As usual, an exquisite morning in the bush…

He ate pellets, left, walked around the house and returned to the garden, thinking we might assume he’s someone new and offer more pellets. The warthogs and bushbucks are good at this maneuver.

Note: Due to the number of tourists in Marloth Park over the weekend, the WiFi is slow and we’re unable to load many photos.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 2 wildebeest
  • 2 warthogs
  • 38 helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 4 bushbuck
  • 9 kudus
  • 2 duiker
  • 4 hornbills
  • 1 impala

Finally, after many nights of long visits from two wildebeest, we selected names for this persistent pair, William and Willard. On Friday, they spent most of the night sleeping in our garden, resulting in 1073 photos taken by our trail cam. Tom spent some time going through them.

Big Daddy comes to call, checking out the females in the garden.

The camera takes three pictures as it is triggered by the movement. If we were to only display one photo per activity, we would miss too much. But each time William and Willard moved an ear or adjusted their position, the camera took three pictures. Although we enjoyed their presence, the eight batteries in the camera, only a week old, drained that evening. Fortunately, we had more batteries left in the package we’d purchased last week.

From now on, we will have to buy batteries whenever we go shopping. Thank goodness, they are relatively inexpensive here, as opposed to the high cost in the US and other countries. We looked at rechargeable batteries, but the cost of rechargeable batteries and recharging was very expensive. In addition, we could never carry it with us with the South African plug that might not work with our adapter and/or in other countries.

Last night was another great night at the Jabula Lodge and Restaurant. It was fun to see Dawn and Leon again after our previous fun night at our place for dinner on Thursday night. We also sat next to Patty Pan and her husband Sydney and loved their company. It was great to see the restaurant filled after so many of them were absent due to COVID-19.

It’s a long way down to pick up pellets, but he easily makes the effort.

Dawn made something special for me last night, a roasted lamb shank. It was divine. I have one more thing to order from Jabula every week. I could not believe how moist and tender it was in a red wine, with juice, as opposed to a sauce filled with flour which is usually served. Thanks, Dawn!

While in Jabula, a man sitting next to us described a local man who died of COVID-19 a few days ago. This is of concern to all of us and we must remain vigilant. Apparently, according to media reports, the rollout of the vaccine for people aged 60 and over will begin in the coming weeks. Given the lack of funds and organizational acuity, this may not happen soon. We just need to wait and see.

Right now, our dear friends Rita and Gerhard are in the midst of their 40 hour travel day to arrive here in Marloth Park tomorrow afternoon. We made a reservation for dinner at Jabula for the four of us, for Sunday evening, hoping they will arrive on time. If not, Tom and I will go on our own since we won’t have anything planned for dinner.

What a handsome profile.

They both were vaccinated several weeks ago and will have had Covid PCR tests in order to fly.  As a result, we aren’t worried about them being around us when they arrive without a quarantine period which is not required in South Africa at this point. When we arrived here in January, we chose a self imposed quarantine for two weeks before we started seeing our friends.

Apparently, that won’t be necessary for those who’ve completed the vaccine at least two weeks ago. I can’t wait until we can get our jabs and put our minds at ease.

As for today, we’ll continue to sit outdoors on the veranda, watching nature at its finest. Tonight, we’ll cook bacon wrapped pork tenderloin on the braai and Tom will finish up the potatoes and corn on the cob from Thursday night. The weather is lovely, warmish, but not hot, sunny with a slight breeze. Perfect.

Have a fantastic weekend!

Photo from one year ago today, May 15, 2020:

Finally, after waiting patiently we got a good shot of this pair of cows in Ireland, most likely a mom and baby. For more photos, please click here.

A fine evening in the bush with friends..Fun new video!…Check it out!…

Take a look at the new video we filmed yesterday morning.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 2 wildebeest
  • 6 warthogs
  • 11 helmeted guinea fowl
  • 5 bushbuck
  • 22 mongoose
  • 2 kudus
  • 1 duiker

It’s a glorious morning. The sun is shining. The temperature and humidity are mild with a slight breeze. The animals have come and gone over the past few hours and we couldn’t be more content. Right now they’re all gone, but that’s going to change in a couple of minutes.

Two Go-Away birds drinking from the birdbath. Unlike many of the brighter forest dwelling turacos these are birds of an African open country and have drab gray and white plumage. In southern Africa, these birds are known as kwêvoëls, but they are also referred to as loeries with other turacos. The go-away-birds are named for their raucous “go away” call.

Last night’s dinner with Dawn and Leon was a great time. The food was good, the company superb and the three wildebeest in the garden all evening just added to the entertainment. I’d made an easy steak dinner with sides and spent little time in the kitchen while our guests were here, having prepared everything earlier in the day.

It’s a busy weekend in the bush with many holiday homes booked with guests from other parts of South Africa, few from overseas, due to pandemic travel restrictions in many countries. A band of 22 mongoose just stopped by and we offered them some leftover meat which they devoured.

