Rainy day, perfect for the vegetation in the bush…Excellent car rental news…

Check out these wonderful white markings on Noah, the young nyala.

Today, it’s raining. But, it’s a steady soaking rain which is ideal compared to heavy rains that would run off. The animals are hunkered down under the trees, waiting for it to end. Little do they know how crucial this rain is to provide them with much-needed nourishment.

We can’t possibly provide sufficient food to satisfy all their needs by offering pellets. Pellets are a treat, although healthy, made from vegetation suitable for varied species. All the wildlife eats them, except for the carnivores such as mongooses, genets, wild dogs, lions, leopards, etc., who continually search for meat in one form or another.

When I first stepped outside this morning, Lollie was sitting in her usual spot waiting for her pellet breakfast before the rain started. I didn’t hesitate for a moment to fill up the four-cup measuring cup with pellets and toss them her way. In only one or two minutes, 12 kudus joined the feast, including moms, babies, and a few Big Daddies.

Norman, the dad nyala, also has beautiful white markings across his nose.

Tom was taking a shower, and the five-gallon bucket of pellets we keep in the house was empty. The 40 kg, 88 pounds bags of pellets are located in the store room across the driveway and are too heavy for me to lift to refill the bucket. With no pellets left in the bucket to tender to the impatient kudus, I grabbed a few packages of celery, lettuce, and carrots from the fridge.

I quickly cut several carrots into bite-sized pieces and cleaned up a few heads of iceberg lettuce and two bunches of celery. They love the scraps. Within five minutes, I was back on the veranda, tossing all the goodies to them. They couldn’t have been more excited to see the vegetable scraps hit the ground.

Then, I remembered that a container of grape tomatoes had become too ripe for our liking, so I grabbed that container from the fridge and tossed the entire container. Wow! They sure loved them. Most vegetables except corn are acceptable for the animals to eat. The birds can eat corn. Nor can the animals eat bread, chips, sweets, and human snacks and treats.

The nyala family stops by once again.

Unfortunately, many tourists will feed the animals their leftovers. Sure, they like the taste of human food, but they are not healthy for them, even foods we may consider to be healthful. Most of the animals in Marloth Park are used to consuming the indigenous, naturally occurring vegetation typical in the African bush.

We’d considered going to Kruger National Park today, but with the rain and how most of the wildlife stay undercover when it’s raining, there was no point in going. Instead, we’ll stay in, working on various projects we’ve started online while enjoying this quiet day together, as we often do.

Bossy comes up to the door looking for me. She did the same at the old house.

This morning, we received an email from the car rental company we’re using in Nelspruit for the little blue car. Tomorrow, the 30-day rental expires, and it was expected that Tom would return the vehicle to sign a new contract. With all the car-jackings, spiking, and crime on the N4 Highway, we were more concerned about driving on that road than we had to. The three-hour turnaround to return the car is worrisome.

Thus, today, we could extend the contract until July 23 over the phone, avoiding the necessity of the long drive. The price was a little less than we’d paid for the first month so that we couldn’t be more thrilled. They sent us a contract extension document with the adjusted lower price, and we’re good for now. Hopefully, in July, they will extend it until August 20 when we fly to Zambia.

Handsome Big Daddy.

Currently, we are without power. We have no way of knowing if it’s due to load shedding or a result of the rain. We had no WiFi for about an hour, but now that has resumed. We’re in good shape if the power doesn’t continue for a while since the inverter is running to keep our laptops and phones charged.

Since I have two laptops, both charged, and Tom has one, if the inverter runs out, we can use one of our laptops to watch movies on the external hard drive that Rita and Gerhard gave me for my birthday last February. Gerhard had installed over 1000 movies on the hard drive, so we’ll have plenty to keep us busy when and if we’re in the dark tonight.

Have a great day!

Photo from one year ago today, June 22, 2022:

Poor little male bushbuck got caught up in some roots he was digging up. Too cute for words. We later named him Stringy, and he’s found us here at this new house. For more photos, please click here.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads and grandpas!!!What did you do on your special day?….

Is this the Crooked Face we knew from the old house? We looked up a past post and found that this is him! If he’s found his way here, surely Little can do the same. 

It’s a perfect day. The sun is shining. The temperature is currently at 73F, 23C. There’s a slight breeze, and the air quality is “excellent,” per the AccuWeather app on my phone. With many tourists in the park this weekend, we will stay put and enjoy the day and evening on the veranda watching nature at its finest.

There aren’t as many animals visiting with all the attention and food they’re getting from the tourists, but our loyal visitors waste no time stopping by to see us. So far, this morning, we’ve had the shy duiker couple, warthogs Mom and Babies, Lollie (a permanent fixture), and a few bushbucks. Kudus love to show off for the tourists, so I doubt we’ll see any today.

