Invitations to my 75th birthday party went out today…Done with our immigration documents…Tuesday we head to Nelspruit to deliver the docs in person, as required…

Norman and his friends stopped by today.

Gosh, we wish we could invite everyone we know and like in Marloth Park. But based on the venue, we can only manage 25 to 30 guests. This morning, Louise and I sent out all the invitations on WhatsApp. In a matter of minutes,  we had no less than 12 RSVPs and expect to see many more in days to come as our invitees check their calendars and get back to us.

It’s funny to be planning my own party, but it’s a whole lot easier for me and Louise to do it than leaving it to Tom. Yesterday, we ordered 12 bottles of Prosecco, 12 bottles each of red and white wines. All we have left to buy is dry roses, and we already have several cases of Tom’s favorite local beer, Lion, which is hard to find at local shops.

I am making two birthday cakes, one regular and one keto, on the day of the event. Louise and Danie are helping with all the food. They are experts at this, and we so appreciate the help. Their helper Martha will come and do all the dishes the next morning.

We named this male warthog, Tusker, for his giant tusks.

As stipulated on the invitations, I specified, “Please, no gifts!” which I mean sincerely. My luggage has absolutely no room for anything other than what I already have. Plus, finding gift items with limited shops with few selections here in the bush makes gift buying too challenging.

We look forward to our guests arriving in casual attire, and if they drink beer and wine, they don’t need to bring anything. If not, they can get their choice of drinks. The party starts at 5:00 pm, 1700 hrs., and can easily go long into the night. This is no sundowner party. It could well go late into the night, which is OK with us.

It wasn’t easy creating the guest list. No doubt, we had to leave some people out that we would have invited if we’d had a different venue, but it all boiled down to one aspect: connections. It’s all about those unique connections with people whose hugs and conversations warm my heart, and in this magical place, unique connections can easily be made.

Tusker and a little bushbuck sharing pellets.

Sure, I’ll be missing many of the close friendships we’ve made here in Marloth Park, who may not be here now: Rita and Gerhard, Kathy and Don, Linda and Ken, Lynne and Mick, Janet and Steve, and dozens more we have mentioned in past posts whom we’ve come to know and love. We can’t possibly name everyone here, but please know that you are in our hearts and minds.

We’re looking forward to the date of the party, February 25, which is actually five days after my birthday. Still, we wanted it to be on a Saturday evening to accommodate those who may not be able to come during the week. On the 20th, the actual date of my birthday, most likely, we’ll have a quiet evening at home or out with a few friends. That we’ll play by ear, as we often do. There are no expectations for that day.

On another note, this morning, we headed to Louise’s office and wrapped up the documents required for next Tuesday’s 10:45 am appointment at the South African Immigration office in Nelspruit. We have all the documents neatly arranged, in the required order, and ready to submit.

Two male bushbucks, Gordy and Stringy, another female bushbuck, and our two usual duikers, Delilah and Derek, are enjoying pellets this morning.

We should have an answer on the extension in four to six weeks. Once they decide, we’ll return to Nelspruit to open the “secret” envelope with our extension approval. We may have only seven days to leave the country if they don’t approve it. We feel pretty confident it will be approved.

We’ve yet to hear anything about our insurance claim for the missing luggage. That, too, we’ll be waiting for a response.

Have a pleasant day!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 26, 2022:

Gordy is such a handsome specimen of the species (bushbuck). He visits us here almost daily. His full name is Gordon Ramsey, after the famous chef. For more photos, please click here.

It seems we always arrive in the US at a holiday time…Differences…

Mongooses with some babies stopped by this morning for paloney.

We’re trying to book a hotel for our time in Boston to see my cousin Phyllis at the end of August. From there, we’re flying to Nevada to see Richard and then flying to Minnesota to see the other three kids and grandchildren. But, the dates we’re getting off the ship, which embarked from Reykjavik, Iceland, arriving in Boston on August 30.