Three wildebeest lying in the driveway, shortly before Dawn and Leon arrived.

We noticed that three of the mongoose had full pieces of white bread in their mouths which they weren’t eating, but carrying around in somewhat of a frenzy, wondering what to do with it. Apparently, some novice holiday renters have fed mongoose bread, which is not appropriate for their diet. In one instance, I watched a guinea fowl steal the mongoose’s bread and escape.

Sure, animals love “human food”, but in most cases, it’s not safe for them to eat. It’s always disheartening to watch that. Feeding wildlife, especially now that vegetation is diminishing by the hour, is good if it is appropriate for their way of eating. The best feed to supply the animals is game pellets. Fruits and vegetables humans eat may contain pesticides and other chemicals that are dangerous to animals (and humans too).

Wildebeest Willie is drooling over the veranda table begging for pellets.

On occasion, we offer them carrots and apples, which we wash first and cut into bite-size pieces. Imagine a bushbuck or a tiny duiker choking on a big piece of a carrot or apple. It would be horrifying to witness it, but it could easily happen.

Many don’t believe in feeding wildlife. Based on the fact that they are fenced in, living in this conservation without being able to wander towards greener pastures, we feel compelled to feed them. This is a hot issue here in Marloth Park with many different opinions and perspectives.

A hornbill eating out of Frank and The Misses container of seeds.

To cull or not to cull is also a frequent point of contention. We avoid controversy and do what our conscience dictates, which is to feed wildlife, food appropriate to their species. We don’t hand feed nor do we use troughs which are breeding grounds for TB and other wildlife diseases and illnesses which are always prevalent in the bush.

Last night we had good news that Rita and Gerhard will be arriving at Marloth Park on Sunday afternoon and we will all be heading to Jabula Lodge and Restaurant for dinner. Gerhard has been chomping at the bit over the prospect of ordering their spare ribs, which Tom eats each time we go for dinner. As usual, we always go to Jabula on Friday nights, which we’ll be doing again tonight and then again, on Sunday night.

A wildebeest resting in the garden, a common phenomenon of late.

We’re so thrilled to see Rita and Gerhard. We hope they will stay for a few months and of course we hope to be able to stay or return after June 30th when our current visas expire. Only time will tell.

A Go-Away bird sitting at the edge of the pool.

That’s it for the day, dear readers. Be safe. Be happy. Cherish every day of life!

Photo from one year ago today, May 14, 2020:

A small lagoon between Anini Beach and Ke’e Beach while we were in Kauai, Hawaii on this date in 2015. Please see that link here. For the year-ago post, please click here.

Part 3…Kruger National Park…It never disappoints…Adding a new feature for Africa…Tom’s trip is over…Dinner guests tonight…

On the way back from Kruger, we encountered this  intentional fire in the sugar cane fields.

Effective this morning, we are adding a new feature to our posts while we are in Marloth Park. The feature will be entitled: “Who is in the garden this morning?” which will consist of all wildlife visitors to our garden during the time we are preparing the day’s post. Here it comes!

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 9 warthogs
  • 13 kudus
  • 3 bushbucks
  • 1 duiker
  • 7 helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 39 mongoose
  • Frank & The Misses (francolins)

Thus, while we continue to prepare the post we will add to the list, keeping in mind that typically it takes about five hours from start to finish, considering managing photos, writing the text, editing the text with occasional short breaks to do a household task, prep for a meal or other breaks necessary during this period.

We will not count regular visitors if we are in a position to recognize who is here, which we can do in most cases. For instance, just now, warthogs, Mom & Babies (2) appeared, but they weren’t counted earlier. We hope that our readers will find these figures amusing. Otherwise, it’s fun for us, at any rate!

We had to make it through the thick smoke of the fires.

This afternoon at 4:00 pm, 1600 hours, we’re having guests for sundowners and dinner, Dawn and Leon, owners of Jabula Lodge and Restaurant. We always have such a good time with them at the restaurant, but it will be nice to have time with the two of them without all the distractions in the restaurant.

A wildebeest (gnu) on the side of the road near Vurhami Dam in Kruger.

This morning we prepped some of the items on the menu which when done here, I will wrap up the balance. Zef is here cleaning the house which makes entertaining, so much easier when we don’t have to clean in preparation for company.

Rapids under the bridge at the Sabie River.

All we have to do is prepare the food and clean up after ourselves. In our old lives, when we entertained more frequently, it’s easy to recall how much time was spent cleaning before the guests arrived and later when they left. It’s a lot easier now. Plus, I am not as picky about preparing fancy foods for our guests.

Giraffe walking down the middle of the paved road.

Louise always suggests that we leave our evening dishes for Vusi and Zef to wash the next morning as they are accustomed to doing for the guests at other houses. But, we don’t feel right leaving a sink full of dirty dishes when we can easily put them into the dishwasher. In addition, leaving dirty dishes can draw ants and other creeping crawlers overnight, which we do not want to do.