We’ve yet to come up with a name for this bushbuck.

This morning I baked a new batch of low-carb blueberry scones, which are cooling now, and I’ll place in twos in re-used Ziplock bags to keep in the freezer, taking out two each day to have with my coffee, topped with a bit of butter. We individually wrap portion sizes of my scones and Tom’s blueberry muffin.

We save the sandwich-size Ziplock bags by storing them on a shelf on the refrigerator door to prevent any remaining crumbs from getting moldy. Then, we re-use them for the next baked batch, saving on plastic waste. We may reuse them three or four times. We keep Tom’s muffins on one shelf in the freezer and mine on another, making it easy to find to take out for the next day.

Kudus with their heads down eating pellets, except one youngster.

Earlier in the week, I made Tom a coconut banana bread for those times after dinner when he’s craving something sweet. Here again, we store individual portions in the freezer. If I don’t bake something for him, he’ll often buy whatever they have at the market, which is made with chemicals and preservatives. If he’s going to eat sweet treats, at least homemade with fresh ingredients is ultimately better for him.

Of course, my little blueberry scones are made to be very low carb, and I only allow myself two per day since they are calorie-dense and made with almond flour. When Spar Market was out of almond flour, I purchased macadamia nut flour which is even lower carb than almond flour.

This is Rueben. He is in love with Lollie.

Today, I made low-carb scones using a half-and-half mixture of almond and macadamia nut flours. I am confident the taste will be just as good, if not better. Since I’ve received several requests for the recipe, here it is for our low-carb/keto readers.

Mom and Baby bushbucks were eating the grass inside the fenced area. We couldn’t believe how gracefully the baby jumped over the fence.

Raspberry/Blueberry Drop Scones
Makes 24 cookies/scones 

8 large eggs, beaten until frothy
4 cups almond flour
46 drops liquid sucralose or 1 1/3 cup sugar substitute or other equivalent sugar
2 T aluminum-free baking powder
2 T vanilla extract
2 cups fresh raspberries, blueberries (unsweetened), or any berry and nuts

 Directions
Preheat the oven to 375°F and line a sheet pan with parchment (a must) paper. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients, except for the raspberries or blueberries (or both), and mix well to create a batter that will be lumpy. Gently fold the raspberries/blueberries into the batter and use a tablespoon to drop evenly spaced scones on the lined pan (about 2 heaping tablespoons for each scone). 

Bake for about 18 minutes until scones begin to brown lightly.  Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from the parchment paper, or they will fall apart and serve warm or room temp.  These freeze very well and defrost in about 10 minutes or use the microwave for 30 seconds to defrost 2 or 3.

Nutrition Facts
125 calories
9.5 g fat
5.5 g protein
2.5 g fiber 
1 g net carbs

This is Bossy, from the old house. She was looking inside the house for me while Tom took the photo.

 This recipe takes very little time to prepare. I had them made and in the oven within about 15 minutes. Those who don’t eat low-carb will also enjoy these delicious treats. They aren’t hard like a typical scone but soft like an oatmeal cookie.

After making the above, I’ve kept at my usual walking pace to ensure I am fast approaching my daily goal of 8,000 to 10,000 steps. It’s much easier to accomplish while living in this property as opposed to the last, which was much smaller. We’re undoubtedly enjoying the extra space, especially outdoors.

The zebras returned yesterday for another visit.

We’re missing the animals today, but I feel confident they’ll be back in the next few days. Even the birds aren’t as active in the garden today as they were a few days ago. But, we’re content nonetheless.

For all the dads, grandpas, step-dads and step-grandpas out there in the world, we wish you the very best on this special day. We hope your loved ones will make this day all about YOU!

Photo from one year ago today, June 19, 2021:

Lots of pigs!!! We aren’t getting as many warthogs at the new house, but soon they will come. For more photos, please click here.

Power outages all day today and tomorrow….Eskom repairs…No-see-ums solutions!…

This handsome Big Daddy is missing a huge section of his left horn, most likely due to a hostile encounter.

We changed our minds about going to Kruger National Park. Last night, I was awake for several hours, itching from sand fleas (midges, no-see-ums) bites, and I was up several times using various creams and lotions, including Calamine, some of which may work for a few hours. I’m a little too tired to ride in the park for hours.

Invariably, I fall back to sleep, waking up a few hours later with the itching worse than the last time. Last night, a bite on the bottom of my foot was the worst culprit, along with the nagging dozens of bites around my neck. However, with our ramped-up preventive measures, I am only getting one or two new bites each day, far less than a few weeks ago.

This was a first for us. We’d never seen a Big Daddy missing part of his massive horn. That must have been one aggressive encounter!