The Labor Day weekend begins a few days later when prices for flights and hotels go through the roof. A hotel we booked in September 2014 is now over double the price we paid at almost US $500 per night, ZAR 8620, more than we’re willing to pay. The other options are hotels with ratings that prevent us from booking them. We’ll have to figure this out in the next few days.

At other times, like when we visited the US most recently, it was the end of the Thanksgiving weekend, where again, prices were higher than usual. It’s not as if we plan to arrive at holiday times. It just coincidentally works out that way.

One of the forms Tom has to sign threw me for a loop. It states that he is also a signer on our bank accounts, and there are enough funds in the account to sustain me while we stay an extra 90 days in the country. There was no such form required for me to sign. No less than 20 years ago, women in South Africa were not allowed to open a bank account without a male signature.

Hmmm…life is different all over the world. I observed this distinctly yesterday when I was getting my prescriptions refilled after my visit to Doc Theo. The pharmacists are helpful and provide suggestions on over-the-counter products customers can use. When we were in the US and went to a pharmacy such as Walgreens or CVS, the pharmacists refused to assist with any suggestions for over-the-counter allergy medications.

This male and female dung beetle were rolling about on a tiny ball of dung. There was barely room for both of them!

Tom and I agreed that pharmacists in the US are especially careful when speaking to customers due to liability and lawsuits, which are much more common in the US than in South Africa or other countries. The pharmacists are kept behind what appears to be locked doors and windows with little access to them unless when submitting or picking up a prescription. They provide minimal information and answers to questions.

We also observed at pharmacies in the US that many of the shelves usually carrying over-the-counter items were practically empty in many cases. In the local pharmacy in Komatipoort, not a single shelf was empty with substantial supplies of most things. Apparently, the supply chain for many pharmaceutical products was severely impacted in the US due to the pandemic.

Also, when we stopped at various grocery stores for a few items as recently as November, there were also numerous empty shelves. Also, “help wanted” signs were at every store and restaurant, both eat-in and carry-out. We’ve yet to see a “help wanted” sign at any of these locations in South Africa.

This isn’t to say that the US or South Africa have figured out anything that makes them better or worse in these challenging economic times. But, what’s the deal with this? We try to stay on top of economic news throughout the world to provide us with a better understanding of countries we’d like to visit in the future.

Yesterday in my prescription refill order, Doc Theo had prescribed two Epipens, one for me and one for Tom, since both of us are allergic to certain bees, hornets, and wasps. They only had one in stock, but they will order the other for the next time we stop by. Below is the bill with the cost of the one EpiPen which we paid yesterday:

The cost of the EpiPen was ZAR 997.52, US $57.91. See below for the cost of EpiPens in the US.

Here’s a chart from the US on the cost of Epipens for 2023:

Cost of Epinephrine auto-injectors by Pharmacy from this site:

Pharmacy Cost of Brand Name EpiPen Cost of Generic Version
CVS $650 $340
Walgreens $735 $341
Stop n Shop $688 $662
Rite Aid $733 $530
Walmart $684 $320
Duane Reade $688 $341
Wegmans $688 $418
Kroger $730 $389
Price Chopper $688 $750

It’s hard to believe what we paid yesterday, ZAR 997.52, US $57.91 for the exact brand name product. Also, the pharmacist explained he’d be able to provide enough meds, based on the fact none of them are ‘scheduled” narcotics, for the year we’ll be out of South Africa, with a one-year prescription from Doc Theo. Then, I won’t have to worry about finding a doctor to prescribe my few medications while we are away.

Hmm…there are numerous financial benefits to spending time in South Africa and other African countries with similar pricing and policies. Some countries don’t require a prescription for any medications which we have discovered along the way.

There’s our news for today, folks. My laptop battery is about to die, so I need to head to the bedroom to recharge it and turn on the fan to cool off a bit in this scorching humid weather.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 25, 2022:

Stringy and Chevy, an impala, are getting along quite well. Usually, the impalas that visit for pellets don’t get close to the veranda. But, Chevy is becoming more comfortable with us sitting at the table. For more photos, please click here.