The giraffe walked toward us, as we waited patiently.

Simple appetizers (referred to as starters here) and simple meals are typical in South Africa, usually consisting of meats cooked on the braai with a few starchy sides, which I am making tonight for our guests. I will limit myself to biltong (delicious South African beef jerky), cheese and steaks, and will not be tempted by starchy items.

Another giraffe we spotted in the park.

I am easily maintaining my now medication-free former hypertension and high blood sugar, all of which are normal, day after day. That’s a small sacrifice from my perspective. I’m not missing any of it. Well, maybe a few things, but I never indulge myself in those items which could result in a “slippery slope.”

It’s funny, but I crave “low carb” items, not sweets and starches from my old life before 2011 when I went low carb. Now, I’ve also been zero carb since last October while in lockdown in the hotel in Mumbai, India when I conducted hundreds of hours of research on this more strict version of low carb, never looking back.

More rapids on the Sabie River.

That’s it for today, dear readers. I have to get back to work on tonight’s food prep and when done, work on the post corrections. My goal is to never miss a day making the corrections, unless it’s a travel day. So far, so good.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 13, 2020:

Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas.Will we ever be able to cruise again. For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…Kruger National Park…It never disappoints…Odd day for us today…

We spotted this Leopard Tortoise crossing the road in Kruger National Park. The leopard tortoise is a member of the “Small 5” (along with the rhino beetle, the red-billed buffalo weaver, elephant shrew and the ant lion).

Soon, Tom will be heading to the airport in Nelspruit to return the rental car for a required monthly inspection. With prices so high for rental cars lately, we went with Thrifty which uses cars with higher mileage and may be a few years old. By no means, are they “beaters,”  However, we have been disappointed with the car we have now. It doesn’t do well on the rough, dirt and gravel roads.

It was fun to see a Spoon-billed Stork on the shore of Sunset Dam in Lower Sabie. See the more detailed photo below.

Thrifty’s contract requires that we return the car every 30 days for an inspection, which is a huge inconvenience when it’s a four hour turnaround to make the trip. It’s a route I don’t like, due to single lane roads and lots of weaving in and out of traffic. It’s somewhat of a “nail biter” for me as a passenger.

Today, Tom has decided there is no reason for me to ride with him. He’s leaving soon to make the trip on his own. I suppose in the realm of things, it’s no big deal and I should go with him. He insists he’ll be fine driving on his own and thus I am staying behind.

What an interesting bird!

The four hours will be the longest we’ve been apart since we were in the US at the end of 2019 before leaving in January, 2020 for India. Gosh, that seems so long ago.

The common starling.

We continue to research online daily attempting to find reasonable prices on rental cars after June 30th, providing we’ll be able to return to South Africa. Right now, the cost of rental cars is more than our rent for a 30-day period. That makes no sense whatsoever. With travel at a minimum due to Covid, you’d think travel services such as rental cars would be reasonable to encourage travel after this long stretch.

Raising prices to compensate for losses only discourages travelers embarking on holidays/vacations when most prospective travelers have suffered financially during the pandemic. But, we’ve seen happening with airlines, hotels, cruises and auto rentals throughout the world. It makes no sense whatsoever.

A small crocodile skimming the surface in the Sunset Dam..

Of course, I will be on pins and needles until Tom returns safely. While in the house alone, I’ll finish today’s post and get back to work on corrections on old posts which I have been diligent about doing each day since I mentioned it here weeks ago. I am a week away from being 50% done with all of the over 3100 posts. It’s a slow and painstaking process which I am determined to complete, one way or another.

Once I reach the 50% mark it will still be almost six months until I’m done, at the rate I am going so far, 10 posts a day. Originally, I’d planned to do 20 posts a day, but that took several hours, more than I could do to stay motivated. As it is, I still spend two hours a day on the 10 posts.

Two hippos napping in the tall grass on the shore of the Sabie River.

As also mentioned earlier, I’ve found I can make the corrections while watching a series on the opposite side of the screen, using a split screen. This helps the time go more quickly. Right now, I am into a few science fiction shows which Tom doesn’t care to watch. It’s not that I’m wishing time to pass quickly, although some unpleasant tasks are best accomplished by some form of distraction for those of us who like to multi-task.

Hopefully, Tom will return by 2:30 (1430 hours) or 3:00 pm (1500 hours) and we can go about our day together as usual. Tonight is his final night of homemade low carb pizza, which I’ll put together while he’s gone. I had chopped all the toppings and also made the low-carb crusts in advance, making the balance easy to do.

This happened too quickly for a good photo. It was a crocodile spinning in the river with its prey in its mouth.

Today’s photos, although not necessarily the most exciting photos we’ve ever taken in Kruger National Park, are those scenes of wildlife we found to be worth sharing. Some of you may not agree. Each time we enter the park, we do our best to come away with sufficient photos for a few days, as we’ve done here.