The itching lasts from one to three weeks, which can be just as awful the second or third week as when the bites were new. At night, warming up under the covers in the cold weather exacerbates the itching, particularly on my feet. I have implemented the following measures to reduce the likelihood of being bit and the itching:

  1. Wear repellent with DEET, not only on all exposed skin but under my clothes, reapplying every six hours
  2. Wear thick socks, leaving no gap between the sock and the bottom of my long pants
  3. Wear a “bugs-away” long sleeve shirt over a long-sleeve tee-shirt
  4. Spray the area where we’re sitting outdoors, day and night
  5. Spray the bedroom with Doom in the late afternoon
  6. Keep the bedroom door shut at all times.
  7. At bedtime, reapply repellent, wear long leggings and a long-sleeved hooded shirt to bed, pulling up the hoodie when going to sleep to keep my neck and part of my face covered
  8. Use anti-itch creams as needed, including cortisone, antihistamine, and calamine lotion
  9. Shower using exfoliant cream and sponge to remove any remaining insect larvae on my skin.

    This is our boy, Dot, who has a few polka dots on his back and above his left leg, as shown in this photo.

I can’t think of anything else I can do. Please let me know if you’ve had experience with these types of insects and their terrible bites. Tom hasn’t had a single bite. Go figure!

The power just went out a few minutes ago. It is supposed to return by 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs. Yesterday, Danie came over and re-did the inverter system in the house. There were two inverters, one upstairs on the second level and the other on the main floor. The unit on the main floor died, so he had to hook up the upstairs unit via a long power cord hanging along the wall by the stairway. He is so on-the-ball about getting things to work well for us, just like his lovely wife, Louise.

Seeing the zebras return so soon after their first visit was excellent.

Also, yesterday Danie added a handrail leading to the second level. We were so grateful he did this, making it easier for us to go up the stairs. There’s another living room/lounge up there, as well as another huge veranda. It will be fun to entertain up there if it’s raining. Now, with the handrail in place, we’ve added another floor of usability to this house.

Tom tossed quite a few pellets at the pool’s edge. Afterward, they all took a drink.

Plus, there’s an air-con unit in the lounge upstairs, and on sweltering days and nights in the summer months, we can always go up there to hide away for a few hours. Also, there’s a big TV monitor up there with Netflix; if we’d like, we can watch a movie up there.

The power will supposedly be back up by 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs. Today, with more of the same tomorrow. Tom placed the large metal bowl filled with ice in the refrigerator. Everything in the freezer will be fine for this short period.

Have a great day!

Photo from one year ago today, June 14, 2021:

We haven’t seen Thick Neck at the new house since we arrived three weeks ago. Hopefully, someday soon. For more photos, please click here.

Contrary to popular belief, there still are snakes slithering about in cold weather…Last few night’s trailcam treasures!!!…

There are no captions on today’s photos. They speak for themselves!

Many locals and visitors to Marloth Park perceive that they won’t encounter snakes in cold weather. But, this is not the case, as illustrated below from local Juan de Beer’s Facebook entry, which he posted yesterday. Juan is a young, highly skilled rescuer of reptiles and other animals found in the bush and nearby outlying areas.

It astounds us how successful and experienced he has been. We knew him when he was a teenager, and many of us here in Marloth Park feel safer knowing he is at our beck and call if we encounter a snake in the house or on the veranda.; Of course, if a snake is spotted in the garden and wandering off, there’s no need to call Juan.

Snakes and other reptiles are a part of Marloth Park and have as much a right to be here as we do, if not more. They were here long before humans inhabited this area. It is sad to see snakes driven over by vehicles on the roads and the countless wildlife killed on the roads here. More on that tomorrow. We were horrified to read the latest update on how many animals have been killed on Olifant Road, the main paved road in the park, in the past week.

So, here is Juan’s update on how many reptiles were captured and transferred to parkland and wildlife areas in the past two months, and June isn’t even over yet.

