the best jerky we’ve ever had.  We purchased a bag of pork on the far left and a large bag of the traditional biltong, as shown in the center, for a total cost of US $17.29 (ZAR 206.23).  We don’t care for the greasy sausage sticks on the far right. There’s a shop owned by the Butchery, right here in Marloth Park, if we run out before heading back to Komatipoort.

There’s no dining room or dining table (space is taken up by the pool table), but we moved around a few side tables to make an ideal dining spot in the living room. This way, we can watch episodes of Shark Tank during dinner, if we’d like.

After selecting the type of biltong, we’d like the store clerk to grind it into bite-sized pieces making it easy to eat. Otherwise, the enormous amounts are too large to chew.

Louise and Danie, our friends and property managers, oversee the operations of many properties in the Conservancy and are on the ball for anything we may need. This morning we mentioned we needed an extension cord to be outside all day with our laptops. 

Within 20 minutes, they drove up to the house with a new, never-used outdoor reel extension cord. We couldn’t appreciate their thoughtfulness more, a scenario all of their holiday renters have enjoyed with the utmost in service and attention to detail.

Biltong hanging from a rack in the shop.

Now, as we sit at the long handmade wooden table on the veranda in the most comfortable padded chairs, we can relax, work on posts, future travel plans, and stay in touch with family and friends as we wait for Mother Nature’s African treasures to arrive.

If none come by today, before dinner tonight, we’ll take a drive around the park to see what we can find, a relatively easy task in the early evening, when wildlife come out from the shelter during the heat of the midday sun.

This batch is venison biltong which we don’t care for.

And hot it is…Today’s temperature is expected to be around 90F, 32C, and in the upcoming days, we could be looking at much higher temps. With air con units in the living room and bedrooms, we still prefer to be outdoors all day. So what if we’re hot and dripping sweat? 

It seems as if we’re already used to the heat, which we thought would be much harder to do after coming out of Antarctica.  Ah, Antarctica…we’re still reeling from experience and will for a very long time.

Next door to the biltong shop is the Butchery, where the finest cuts of meat are available at fabulous prices. We purchased six considerable pork chops, five large lamb chops, 4.4 pounds (2 kg) mince (grass-fed ground beef), and 6.6 pounds (3 kg) cheese sausages for a total of only US $55.30 (ZAR 660.14). In the future, we’ll purchase all our meat, pork, and chicken at the Butchery.

Sure, living in the bush in Africa has its challenges. Last night, we spent an hour dealing with ants in the kitchen after we’d prepared a simple meal of pre-cooked roasted chicken, green beans, and salad which we’ll repeat for one more night. 

Our way to shop in Komatipooert was reminiscent of seeing banana trees with blue plastic bags covering the growing bunches to keep the bugs and birds away.

Someone, perhaps a previous renter, had left a sugar bowl filled with sugar in the cabinet where dishes are kept. After dinner, I cringed when I saw zillions of ants scurrying about,  on all the dishes and all over the granite countertops.  

A small market where many of the local people shop.

We sprayed everything, and today Martha (pronounced Marta) washed all the dishes and the inside of the cabinet. Last night, I cleaned the countertops, sprayed the counters, and then rewashed the counters with water we boiled and soap to remove the residue from the insect spray. 

We are confident the ants will return, dealing with them as it occurs. Louise suggested we leave our dinner dishes for Martha to wash, but that’s not possible with the ants. Tom will continue to do the dishes while I do the cooking.

Tom, like me, was exhausted on the day we arrived, but we managed to unpack and go out to dinner.

And yes, we’ve found things that need to be repaired in the house; no hot water since we arrived; microwave not working; ice dispenser on freezer door not working, and items we regularly used not available in the kitchen cupboards. This is Africa, after all, not Scottsdale, Arizona. 

Phumula, the bush restaurant where we dined on Sunday evening.

Louise and Danie are so “on the ball” we have no doubt everything will be in working order within 24 hours. Danie came early this morning, after I was up and dressed, while Tom slept in and got the hot water working. Not that we minded taking cold showers these past two days as we adjust to the temperature differences.

My dinner of steak and prawns.  Grass-fed steak is often challenging. The price one pays for choosing this option. There were three prawns on my plate with heads still on. I had chilled white wine with my meal.

The water here comes from the Crocodile River, which is purified at a processing plant.  The locals are used to drinking it, but we won’t take a chance. Thus, the water dispenser in the fridge makes purified water, and we were provided with a large water dispenser. As soon as we run out of water, we’ll take the empties to the “water store” in Marloth Park to have them refilled for a nominal cost.

Tom had a side of mashed potatoes and gravy with this chicken schnitzel and for two beers. Our total bill was US $38.98 (ZAR 465), which we felt was reasonable.

As always, we’ll be back with more on life, living in the bush in South Africa, sharing the costs and details of grocery shopping, which presents particular challenges for my way of eating.

Have a glorious day! We plan on it.