We hope you have a pleasant day and we’ll be back tomorrow with more. We’ve taken many more fun photos in the garden in the past few days and look forward to sharing those next.

Photo from one year ago today, May 12, 2020:

This is a Blue Kingfisher we spotted on this date in 2016 in Sumbersari, Bali. Click here for that post. For more photos from the year-ago post, please click here.

A fantastic Mother’s Day…A special treat on the trail cam!!!…

It gives us a strong incentive to continue to check at night.

Yesterday morning I rushed through the post preparation and in no time, we were outside the door, on our way to Kruger National Park. Thirty minutes later, we crossed the Crocodile Bridge in search of all possible sightings in the river. We spotted a few crocodiles on each side, but with cars behind us on the single-lane bridge there was no way we could stop for pictures. We were prepared, as usual, not to see anything.

However, the theory is that getting there right after sunrise was the best time to see wildlife.

We hadn’t noticed this as critical when we frequently entered the park after downloading a post, when it can be as late as 10:00 or 11:00 am. But we often see so much. Even at times, as we enter the early afternoon, we still see a lot of wildlife.

At first, we noticed two pairs of eyes on the trail cam photo.

Here in Marloth Park, after watching the trail cam photos each day, the only difference we’ve noticed from what we’ve seen day and night, is what we’re sharing today, our exciting photos of a pair of porcupines that the camera picked up at 9:00 pm, 2100 hours, not necessarily a time most visitors would be on a game drive in Kruger. The exception to this would be during the hottest times of the year when wildlife hunkers down in the bush undercover on hot days.

Thus, today, we’re sharing the trail cam photos and tomorrow, we’ll be back sharing the beginning of a series of wildlife photos from yesterday’s visit to Kruger. No, we didn’t see big cats, which most visitors make a priority, but for us, we’re happy to see whatever nature bestows upon us.

As for Mother’s Day, Tom made it very special for me. Generally, we don’t buy gifts for one another when space in our luggage is limited. While at Lower Sabie in the park, Tom bought me a beautiful bag I can carry when we go out to dinner or visiting instead of the huge oversized heavy black bag I use on travel days.

With caution, the porcupine pair moved into the open area of the garden.

On another note… Over the years, I’ve been carrying the Africa printed fabric grocery bag we purchased in Kenya for US $2.00, ZAR 28, in 2013. It shows no sign of wear and tear whatsoever. I was tired of carrying a grocery bag for a handbag. Yesterday, Tom purchased a new bag for me, at the shop near the Mugg & Bean which is a black and white printed South Africa shoulder bag, ideal for going out to dinner or visiting friends.

It had been so long since I had something new like this, I felt like a “kid in a candy store.” Oh, how the little things in life mean so much. In my old life, if I purchased such a bag, I wouldn’t have given it another thought once I brought it home. Now, the simplest things are appreciated and handled with care, hoping they will last a long time.

By coincidence while we were at Lower Sabie, we ran into Linda and Ken. We knew they were also going to Kruger yesterday, but the odds of running into them were remote. We giggled about seeing them outside the shop and once again, hugged goodbye, not certain when we’ll see them again.

Finally, they wandered back into the bush.

Once back home, we made a nice dinner and enjoyed a quiet evening in the bush, with many animal friends stopping by to round out the special day.

Today, our dear friend Alan is coming for sundowners and dinner. Tom had been chomping at the bit for our homemade low-carb pizza for some time and today I’m making it for both of them. Alan also eats a low-carb diet. Since I don’t eat vegetables I will have my leftover beef liver and chicken breast for dinner. It doesn’t sound very appetizing, but actually it is quite good.

I’d better pick up the pace here and finish this post. Once Zef and Vusi arrive to clean the house, we’d like to head out the door to Komatipoort. I’ve already cooked the cheesy sausages and made the cheese based pizza crusts. When we return and put everything away, I’ll top the pizzas with sauce, mushrooms, onions, cooked sausage, and hand-grated mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and place them in the fridge to be cooked for dinner. Tom loves leftover pizza so I’m making enough for three nights. I’ll figure out something for me for the remaining nights.

That’s it for today, dear readers. We hope you have a pleasant Monday.

Photo from one year ago today, May 10, 2020:

Closeup of our toad peeking out from a hole in a decorative mask when we were in Marloth Park in 2018. For more photos, please click here.

Happy Mother’s Day to moms throughout the world…Nine zebras came by this morning as a Mother’s Day surprise!…

This morning, Tom had two surprises for me, one consisting of nine zebras in the garden that he kept feeding as I showered and dressed. I rushed as fast as I could in order to watch the friendly visit of our striped friends. Fortunately, I made it in time before they left and was able to take some photos and a video which we’ve posted above. I did this in time before their departure and I was able to take some pictures and a video we posted above.