Juan’s Reptile Rescue

April and May 2022🐍🦎 🦂🐊

Rescue’s for this month from the Unit⚠️☠⚠️
1.Black mamba= 25
2.Puff Adder= 24
3.Mozambique Spitting cobra= 25
4.Rock Monitor= 17
5.Spotted bush snake= 14
6.Eastern Tiger snake= 1
7.Common wolf snake= 1
8.Olive grass snake= 2
9.Boomslang= 7
10.Southern Twig snake= 2
11.Southern African python= 1
12.common file snake= 1
13.Brown house snake= 4
14.Crocodile= 1
15.Chameleon= 1
16.Marbled tree snake= 1
17.Eastern bark snake= 1
18.Tree agama= 1
19.Short snouted grass snake= 1
Rescue’s in total ~ 130
Juan’s Reptile Rescue Unit 🐍🐊🦎🦂🕷
Safe removal and release of all Reptile’s❗❗
(Marloth Park, Kruger National Park, Komatipoort, Hectorspruit and surrounding area’s)
Juan’s Reptile Rescue Unit:
060 665 5000📲
Available 24/7
No charge for a call out❗❗
To know that he rescued 25 black mambas, one of the most dangerous snakes in the world, leaves one a little more cautious when walking in the garden, on the dirt, in the bush, and even in the house. When snakes seek warmth, they may enter the house. We’ve heard stories of highly venomous snakes being rescued from homes on many occasions.
Of course, we must remain vigilant every day and evening, keeping doors closed, especially since the veranda is on ground level. We keep our bedroom door closed, day and night, mainly to keep mosquitoes and other insects from entering. But, this measure is also vital to keep snakes from entering a bedroom that may have snuck into the house when occupants weren’t watching.
We shout out to Juan and the other reptile rescuers residing in Marloth Park and surrounding areas, who also provide superior support and handling in this area.
Here’s some good advice for anyone who encounters a snake such as a black mamba or many others:
“Black mambas are territorial, so don’t go looking for a fight. If you see or hear one, leave it alone. Do not go near the snake; if it tries to escape, let it. If it feels cornered, you’ll face its wrath.”

There are countless reliable sites online that can be useful regarding safety when encountering snakes or other dangerous reptiles. For example, this site from Kruger National Park is a good source of information, as many others. For those living or staying in Marloth Park and other conservancies and camps in Africa, it’s imperative to conduct research and become educated on safety around all forms of wildlife, even those who appear to be gentle and non-combative.
Enjoy today’s photos from our trail cam taken over the last few days. We were thrilled to see the visitors that arrived when we were either inside making dinner or later in the evening, during the night or in the early morning.
Be safe. Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, June 11, 2021:

Tom stayed busy for quite a while tossing pellets to these five wildebeests. For more photos, please click here.

Getting into the groove…It’s heavenly…Plans for our August visa run revealed!!!…

This female kudu jumped over the fence to see if the “grass was greener.” We don’t feed them when they jump the fence so they’ll avoid eating the grass and vegetation which is newly seeded and planted.

Wow! It’s Thursday morning on a perfect weather day. It’s cool, the sun is shining, and we’re comfortably ensconced at the table on the fantastic veranda. We’re feeling so much better today. The gastro issues are gone. The awful feeling of exhaustion from Covid-19/Omicron continues to improve daily, and we’re almost back to our old selves.

The sights and sounds in the bush are making us both smile. Birds are singing, screeching, and flying overhead. As I write this, the same five kudus, including a baby, have been hanging around for the past few hours. We named Pushy a very bossy warthog since he growls when we don’t give him pellets fast enough. He makes us laugh. We can’t help but respond to his goofy personality.

Bushbucks are sharing pellets with a warthog.

There are a few “Spikey’s” hanging out, young bushbucks with tiny horns, and one of our old favorites, Stingy, from our old house, 2 kilometers, 1.2 miles away. He responded to his name, and we recognized him for the markings and size of his horns, which are always muddy from digging up roots. Indeed, we’ll see some of our old animal friends in time, but it’s easy to welcome new friends when they are so adorable.

Gosh, this feels good. Tom is streaming Garage Logic on his laptop. we’re sipping on ice tea in the big mugs Louise gave us a few days ago, and we’re snacking on chunks of delicious aged cheddar cheese and a fine quality ham. Dinner is made for tonight’s meal, and I’ve already done two loads of laundry.

A Mom and Baby bushbuck partaking in some pellets.

Danie arranged for a plumber to come today since the water at the kitchen sink wasn’t hot enough for washing dishes. There’s no dishwasher here. Tom did all the dishes but quickly became frustrated when the water wasn’t satisfactory for sanitizing the dishes. As soon as we mentioned this issue to Louise, she and Danie were all over it and the plumber arrived this morning to make the necessary repairs. By tonight’s dinner Tom should be able to do the dishes in hot water. The remaining faucets in the house are fine.

With our plans set for the necessary visa run on August 20, as of two days ago, we have peace of mind and can relax until then. We definitely decided that neither of us feel up to any long flights and layovers to go far away. We’ve decided to head back to Zambia.

An adorable baby bushbuck.

Once we arrive at the small airport in Livingstone, our former tour guide Chris will pick us up at the airport and drive us to the rive where four countries intersect, the only such place in the world. We’ll take a little boat across the river to the other side to Botswana where a guide will meet and take us through immigration, and then to Chobe Safari Lodge, where we stayed a few times in 2018.