What to do next?…Planning for the future…

Norman fluffs up his tail to make himself look larger when there is a Big Daddy kudu nearby. He doesn’t do this when he spots any other animals.

After traveling for over ten years, wherever we choose to visit at this point is of the utmost consideration. There are a few places left on this planet that appeal to us, but our top choices have been accomplished. After seeing enough museums, historic buildings, and churches to satisfy our curiosity all over Europe and other parts of the world, our thirst for nature and wildlife remains at the top of our list.

No, we don’t have a “bucket list,” so to speak. If we did, it might be close to empty by now. We’ve been on hundreds of safaris, including guided and self-driving game drives, and we’ve toured some of the world’s most wildlife-rich national parks. We’ve been to Antarctica, seeing millions of penguins, and other wildlife, toured three national parks in India, blissfully spotting the elusive Bengal tigers, and been blessed to spot the Big Five over and over again in Africa, including at one point, “The Ridiculous Nine.”

As for Africa, we’ve been to no less than ten countries and countless national parks, including the finest, the Maasai Mara and the Serengeti. No, we haven’t been to Uganda or Rwanda to see the gorillas in the wild, and we plan to do that sometime in the future. Without a doubt, there’s much more we can see on the continent, and good health permitting, we will do so in the future.

Bossy, pregnant with yet another calf, laid down in the garden to rest in the shade on a hot day.

We’re interested in returning to South America to the Galapagos Islands, something we’ve somehow missed along the way. We spent over two years in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, and many islands in the South Pacific.

We aren’t implying, by any means, that we’ve scoured the world. We haven’t. It would take many more years, if not decades, to say, “we’ve seen everything” we wanted to see. But, at this point and with our current ages and degree of stamina, we must carefully consider what’s next in the itinerary.

We’ve loved, as you know, spending this precious time in South Africa. But, as load-shedding escalates, we wonder how much time we’ll be able to spend here in years to come. If the power grid fails, we’ll be lucky to find a way out of here, as described in yesterday’s post here.

Do we want to return to places we’ve loved, such as Tom’s favorite place, Penguin, Tasmania? Or Costa Rica at that fabulous property in the hills? Or to Kauai, Hawaii, to see the life cycle of the albatross? These are all possibilities for the future.

Impalas stopped by this morning looking for pellets.

But, we figure that now, while our health is good, we should venture out to some new regions, experiencing more cultures, scenery, and wildlife. However, we must never forget that we need to be somewhat near decent medical care if something goes wrong. We know this can happen on a dime!

No, we can’t stay here in Marloth Park for extended periods as we have in the past. Realistically, we’d prefer to move on as we’re doing in June, not only due to the end of our visas for now but for many of these reasons we’ve shared here over the past many months. There’s no doubt we’ll be back in July 2023 when some of our family members are coming to visit, which is so exciting to us. But, next time we return, we won’t stay longer than three to six months.

We don’t feel stressed about making these decisions. We are confident we will choose locations that fulfill our desires and passions. It’s just that, this time, we aren’t planning as far out as we have in the past when so much is changing worldwide, and we must consider how those events impact our future travels.

Moments later, there were several more impalas.

Today, Tom is wrapped up in watching the final football games to determine which teams will go to the Super Bowl in the US. Once the football games are over, we will work on booking for the future and report back here as to our decisions.

Today, I’m cooking a keto beef and broccoli stir fry. Fortunately, there’s no load shedding during the day, but if that changes, cooking on top of the stove won’t be a problem when we can light the gas burners with the lighter.

Have a fantastic day!

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

It was 4:00 am when our regular genet appeared in the garden sitting atop a rock observing these two female bushbucks. For more photos, please click here.

We figured out what bit me…Yikes!!!…Work has begun on visa extentions…

Frightening-looking nest in the laundry area. It’s now gone, gone, gone, thanks to Vusi! What a relief!