Sorry, but the second surprise is a tease. We’ll post it tomorrow with photos we’re excited to share. There’s a bit of editing necessary to present this second surprise and this morning, I’m rushing since we plan to go to Kruger National Park as soon as I get the zebra video uploaded, edited and posted in today’s story. It’s uploaded at this time on YouTube and is expected to be ready soon.

Zebras on the side of the veranda, begging for pellets.

I stopped typing to check and found the video was done, allowing me to continue on with this post which I will be rushing a bit in order for us to get on the road to Kruger National Park and see what treasures we’ll be able to behold while there. Sometimes, it’s a total bust and we don’t see much. Sometimes we are amazed at what is happening before our eyes.

We no longer worry about whether it’s a sunny or cloudy day to visit Kruger when in both cases we can take some decent pictures. Today is partially cloudy and it will be fine for us. It’s been very busy in Kruger the past few weeks, which prevented us from taking a chance and going.

This male must have been the dominant male. He came right up to the table to ask for more pellets.

Nothing is more disappointing than cars backed up, bumper-to-bumper when a sighting is being observed, which often times is wildlife we’ve seen regularly in our garden. For us, after all these years, as a rule, we do not stop at the impalas, warthogs, kudus and wildebeest that we frequently see in our garden.

Most often, we’re on a mission to see cats, elephants, Cape buffalo, rhinos, crocodiles, interesting birds and whatever other treasures and/or surprises the park may have to offer on any given day. As I mentioned a few days ago, it’s somewhat like fishing when patience and perseverance are necessary in order to “catch” anything, in this case, taking photos of some of our favorites.

The others watched him to see if he was successful, but we’d already given them so much, we had to stop.

We often stop at Lower Sabie on the Sabie River for a bathroom break and to take a few photos from the veranda at the Mugg & Bean Restaurant.

Speaking of dinner… Last night, we met Linda and Ken in a new restaurant that we hadn’t tried since our arrival nearly four months ago. The restaurant, Bos, is now in the space formerly occupied by Watergat, in the Bush Centre, just down the road. We’d dined  at Watergat  a few times in year’s past, but we were always disappointed.

Bos was a significant improvement. The service was fine and the food was decent. There were only a few items on the menu I could eat so I opted for roasted chicken and fried eggs. Tom had the ribs and the fries, but he said they’re not comparable to Jabula’s. For us, Jabula will always remain our favorite, but occasionally we can try other options. Our Friday night reservation at Jabula is always in place and always will be.

Then he made eye contact and I melted.

Tom just completed the forms/papers for us to enter Kruger, necessary for anyone, including those like us with an annual Wild Card. We always have to bring the forms and our passports with us in order to gain access.

I will conclude now since we are anxious to get on the road. It takes less than 30 minutes to get to the entrance of the Crocodile Bridge, then the fun begins.

To all the Mothers out there, may your day be filled with wonderful surprises. Happy day to all.

Photo from one year ago today, May 9, 2020:

The sights and sounds of Victoria Falls from both the Zambia and Zimbabwe sides were unlike anything we’ve seen in the past. For more year-ago photos, (which were “repeats” while in lockdown in Mumbai), please click here.

Fantastic night in the bush…A human and animal kind of night…

Big Daddy lurking in the bush staring at the females.

Last evening when friends Alan and Fiona stopped by for sundowners, we all experienced a night we’ll always remember. Not only was the conversation, wine, cocktails, and food freely flowing, but we were all “gifted” with visits by dozens of wildlife. They came, not only before sunset, but once it was dark, when we turned on the garden light, one species after another graced us with their presence.

Lots of zebra butts facing us this morning as they clamored over the pellets Tom tossed into the garden.

It was as if we’d arranged this menagerie for our guests and none of us could take our eyes off the garden. Amid all the enjoyment of seeing so many wild animals, the conversation flowed with ease and good humor. Tom and I joked that the word got out that we currently have five remaining 40 kg, 88 pounds, bags of pellets in a corner in the second bedroom.

It’s not natural for kudus to bend over to eat when they’re used to eating vegetation on trees. But, they do bend for the pellets.

Then, again this morning, even more, came to call including wildebeests (gnus), zebras, bushbucks, warthogs, kudus, including one Big Daddy (the first we’ve had visit) who’d somehow managed to maneuver his way through the dense bush to make his way to our garden.

As I write this now, the Big Daddy stands tall in his majestic wonder as shown in today’s photos. To us, there’s no animal living in Marloth Park that commands more reverence and respect than these special massive males. Sadly, on occasion, a foolhardy tourist will not respect their strength and girth and may become injured when getting too close.

One of the two wildebeest hung around with us all evening, well after dark.

Recently, we posted a video we’d seen on Facebook where a man actually touched the head of a Big Daddy, which resulted in an injury to the man’s face. We were appalled by how idiotic the man was to actually think he could “pet” the massive animal. We never touch any of the wildlife nor do we hand-feed any of them.