Each time we were at the resort and went on safari, we longed to spend more time there. This time, we’ve booked five nights at the lodge and two nights at the Protea Hotel to round out an entire week we’ll have been away, hopefully long enough to satisfy South African immigration to give us a new 90-day visa stamp.

Three bushbucks are sharing pellets. Now that we’re back to using the camera, we’ll zoom in more for better shots.

Fortunately, the flight to Zambia is non-stop on Airlink in Nelspruit and is less than a two-hour flight, making the trip easy for us. We’ll pick up a new rental car when we return to Nelspruit, and the 90-day clock will begin once again. But, 70+ days later, we’re heading to Athens. At the end of the cruise from Athens, we’ll return to Cape Town South Africa, about 45 days later.

We are thrilled with this plan. It’s easy, affordable, and less work than applying for another visa extension which we may have to do again sometime down the line. But, this one trip and the cruise take us to March 2023, when again, we’ll leave South Africa for a while to explore other options. All of this, of course, is based on travel restrictions because the pandemic is not over.

There are several Mom and Baby bushbucks. Soon, we’ll identify features and start naming them.

So, God willing, we’re back to life as we knew it, comfortable and content to be here, feeling well, enjoying our animal and human friends. Life is good, once again.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, June 2, 2021:

Little Daddy comes to call. As a youngster, he certainly knows how to give the “look,” indicating he’s up for some pellets. For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…The manatee story…Safari luck in Florida!…

This was the first shot we got of one of the manatees that appeared in the warm waters by the Tampa Electric Company.

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When Karen and Rich told us about the nearby Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach, Florida, we were interested. But, when they explained that it might be difficult to actually spot any manatees near the Tampa Electric Company, where the warm waters from the plant attract manatees, we hesitated to check it out.

When we took off for the grocery store, we decided to visit the center and see if we’d have safari luck. Since the manatees are not confined and may come and go at their leisure, we felt comfortable giving it a try. We avoid visiting caged and confined animals that should be in the wild. Although, on occasion, we visit rehabilitation centers, which is an entirely different scenario. especially when the intent is to return the wildlife to the wild, where they belong.

It would have been nice to get better photos but we were happy to see them.

Not to be negative, but we anticipated a pricey entrance fee and the possibility of never seeing a manatee. Much to our surprise, entrance into the oceanfront setting was free to the public. As shown in our photos, the tourist-like location across the bay from the Tampa Electric Company, somewhat offset the eyesore of the massive power plant (not nuclear).

Many homes in the area have extensive views of the power plant. Perhaps those homeowners feel less intruded upon by this haven for manatees that has been generated (no pun intended) by such an intrusive structural complex so close to their homes.

The entrance to the Manatee Viewing Center in Apollo Beach, Florida.

On the Manatee Viewing Center’s website, they write:

“Manatees love warm water. And by a stroke of POWERful luck, Tampa Electric can provide it to them! Our Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach circulates water from Tampa Bay for cooling, then sends the water flowing clean and warm back into the bay. The manatees leave colder waters to return to this warm and welcoming refuge in the winter months.

Because of this uniquely unusual migration, we’ve built the Manatee Viewing Center so everyone could have a chance to see manatees gather. Our discharge canal is a state and federally designated manatee sanctuary that provides critical protection from the cold for these unique, gentle animals.

Location: 6990 Dickman Rd., Apollo Beach, FL 33572
Hours: Open daily from November 1 – April 15, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Trails close at 4 p.m. We are closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and Easter. Have questions? Call us at 813-228-4289.

Tampa Electric is proud to offer free parking and admission to all who visit!”

Manatees are such unusual-looking animals.

Tom, impatient fellow that he is, seemed ready to leave when we didn’t see anything. When we arrived at the center to find the parking lot full, we persisted and found a good spot. After a short walk up a ramp, we made our way to the major viewing area, wondering if we’d get lucky.

But, knowing me, riddled with persistence and determination, I wanted to wait it out. Within five minutes, we saw manatees. I was almost squealing with delight. My high-pitched talking-to-animals-voice kicked in while my camera clicked feverishly to get a good photo.

Manatees don’t rise above the waterline. Only their noses protrude for a quick moment to collect a good dose of air every five minutes or so. As long as we could see their blubbery bodies under the water, we knew at some point they’d come up for air. And they did.

Tampa Electric Company processing plant in Apollo Beach Florida.

In reality, it would take a scuba diver or snorkeler’s underwater camera to get good shots of these peculiar massive creatures. We did the best we could under the circumstances and were thrilled to get the shots we did. Of course, I was thrilled, as always, to add yet another wonder of nature to our repertoire of online photos on our posts, and we’re delighted to share them with our readers today.