This morning when I asked Tom to carry the heavy laundry basket outdoors to the laundry area so I could do a few loads, he returned to the house to tell me to get the camera and be prepared to run. I had no idea what he meant. In those few seconds it took me to get there, I thought it might be a snake or some other exotic creature.

As it turned out, it was a hornet’s nest of some sort, which I’d seen on several occasions but thought it was dead. As I snapped the photo, they started to swarm, and we hightailed out of there as fast as we could. Tom managed to squirt a few shots of Doom but not enough to kill them all.

Vusi just arrived, and he’ll figure it out as he often does. With both of us allergic to bees, we couldn’t take any chances trying to do it ourselves. I know what stung me since I felt the bite in that outdoor laundry area. It had to be a bite from one of those ugly things. Yuck!

Torn Ear stopped by last evening. We hadn’t seen him in a few months. Note his bad right ear.

I am hesitant to go to the laundry area since a few strays may be flying around. I’ve decided to wait a day to go back there, hoping that Vusi’s removal of the nest and spraying of the general area may have driven any strays away. I did get the photo, but it’s blurry, as shown, since my hands weren’t steady when I took the shot. Ugly things, aren’t they?

We realized we needed to be more diligent in checking our surroundings for nests. We’re pretty good about looking for snakes and scorpions but haven’t been as conscientious in looking for nests in ceilings and near baseboards. However, we have inadvertently spotted a few that Vusi or Zef removed.

Tom spotted two nests inside the house on a baseboard a few days ago. This was on the weekend, and we didn’t want to wait for Vusi or Zef to come on Monday. He sprayed the nests thoroughly, waited a while, and then scrapped the nests off of the baseboard. We keep checking the area to see if they returned. So far, so good.

Octomom and her eight piglets. Amazingly, they all stay together day after day. She’s such a good mom.

This morning I received the comprehensive list of documents we need to submit to the law firm to commence the visa extension process. Since I had started compiling a few of the docs already, we had a good start on it. By Monday, after we sign a few documents, Louise will print; we can sign them and then scan them using the handy new scanning app we added to my phone called Mobile Scanner. It’s the best scanner app we’ve ever used in the past.

Tom wrapped up the flight details this morning from MPQ (Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger) to EDI (Edinburgh, Scotland). We got a PDF document from Expedia to submit with our other documents. Also, we must have a booked flight out of South Africa by the time our new visa extensions end, which, if granted, will end on June 8, 2023.

We prefer not to include bank statements, but South Africa’s Immigration requires all requests for extensions to include a recent bank statement illustrating that the applicants have sufficient funds to sustain them during the additional time they spend in the country. Also, the bank statement must show both names of the applicants, or a marriage certificate would be required. Fortunately, our bank accounts show both of our names.

A female zebra stopped by this morning without any companions. Tom thought she looked pregnant.

Once we submit all of these documents and more, we’ll still have more to do, including paying additional fees of about ZAR 1000, each, US $58 which the law firm will process for us. Plus, they will prepare the online application, which we will review later. The total cost for the extension including legal and governmental fees will be about ZAR 24152, US $1400, which is a lot less than flying to Zambia or another non-bordering country to attempt to get another visa stamp.

After an almost two-week hiatus, we’ll return to Jabula for dinner. We’re looking forward to seeing Dawn and Leon and hearing about their holiday in Mozambique and Swaziland over the past eight days. It will be fun to return to our usual weekend dining spot.

We hope all is well with you and your loved ones.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 20, 2022:

The sounds from the Go-Away birds sound like “go away.” For more photos, please click here.

Whining today…Please bear with me…

This is duiker Derek who visits several times a day.

Note: We couldn’t post more photos today due to a WiFi outage and using my phone’s WiFi as a hotspot.

This morning I spent no less than an hour on the phone with the credit card insurance claim company for our missing bag from November 24. They had sent me several emails requesting more information, such as my relationship with Tom, asking we send in our marriage certificate. Ridiculous!