P.S. As we’re about to upload this post, we have our first visitor. Photos were coming!

                Photo from one year ago today, February 13, 2017:

In Geeveston, Tasmania, We took this photo through the water-stained window to find this Black Faced Cormorant at the end of the dock. They stayed for a few hours in the rain. In Antarctica, we also saw these penguin-like birds. For more photos, please click here.

An interesting frequent visitor..Too hot to handle…Kevin came to call…

Fairly frequent visitors, the Helmeted Guinea-fowl family stopped by yesterday afternoon. Check out the “fluff” around the neck. What a gorgeous shade of blue, not often seen in nature.

Perhaps, it’s the heat of summer. This is comparable to July above the equator. The heat and humidity are unbearable, especially in the afternoon. The flies are equally annoying. Our visitor population is down considerably in the heat when wildlife tends to stay undercover during the day hiding in the bush to stay cool.

On either side of the face are two hanging red-tipped hanging pieces of skin. When the Helmeted Guinea-fowl moves about, these swing around as would a pair of dangling earrings.

It’s early morning now. Our hot cup of coffee adds to the sweating, causing our skin to glisten with perspiration.  Having lathered myself with repellent each morning after a shower, I notice the accumulation of the white lotion and sweat in the crook of my arms no more than 10 minutes after getting situated on the veranda.

The adorable chicks are growing fast, but won’t exhibit signs of the blue skin on the heads for many more months to come. They run very fast, following the parents when they leave, who mate for life, unlike many of the animals.

This morning there will be no long walk down our driveway to the road, leaving a trail of pellets. The heat of the sun is more than I can handle this morning, especially when the flies swarm me as I walk down the path. I don’t think we’ll last long outside today. 

Yesterday morning we left out shrimp skin and tails for the carnivorous monitor lizard along with a raw egg.  This Helmeted Guinea-fowl checked them out but had no interest. Later in the day, I peeked out the door to find the monitor lizard eating the last of our offerings. But, she rapidly slithered away before I could get the camera. We’d seen her digging in the dirt by the braai as we were leaving for our road trip. Most likely, she was making a hole for her eggs, which won’t hatch for up to 300 days after fertilization.

As for inside, there is only one room, beside the two-bedroom that has AC where we can cool off, the upstairs loft. With the high vaulted thatched ceiling, it never cools down much.  But, it does cool down enough to make it bearable.

We counted eight adults and three babies Helmeted Guinea-fowl, two of which weren’t visible in this photo. We can’t freely move around when they visit since they will run off, and I mean RUN! They are fast on their feet! 

On days such as these, I remind myself of Kenya with no AC in the bedrooms, no living room to escape to, in order to cool off. I clamp my mouth shut and as always, we don’t complain. What’s the point?

This morning, I looked up to see Kevin, the largest kudu in Marloth Park, named by its residents, staring at us while standing by the braai. We couldn’t have been more thrilled. Not easily intimidated, we were able to freely move around the veranda to watch him and take photos. 

We still love it here. But, if we come back someday, it will be in their winter when it’s cool, almost every day. In the winter with no leaves on the trees, it’s easier to see the wildlife through the now dense bush. During that period the animals live off of the roots, digging into the hard soil for morsels of vegetation. I’m sure that the pellets are more appreciated during that time, than now, when their natural habitat is lush with food.

Kevin showed no interest in the mineral lick after a warthog rubbed himself all over it, as shown in the video we posted yesterday.

As we sit outside writing here, a welcome breeze wafts our way from time to time, sometimes hot, others cool.  But the stillness predominates. And, we sweat.

Kevin moved so close, to the railing on the veranda we had to back up to avoid being hit with his massive antlers.

On days such as today, we usually last outdoors until noon or later, packing up our laptops, power cords, pellet containers, repellent, mugs, phone  and camera. We can’t leave anything outdoors due to the monkeys. 

Kudus seem to seek out good photo opportunities.

In our old lives, we never sat outdoors on a 100F day, 38 C. Life is different now. We’re more tolerant, curious, and in awe of our surroundings. How we’ve changed!

Kevin is taller than the roof of the carport which lowest point is considerably taller than Tom’s reach.

So, of all things, just now, Kevin, the largest of the Kudus in Marloth Park, whom we’ve longed to visit us, has appeared in our garden. Lumbering his long legs through the braai (barbecue) area, stepping on the hose Tom has filling the pool, and cutting off the water supply momentarily, he makes his way toward us, totally fearless of our presence. Wow! Kevin!  

He stayed around us for 20 minutes or so and then wandered off.  A moment later a shy duiker appeared, one then two, now three.

One last pose before heading on his way.

Taking photos, enjoying their presence, makes our hearts sing. So what if we’re sweating. It’s all worth it!

Although we had three duikers in the garden, we were unable to get a shot of them together. They’re extremely shy requiring us to stay seated on the veranda.

Oh, oh. One of our regular warthog families of four has arrived. I’d better go say “hi” and get some pellets.