We’re sharing the photos we took between today and tomorrow’s Part 2, a continuation of this story. We decided to break this up into two stories since we have to hurry to get out the door tomorrow to meet with friends Tom and Lois for lunch in Arcadia, Florida.

Ancillary structures at the Tampa Electric Company.

Have a fantastic day!

Photo from one year ago today, April 1, 2021:

This leaf-like insect stopped by for another visit. For more photos, please click here.

Four days and counting…Busy packing the house…

Look how swollen Big Daddy’s neck signifies he’s ready to mate. Amazing!!!

The only time since we began traveling in 2012 that we stayed in one property for over a year was here in Marloth Park when I had heart surgery, and we didn’t leave for 15 months, the final three of which I spent recovering to become well enough to travel.

Now, during times of the pandemic, we will have lived here for 14 months due to many travel restrictions in force all over the world. We would have left sooner had it been a little easier to travel. In the past 14 months, we left, once to Zambia for a week and another time to the US for a  month.

On another occasion, we’d booked an exciting trip to Kenya, which was canceled due to Covid-19. Is it any wonder we were hesitant to book anything when we’d already lost so much money due to the pandemic in the past two years? In many cases, we got most of the money back, but it required hours and hours of phone calls, documentation,  and applying pressure to the providers to give us a refund.

We became weary of all of these issues. We’re facing another possible cancellation on the cruise scheduled to travel to Ukraine. We’ve decided we won’t accept the Black Sea price to swap out for the Greek Islands. We’ve done that route in the past, and we’re not willing to pay twice as much as other such cruises are charging right now.

What a handsome animal!!!

We’ve been watching opinions from other passengers on that cruise via cruisecritic.com. They feel like us. They want their money back. If we apply for the refund now, we will get 100% of what we paid, applied to a future cruise which must be used by the end of 2022 or one year from the original cruise date, whichever is later. That may not work for us. We’d be happy to have them apply the funds to the other cruises we have booked with Azamara.

However, if enough passengers cancel, the cruise line will cancel the cruise. According to Azamara’s cancellation policy, if they cancel a cruise, we’d get 125% of the cost of the cruise as a future credit since it’s only a 600 passenger cruise with most likely only 500 passengers that would account for approximately 250 cabins.

Thus, instead of canceling now, we will wait a few weeks and see if the cruise line cancels. We’ll receive a 100% credit for everything we’ve already paid in advance to Costco Travel in the worst case. Whew!

As for the packing, after living in this house for so long, the packing is more complicated than usual. Since we are returning before too long, we are leaving the non-perishable kitchen items in a big tote. Also, we’re leaving some clothing that we won’t need on the cruises or in the US to lighten the load.

I fed him an entire bag of whole large carrots. He inhaled them in seconds. He was quite thrilled with the treat.

We are allowed two 23 kg (50 pounds) bags each. We will each bring our largest bag, the yellow supply bag, one duffle bag along with two carry-on bags for me, and the computer bag for Tom. We’ll have to pay baggage fees on the US flights (one to Minneapolis and the other to Las Vegas). There’s nothing we can do about that.

After all, we’ll be sailing on two very distinct cruises in the next six weeks, and we’ll need different clothes for each, although some everyday items will work for both voyages.

That’s it for today, folks. Enjoy your weekend!

Photo from one year ago today, March 19, 2021:

This is a monitor lizard that Tom spotted while driving. It happened so quickly I had to take the photo through the windshield. For more photos, please click here.