See the Facebook link here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/377035355798904/permalink/1901623916673366/

The second wildebeest that hung around last night and returned again this morning.

As it turned out, Alan and Fiona stayed until 11:00 pm, 2300 hours, when suddenly we all realized how late it was. A highlight of the evening we all especially savored was when on four occasions, we heard Dezi and Fluffy roaring in Lionspruit. What a fantastic sound!

The evening flew by. Shortly after they left and we were situated in bed with our laptops, I got to work to complete the day’s corrections I’d never finished during the day.  It wasn’t until after midnight that I finally gave up and decided to finish the task this morning.

It was almost dark when we took this photo.

Well, this morning with six zebras, four warthogs, two bushbucks, and the returning two wildebeest from last night, it took me a while to finally get to the remaining corrections from yesterday. Now I am caught up and can get to work on today’s 10 posts before the day’s end.

Today will be an easy day. I’ve already done two loads of laundry and prepared a few items for tonight’s dinner, a well-seasoned chicken flattie to be cooked on the braai. Most flatties are already seasoned with some spices we don’t use in our way of eating. Soon, I’ll soak the chicken in purified water in the big metal bowl to remove all those spices off and then re-season it to our liking.

Such a handsome male kudu.

Tomorrow, we’ll make the second flattie implementing the same process, when we didn’t have room in the small freezer for either of the flatties. Today is yet another gorgeous day, cool and slightly overcast. We are loving every moment of this cool weather.

Enjoy today’s photos along with us. Happy day to all.

Photo from one year ago today, April 21, 2020:

Taking photos through the fence in Marloth Park was tricky, so we got what shots we could.  At times, we were pleasantly surprised at the finished product. For more photos, reposted, one year ago, please click here.

Wonderful evening with friends…More socializing ramping up soon…

Tom opened the side burner lid of the braai to find this frog residing in there. He moved her to a safer location before using the burner to heat water for coffee when the power was out.

With friends, Rita and Gerhard arriving in Marloth Park in less than a month and friends Don and Kathy arriving respectively in June and July, our social life will certainly be ramping up over the next several months. Covid-19 certainly has taken its toll on social activities since we arrived almost three months ago and we’re looking forward to the change.

As always, we’ve had loads of good times with Louise and Danie and last night was no exception. We so much love spending time with them and never miss an opportunity to do so. Last night was no exception. We all sat outside on the veranda until 10:00 pm entrenched in lively conversation with many stories to share, making it difficult to end the night.

A few hours later we spotted her sitting atop the edge of the extra tank of gas for the braai.

As it turned out we didn’t get to sleep until after midnight and as I often do, I awoke in the middle of the night, wide awake and unable to return to sleep. Finally, after a few hours, I drifted off and slept until 10:15 am, something I never do. By the time I showered and dressed, and tidied up a bit, it felt as if half the day had passed. It was 11:00 am by the time I finally made my coffee.

Now, with two male bushbucks in the garden, while Frank dines on his seeds on the veranda, it’s fairly hot with the sun shining and high humidity. Tom did all the dishes last night and put everything away this morning. I’ve washed and hung two loads of laundry on the indoor clothes rack. With plenty of leftovers, today will be an easy day.

Ms. Bushbuck was wondering if pellets were coming her way. She wasn’t disappointed.

My only task is getting today’s post uploaded. While in India, I spent the better part of each day going through old posts and making much-needed corrections, I haven’t done any more of these since we arrived in South Africa. I must admit that I’m having a hard time getting back to this daunting task when doing so reminds me of sitting in that hotel room for 10 months in India.

At some point, I will get back to it. At this point, I don’t feel like putting any pressure on myself to get back to this. It’s an amazing feeling to feel unencumbered and free until we have to decide again by June 30th, where we’ll go if President Ramaphosa doesn’t extend visas again for another 90 days, which we’re hoping. It all depends on the scope of Covid-19 at that time. During this pandemic, everything can change on a dime.

We were happy to see bushbuck Torn Ear return to the garden.

We’ve decided to wait until the last minute to make a decision. So far, vaccine distribution is extremely poor in South Africa as cases continue to rise. At some point, if we ever want to cruise again, we will have to return to the US for the vaccine since the likelihood of getting it here is remote.

After careful consideration, most likely we’ll return to our state of residency, Nevada first, get the vaccine, and then head to Minnesota to visit family. But, right now, after checking the availability of the vaccine in Nevada, appointments also appear to be impossible to book. We simply have to wait it out.

Two adorable females. The lower jaw of a buckbuck gyrates in a circular motion when chewing pellets.

Today will be a quiet day, which is always easy to enjoy in the bush. The sights and sounds of nature continue to provide us with considerable entertainment and curiosity. Several times each day, we investigate the facts surrounding some type of sighting or another that happens to appear before us. Each day, in its own way, is a new day rich in experience, full of wonder.