Why would we carry our marriage certificate with us when we’ve been married for 28 years? Our passports should be all that’s needed to prove we are a married couple. And isn’t that discriminatory to some degree? Would we be unable to file a claim if we weren’t married? Does marital status determine eligibility for anything these days?

With some coercing, I managed to get them to waive that requirement. Next, they insisted on a copy of our homeowner’s insurance policy that may cover the lost bag. How would we have a homeowners insurance policy if we don’t own a house? I’d explained this fact in detail when I filed the claim, but it, too, fell on deaf ears.

Then they wanted proof that Ethiopian Airlines hadn’t already reimbursed us. How do you get evidence that you didn’t get something when they too aren’t responding to our tiny claim, submitted almost two months ago, only allowing for a maximum of US $800 for lost luggage?

Then, they didn’t like the format for which I sent in the 22 receipts via PDF documents. PDF is the universal standard for sending documents by email. How ridiculous is this? I asked what preferred document type she did not know. Oh, good grief.

They are doing everything they can to cause us to give up and not file the claim. We wondered how complicated this process would be for travelers without computer/online experience and no one to help them. Surely, they’d give up in no time at all, saving
the insurance company thousands of dollars in claims each year.

Even as adept as I am in handling this stuff, I was at my wits end this morning, sitting at the dining room table with a fan blowing hot, humid air over me, offering little relief at 92F, 36C with the dew point at 67%, wasps flying in the house with the doors wide open, my eyes itching and nose running from hayfever which I can’t seem to get under control and all the yucky stuff
over the phone, especially when the phone signal keeps going out.

Now, for the past two hours, we’ve had no WiFi signal, and I am typing this post using Notepad, wondering when and if I’ll be able to upload it sometime today. I sent a Whatsapp message to the internet provider, using the pricey WiFi on my phone, but I had to leave it on to get a response from them, costing more money. Hmmm, it’s not my favorite day.

Soon, we’ll receive an email from the law firm with instructions for the online work we need to do to apply for the extension. This requires hours online with one document after another, including bank statements, copies of investments, reason letters explaining why we want to stay, passport-type photos, and on and on. Hopefully, the WiFi will be back soon enough to get
all of these tasks were completed on time.

Last night’s load-shedding lasted from 11:00 pm, 2300 hrs, to 5:30 am, then went off again at 7:00 am until 9:30 am. It got scorching in the bedroom during that long stretch, and I was awake most of that time. I couldn’t do anything on my phone to help the time pass when the WiFi was out most of the night. The internet provider blames the outage on load-shedding when the batteries that supply the lines die.

We could leave if we wanted to, but after the losses we’ve incurred since Covid, we really feel we need to stay here until we plan to go in June. Each month we stay here, we save thousands of dollars since living here is relatively inexpensive. We looked into staying in and around Europe while we waited for our August cruises, but the cost to do so was two to
three times more than what we pay here.

Besides, on regular days, we’re pretty content. If we weren’t, I assure you, we’d leave, regardless of the cost. We can take the heat, humidity, and insects, but when we have that and no power and no WiFi, plus endless hours required to be online for forms and documents, it’s definitely causing me to do some whining today.

This afternoon at 4:00 pm,1600 hrs, the caterer is coming to help us decide on the menu for my upcoming birthday party on February 25. I changed the date from a week earlier since Lousie and Danie are going to Cape Town, returning on the 20th, the actual day of my birthday. But I wanted to accommodate those guests who work during the week and have the party on a Saturday, which works well for most.

Tomorrow is another day and hopefully a little more pleasing to my tastes. Sorry about the whining. Sometimes, life can be challenging for all of us, and a little whining doesn’t hurt anybody.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 18, 2022:

Elephant carrying her trunk on her tusk. Early elephants had tusks, and one idea is that as tusks became longer, it was harder and harder for elephants to get their mouths to the ground to reach the grass. The trunk on their tusk helps them to reach more food and to eat more in a shorter time. For more photos, please click here.