Wild action in the garden…A fight like none other…7 days and counting…

“How do wildebeest fight?
They follow a series of ritualized actions: bucking, snorting, pawing at the ground, fighting, and grunting in a deep, croaking manner like a frog. The wildebeests will face one another on their knees, foreheads to the ground, ready for combat.”
Typically, wildebeests fight over territory and during the mating season.
Yesterday, while we were outside on the veranda, an unusual sighting occurred. Hal and Broken Horn were visiting the garden simultaneously. We’d seen them arrive at the same time, but in all of those past cases, one of them quickly wandered off. Most often, it was Hal, who is gentle and easy-going.
Broken Horn can be very aggressive with other animals when pellets are around. But, Hal is always willing to share. In this case, we certainly didn’t toss out any pellets when we were fearful they could get into a fight. We carefully avoid tossing any pellets into the garden when we see aggressive animals that may fight over them. We never want to incite hostility among the animals.
When they first arrived, it appeared that everything was going to go well. However, we held off on tossing any pellets to them.
By nature, kudus, zebras, and warthogs may enact aggressive behavior among their species, even on occasion in their own family/friend groups. Generally, this type of behavior is short-lived, resulting in a chase into the bush. Yesterday, it was not the case.
At first, Hal smelled Broken Horn’s butt, and we thought nothing of it. The snorting and pawing at the ground ensued within less than a minute, and the fight began. Dogs do this all the time, and most often, the intent is to determine “who” is in their territory. We’ve seen this behavior among warthogs, but not many other animals.
Stunned and speechless, we watched in horror, fearful one of them would be injured. We saw no evidence of injury during the 15 to 20 minutes they were at it. We quickly realized we needed to make a video, although I anticipated it would be over before I even got started as I grabbed the camera. But, that wasn’t the case. We were easily able to get this video.
Hal then proceeded to sniff Broken Horn’s butt to see if he knew him.
After a while, my arms were tired of holding up the camera, and I stopped. We had to leave the veranda a few times when they were too close to us. We moved inside and watched from the bedroom window, especially as they upset all the boulder edging around the cement pond.
Finally, they ran off to the driveway in a mad chase. We couldn’t see who was chasing who. The only differential in their appearance is Broken Horn’s one broken horn that’s been that way since we’ve known him for the past 14 months.
Later in the day, we headed to Giraffe Bar and Restaurant to meet Lynne and Mick and Janet and Steve for dinner. As always, the six of us had a fantastic time, laughing, talking, and sharing endless stories. In a few weeks, they’ll all return to their other homes in Jersey. Hopefully, we’ll see them at some point after we return in December. Tomorrow, we’ll post photos of all of us and our various dishes.
It didn’t take long for the fight to commence. We knew that something was going to happen once they were on their knees.
As mentioned in our heading, the departure countdown has begun. We leave Marloth Park one week from today. Most of my clothing is packed, Tom’s shirts are all washed, dried, and neatly folded. All I have left to do is pack the kitchen items we’ve purchased since our arrival; spices, unopened condiments, canned coconut cream, coconut oil, and a few pans such as a  non-stick skillet, a muffin tin, and a few roasting pans.
In no time at all, we’ll be good to go.
Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 16, 2021:

Four oxpeckers started working on this female kudu to remove bugs and ticks as her trance-like state began. For more photos, please click here.

Serendipity…Last night’s fun trail cam photos…

This is Little Imposter. He pretends to be Little by mimicking Little’s behavior, but the differences in their appearance make it easy for us to determine who is who.

Today, we’re sharing photos from last night’s trail cam that made us smile. These fantastic animals never cease to amaze us.

Also, on another note, this morning, I received an email from a lovely couple we met at Hotel Grums in Barcelona on May 5, 2013, where we stayed while waiting to board another cruise. See that post here.

He settles in, just like Little does.

That afternoon, we met Adele and Wally, only to discover they were sailing on the same cruise we were boarding the following day to the Middle East, from Barcelona to Dubai for 15 nights, which proved to be one of my favorite cruises.

We got together several times with Adele and Wally during the cruise, as mentioned in this post on May 7, 2013. At that point, we had already sailed on five previous cruises, and we had begun to feel a little like experienced cruisers, appreciating the opportunity to make new friends with other passengers, as we have, over the past several years.

Hal and Mom, and Piglets arrive very early in the morning, long before we are up.

This morning, I read this message from Adele and Wally, whom we’ve stayed in touch with over the years.

“Absolutely unbelievable! We are getting on the Queen Mary 2 in Brooklyn on April 17 for a two-week cruise…one week over in one week back. Will we be on the ship together? I’m a little confused with your April 24 date because that’s the sailing from Southampton to New York.
Of course, we would love to see you!”
Hal was sniffing a tree.
Promptly, I wrote back telling them we will be sailing from Southampton to New York on April 24, the same cruise they will be on, stating how thrilled we’d be to see them again after all of these years. What a delight that will be! There’s no doubt we’ll have plenty of stories to share.
On the Queen Mary 2, cruise dinner seating is different from what we’ve enjoyed about cruising in the past. When we’d sit at a shared table with other guests, we may not have already met. On Cunard’s sailing, each couple (passenger) is assigned a table for dinner, which is the same each night. If passengers don’t connect with their tablemates, it could be frustrating.
Bossy often visits during the night.
Fortunately, this particular sailing is only for seven nights but, most likely, we’ll be OK with whoever may be at our table and they with us. It’s always enjoyable to meet new people and hear about their travel adventures since most cruise passengers are frequent travelers.
Today, we are busy booking flights and hotels for our upcoming travels, including the hotel in Southampton; the flight from New York to Minneapolis, the hotel and car in Minneapolis; the hotel and car in Las Vegas. At this point, until we hear more about the Black Sea cruise itinerary change due to the war in Ukraine, where we’ll go from Las Vegas is up in the air. In any case, we will be leaving the US sometime in June.
Our porcupine often stops by.

By the way, it was two years today that everything in India started to unravel due to Covid-19. See the post here.