Tomorrow morning, after Tom has the rental car washed, we’ll head to Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport to return the car we currently have and pick up the next one. It will be about a four-hour turnaround plus any additional time we may spend stopping to shop in Malelane. We’ll certainly make the most out of the outing, later returning to Marloth Park, happy to be back in our favorite place.

Have a fantastic day filled with wonders.

Photo from one year ago today, April 11, 2020:

Six years ago today, the drive on the way to the Princeville Botanical Gardens is in itself a breathtaking experience. For more year-ago photos, please click here.

A lovely evening with friends in the bush…Technology issues…

Tom’s photo! Mr. Bushbuck sitting in the bush waiting for the warthogs to leave so he can have a few pellets.

We had such a great evening last night with Linda and Ken at our home for dinner. With no time constraints, a meal I’d mostly prepared ahead of time, the four of us sat out on the veranda, well into the evening, The bugs seemed to be repelled by the repellent candles and coils Tom placed in key spots on the veranda before they arrived. The weather was pleasant, warm and not at all uncomfortable.

We didn’t see a lot of wildlife, while they were here, but enough to entertain us when peering out into the garden. A tiny frog, noisy as could be, made us laugh as she/he enjoyed the new birdbath, now filled with water from the rain. Since it’s close to the house for our easy viewing, few, if any birds will stop by. But, we’re certainly enjoying the wildlife, stopping for a drink of the freshwater.

A male bushbuck with a plant growing from his muddy hoof after a big storm. This makes us laugh.

At the moment as I write, Bennie, Hennie, and Lennie are resting in the garden within three meters of us. Periodically, one will groom another, a common practice among warthog family/friend groups. We’re assuming they’re related based on their similar characteristics, with tiny tusks and good-sized warts.

A female they seemed to know stopped by to join them in the past few days. Actually, she could also be a family member. Warthogs generally give birth to four or fewer piglets based on the fact they have four teats. It’s amazing how nature takes care of itself.

Last night, I didn’t get much sleep. In the past several days, I have been bitten by something that left me itching all over again, all night long. My arms and legs are covered in red, swollen, itchy bites that were itching more and more throughout the night. I’d taken an antihistamine which provided no relief and used every anti-itch cream I had on hand, trying to get some relief.

Although she looks small in this photo she is a good-sized kudu. Known as the Greater Kudu, females can weigh up to 400 pounds, 181 kg, while males may weigh up to 620 pounds 181 kg.

As a result, I didn’t sleep more than four hours, according to my Fitbit. I managed to use Crazy Glue to glue the parts to my Fitbit together to keep the band together, until my new one arrives sometime in the future in the package we’re ordering from the US in the next few days, once the night trail cam arrives at our mailing service in the next few days.

I am definitely not my spunky self today. Hopefully, this afternoon a short nap will revive me a little. Last night, I only drank two small glasses of my low-alcohol wine and by 6:00 pm, (1800 hours), I switched over to iced tea for the remainder of the evening, so that didn’t keep me awake.

For red wine enthusiasts, you know how easily one glass too many at a social function can impede a good night’s sleep. I’m always very mindful of this for that very reason and with consideration of long-term health. A good night’s sleep is vital to the quality of how one feels the following day and also the overall well-being into the future.

A young male kudu, with Bossy in the background. He could easily be her son from several seasons ago. She stood still for almost an hour watching him out of the corner of her eye while he ate pellets.

The past few days I noticed my phone was acting up. We purchased two pricey Google Pixel 4XL phones in December 2019 before we left the US for India the following month. So far we’ve been thrilled with the performance of our phones until about three days ago I began having trouble opening some of my apps, but not all of them. This was frustrating.

This morning, after the fitful night’s sleep, during which I wasn’t able to play one of my favorite games to lull me back to sleep, I knew I had to do something. I had no choice after trying many options but to do an entire factory reset. Since I didn’t have an old phone from which to copy all the files, I am now, as I write here, stopping every few minutes to download yet another app to restore my phone to its original apps and settings.

I took a photo of all of my apps to refer to when downloading many of my favorites, knowing I could have taken screenshots. But, as cumbersome as Chromebook is, I preferred to take the photos as opposed to downloading screenshots to my drive. I still miss the convenience and ease of Windows 8 with easy access to folders on the desktop.

Check out the length of the horns on this male bushbuck. These seeming sweet animals could inflict serious harm or a fatality if frightened into protecting themselves. Otherwise, they appear very gentle.

Those days are long gone based on new operating systems available in the marketplace today. More and more systems will go to the use of a drive/cloud for storage as opposed to locally stored files on our own system, which I always preferred, being responsible for saving my data as I preferred. Oh well.