Disappointing postponement…

Nina was in the garden by herself.

Over the past few days, we did a few trial runs using Zoom for our upcoming appearance on KSTP TV, which was scheduled for January 19. Unfortunately, we could not get the app to produce a clear video and audio from the bush in South Africa. As an alternative, we are now scheduled to appear at the KSTP studio for a live broadcast on September 22, 2023, at 9:00 am.

We’ll return to the US after two cruises, one from the west coast of Norway and the other from  Iceland, Greenland, and Canada, ending in Boston. We’ll stay in Boston for a few days to visit my cousin Phyllis, and then off on a long-overdue trip to Nevada to see son Richard and renew our driver’s licenses. After that, we’ll head to Minneapolis to see family and do the TV show.

After doing the Garage Logic Podcast (found here) in Minneapolis on May 7, 2022, to such a heartwarming response from our readers throughout the world and countless numbers of their listeners, we’re happy to do another media event. We figured since the Zoom app didn’t work well enough for us to appear on US TV from South Africa, an appearance in the studio would be more satisfying for viewers. The station is excited to have us appear, making this an extraordinary experience for us.

A minute later, Norman, Nina, and the baby appeared.

On many occasions we’ve mentioned we don’t care to do media events, but after the fun, we had on Garage Logic, we changed our minds. That’s not to say we’ll be writing a book and doing the “book signing” tour, but it is an excellent way to increase our worldwide readership and allow our readers to see us “in person.”

Many have asked us why we don’t write a book, and the answer is simple. After writing 3791 posts over the past ten-plus years, we don’t feel like taking the time required to write, publish and promote a book. After all, our experiences are revealed in this vast number of posts. Consolidating it into a book would be a laborious undertaking, which we don’t have the time or motivation to do.

As it stands, we spend no less than half of each day searching for and handling photos, putting each day’s post together to upload on our site. If I start after breakfast and a bit of food prep, I usually don’t get the post uploaded and proofread until 1:00 or 2:00 pm, leaving little time for other activities.

Kudus stopped by early this morning.

As much as we enjoy doing the daily posts, if we were to write a book, we’d probably have to stop posting daily, instead spending half of the day on the book. That defeats the purpose of what we enjoy the most, living our lives to the fullest and sharing it all with YOU!

Our photo ops have been limited since the animals began returning after the long holiday season. Most have been showing up in the early morning hours, and lately, I have been sleeping in a little later than usual after the many months of long-haul Covid symptoms (now gone) and in the past week, the awful bee sting on my left arm which as greatly improved but is still red and itchy. It should be gone in a few days.

Last night, with Jabula closed for eight days, and we headed to Bos Restaurant for dinner. The food was good (but not as good as Jabula), and we were back home by 7:30 pm, 1930 hrs, to more load shedding. We had a nice time at the bar chatting with a few locals and then enjoyed dinner at a table for two. We streamed a few episodes of The Crown, Season 5, which were quite entertaining.

A young kudu was drinking from the pool.

Tonight, Tom will hook up the second-floor inverter to our bedroom so we can use the fan and the WiFi. There was a 4½ hour load-shedding stint during the night, and for some odd reason, the inverter hadn’t recharged, and neither the fan nor the WiFi was working. It was sweltering in the bedroom without the fan, and I didn’t get much sleep. I often stream a TV series on my phone if I can’t sleep at night, but this isn’t possible without WiFi. It was another long night.

This morning Louise, aware we were having trouble with the inverter, wrote to explain that they purchased a more powerful one for us. On Monday, the electrician is coming to begin wiring the house. Once fully installed by the end of this month, we’ll be able to run the entire house on the new system, including the two refrigerators and chest freezer, with limited use of the aircon in the bedroom. The big fan is usually sufficient to keep us comfortable. We couldn’t be more thrilled with this news. It will change everything for us.

We’ll head to Giraffe for dinner, where we often see more people we know. No doubt we have another pleasant evening out to dinner in the bush.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 14, 2022:

We’re always thrilled to see the porcupine photos from the trail cam the following day. For more photos, please click here.