Have a pleasant Sunday wherever you may be!

Photo from one year ago today, March 13, 2021:

Bossy always stares at me for more pellets. She has us both well trained. This was her before her pregnancy was showing. A year later, she has an adorable little kudu calf she brings along on occasion. She still comes each day looking for pellets and attention. For more photos, please click here.

Tips for saving money on booked cruises…More Kruger National Park photos…

Two giraffes at the Vurhami Dam.

We are shocked and surprised by how many of our readers continue to read our daily posts, especially when they’ve been so mundane and often dull over the past few years. First off, thank you for staying with us, and secondly, the photos and excitement should ramp up soon.

Yesterday, it was one month until we board the transatlantic cruise, sailing out of Fort Lauderdale. Today, it is two weeks until we fly away from Nelspruit to Tampa, arriving on March 24th. It’s hard to believe we are leaving here when we enjoy it so much.

Impalas were sheltering under a bush to stay out of the hot sun.

A comfortable, easy routine can also become a vise grip preventing adventure and challenges which we both feel are vital to good health and longevity. But, we don’t want to become complacent, letting these precious remaining years of our lives fade away into a routine from which we’d have trouble extricating ourselves. I don’t want to risk becoming complacent with my dangerous cardiovascular disease. Time slips away too quickly.

Two nights ago, we were on hold with Costco Travel once again for almost an hour and then on the phone with a representative for nearly 45 minutes, many of which we spent on hold. Since we’re not using our phones for calling right now, due to the suspension Google Fi imposed on us due to excessive roaming outside the US, we had to use Skype to make the call.

Rapids near the bridge at the Sabie River.

If both parties have Skype, the call is free. But the cost for calls outside the US is under three cents a minute. (When using Skype, we must have “credit” in our Skype account since the call recipient isn’t using Skype. It was not a significant expense).

Why were we calling Costco Travel about our upcoming cruise again? Since the pandemic and cruise lines’ desire to keep passengers, they have lifted restrictions. Before the pandemic, once passengers made the final payment, no further credits or promotions would be applicable. Now everything has changed. Most, not all, new promotions offered that impact your particular cruise will benefit the passenger. But, it’s entirely up to the passenger to know about this and have their cruise representative arrange the credits.

A hippo at the Sunset Dam.

Here’s how to do this in these easy steps:

  1.  Log on to your cruise line’s website and check for promotions for your cruise, even those you’ve already paid in full, making a concise note of what is included in the promo and your cruise confirmation number. (You may have to check this daily since some promotions time out in a few days).
  2. Contact your cruise booking representative. If you call the cruise line, they will tell you to go through your booking agent. If you booked directly through the cruise line, they will assist you with crediting the promotion to your cruise(s).
A croc in search of an opportunity.

The trick is to check daily, which Tom does for our upcoming cruises.

An alternate means of becoming informed as to promotions is as follows;

  1. Sign up free to become a member of Cruise Critic here. Click on the login and select, “Not a member yet.” Following the few simple steps to create a free account.
  2. Once logged in, at the top right of the homepage, click on “Boards.”
  3. Then, click on “Find Your Roll-call.”
  4. A list of all cruise lines and ships will pop up alphabetically. Select your cruise and see what other users have commented on discounts they’ve received recently to confirm the discounts applied to your cruise. Most regular users will share their savings here.
  5. Then, proceed to contact your cruise representative as indicated to set up the discounts for you.

    A giraffe and an elephant at the Sabie River.

This works well for us. Tom handles all of these steps. So far, since February 2022, we have saved a total of US $5969, ZAR 90463, as mentioned in our post on February 1, 2022, which can be found at this link here. Sure on Monday night, we were on the phone close to midnight (due to the time difference between South Africa and Costco Travel in the US), but it was well worth it.

We saved the additional US $409, ZAR 6198. Still, this time the promo was applied to our cabin credit, giving us additional funds to use for purchases, shore excursions, WiFi, drinks, specialty restaurants, or whatever we choose to purchase while aboard the ship. We already had a US $300, ZAR 4547 cabin credit but now have a cabin credit of $709, ZAR 1074.

Elephants seeking shelter from the hot sun under a sparse tree.

If you have any questions regarding this topic, please feel free to post them in the comments section or email either of us.

We are experiencing a lot of load shedding right now, which is particularly annoying at night when it’s hot. However, we have an inverter provided by Danie and Louise, enabling us to have WiFi and use one fan and one lamp in our bedroom. Daytime is less of an issue.

Have a healthy and happy day and evening!

Photo from one year ago today, March 9, 2021:

Last night’s sunset from the deck at the Amazing Kruger View Restaurant, we dined with Linda and Ken, who left today to return to Johannesburg. For more photos, please click here.