By the end of today, tired as I am, I’ll have everything set up on my phone as I prefer and can put this small inconvenience behind me. For the remainder of today, a nap, and maybe watch another episode of “Fear of the Walking Dead” which I’m streaming during the day when Tom is busy with Ancestry.com and Facebook, his two favorite pastimes. Of course, at night, when we’re done sitting on the veranda and well after dinner, we always watch an episode or two of a streamed show together, of a favorite show we’re binge-watching.  For today, that’s all the energy I have.

Have a fantastic day, dear readers!

Photo from one year ago today, March 23, 2020:

The two dining cars on the train, The Maharajas Express, were tastefully appointed with the finest dinnerware and table settings. For more photos, please click here.

A storm unlike any other…Power stayed on!…Yeah!..Wet, humid and muddy terrain…

Wildebeest Willie, also known as a gnu, gave us quite a thrill when he arrived. In no time at all, two more Willies stopped by. It’s nice to see the animals drinking from the bird bath.

Last night, our dinner reservation at Jabula was canceled via text, due to the outrageous storm that started around 4:00 pm (1600 hours). We hadn’t taken anything out of the freezer for dinner, not anticipating we’d be dining at home. With the prospect and the likelihood of the power going out due to the thunder, lightning, winds, and rain, we were at a loss as to what to eat for dinner.

It’s not as if we have a freezer filled with prepared store-bought frozen foods. We only consume fresh, non-processed meals with the exception of a few canned fish, zero-carb condiments such as mustard, and a few spices. We were at a loss as to what we’d prepare. With all the meat frozen it would have taken hours for anything to defrost.

But, they say, “A drink from the pool is quite acceptable.”

The stovetop and oven are electric and with the lights blinking off and on during the storm, Tom suggested we have tuna salad with hard-boiled eggs. The trick would be to get the eggs boiled before the power went out. We hurried and placed six eggs in a saucepan of purified water and put it on high.

If we were able to get a strong boil, we could turn off the burner and let the eggs finish cooking in the pan with its lid on, the method we typically use to make hard-boiled eggs. Thirty-minutes after turning off the burner with the lid on the pan, the eggs would be cooked perfectly. We held our breath while the pan of eggs came to a boil. As soon as the strong boil started, the power went out and we immediately covered the eggs. Whew! We’d have tuna salad after all.

And then, there were three.

We made a huge batch, dividing it between two plates, and enjoyed our dinner inside the house. There was no way we could sit outdoors while the pouring rain continued. Shortly, before we ate, the power resumed and much to our surprise, we had electricity all night. We’d heard several homes in Marloth Park are still without power, yet to be restored. We dodged a bullet.

Tom just read me a message on Facebook from the Marloth Park Municipality stating there’s a water shortage. Apparently, it was a busy weekend with holidaymakers staying at many bush homes in the park, using water resources. We’ve all been asked to reduce our water consumption over the next several days.

They shared the pellets harmoniously.

The property owners and managers have struggled during the pandemic with few tourists booking any of the properties. Many bush homes have sat empty for over a year. It’s been a tough time here as well as all over the world. With Easter weekend coming up soon, there will be more activity in Marloth Park, not many foreigners, but more likely South African citizens.

Tonight, Linda and Ken are coming for dinner arriving at 4:00 pm (1600 hours) for sundowners and starters (appetizers). This morning, while it was still cool and before working on today’s post, I spent time in the kitchen prepping most of the meal. We’ll start with a wide array of starters and finish a few hours later, cooking lemon pepper seasoned flatties (flat cut whole chickens) which Tom will prepare on the braai, along with rice, roasted vegetables, and a green salad with fresh feta and grape tomatoes. We won’t be having a dessert after such a hearty meal.

Other wildlife was on the sidelines, but thought twice before entering the space of this trio.

We’ve had a number of visitors this morning, including more wildebeest which stopped by yesterday before the storm, as shown in today’s photos, Several bushbucks, kudus, and an endless stream of warthogs, commonly seen most days, made a visit. Frank and The Misses have been hanging around regularly, often right at our feet asking for seeds. We don’t waste a moment offering them a good-sized portion.

Speaking of sightings in the garden, last night for the fourth time, Tom spotted the porcupine run across the garden. I have yet to see it, although I look for it many times during the evening. They are nocturnal. We’re considering purchasing a waterproof night-vision trail cam before our shipment goes out in the next few days. Amazon will deliver it to our mailing service in 24 hours in time for the shipment to go out to us. We’ll check this out today and decide on which model to purchase.

A new female warthog we don’t recognize. If she continues to return, we’ll give her a name.

Now I need to get back to work on the treadmill which I avoided this morning while busy in the kitchen and also finish some tasks for tonight’s dinner guests.

We hope you’ll have as good a day as we expect to have. It’s cooler today after the rain, although very muddy and humid. But, that won’t keep us from having a fantastic day!

Photo from one year ago today, March 22, 2020:

What beautiful sunsets over the Arabian Sea while we sat outdoors by the pool awaiting our fate as Mumbai began to shut down. For more, please click here.