Friday the 13th…No superstitions here!…Visa extension is in the works with the law firm…

Big Daddy, handsome as ever standing close to us.

Today is Friday the 13th. We don’t give it a thought other than to mention it when it occurs. How did this superstition ever start anyway?

Here’s some information from History.com that explains the potential origins of this often feared day of the month:

“Long considered a harbinger of bad luck, Friday the 13th has inspired a late 19th-century secret society, an early 20th-century novel, a horror film franchise, and not one but two unwieldy terms—paraskavedekatriaphobia and friggatriskaidekaphobia—that describe the fear of this supposedly unlucky day.

The Fear of 13

Just like walking under a ladder, crossing paths with a black cat, or breaking a mirror, many people hold fast to the belief that Friday the 13th brings bad luck. Though it’s uncertain exactly when this particular tradition began, negative superstitions have swirled around the number 13 for centuries.

While Western cultures have historically associated the number 12 with completeness (there are 12 days of Christmas, 12 months and zodiac signs, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 gods of Olympus, and 12 tribes of Israel, just to name a few examples), its successor 13 has a long history as a sign of bad luck.

The ancient Code of Hammurabi, for example, reportedly omitted a 13th law from its list of legal rules. Though this was probably a clerical error, superstitious people sometimes point to this as proof of 13’s longstanding negative associations.

Fear of the number 13 has even earned a psychological term: triskaidekaphobia.

READ MORE: What’s So Unlucky About the Number 13?

Why is Friday the 13th Unlucky?

According to biblical tradition, 13 guests attended the Last Supper, held on Maundy Thursday, including Jesus and his 12 apostles (one of whom, Judas, betrayed him). The next day, of course, was Good Friday, the day of Jesus’ crucifixion.

The seating arrangement at the Last Supper is believed to have given rise to a longstanding Christian superstition that having 13 guests at a table was a bad omen—specifically, that it was courting death.

Though Friday’s negative associations are weaker, some have suggested they also have roots in the Christian tradition: Just as Jesus was crucified on a Friday, Friday was also said to be the day Eve gave Adam the fateful apple from the Tree of Knowledge, as well as the day Cain killed his brother, Abel.”

Friday the 13th occurs 2 times in 2023
Three Fridays the 13ths last took place in 2015 (February, March, November) and will next happen in 2026. So this year, in 2023, there are two Fridays the 13ths (January and October).”
So pretty mom Begonia and baby Buttercup stopped by again today.
We aren’t superstitious, although I hesitate to walk under a ladder; from a logical viewpoint based on the fact that something or someone could fall. Tom has no superstitions whatsoever.
So here we are on Friday the 13th. Jabula is closed until the 20th so that Dawn, Leon, and their staff could have some holiday time when they worked so hard during the holiday season. Funny, I ran into David in the vegetable section at Spar yesterday. We gave each other our usual warm hug and smiled warmly, happy to bump into each other in produce. He was glad to have over a week off to recover from the busy establishment this past six weeks.
We paid the legal fees yesterday and signed the contract to have the Cape Town law firm represent us in obtaining a visa extension. By Monday, we’ll receive a list of the documents we must procure to have the application submitted for approval by March 9.
According to the lawyers, our concern about filing 60 days before the visa expires was unnecessary. We have plenty of time. But once again, what appears on certain governmental websites may not be “cast in concrete.” Filing through the law firm will still require us to drive to Nelspruit to apply, and two, pick up the actual visas for our passports when they are tendered. Each trip will be about a four or five-hour turnaround.
Bossy, the kudu from our last house, two kilometers from here, stops by several times a day. It appears she is pregnant again.
Hopefully, in both cases, our appointments will be early enough in the day that we don’t have to stay overnight in Nelspruit since there’s no way it’s safe to drive on the N4 after dark.
Since Jabula is closed until the 20th, tonight we’ll go to dinner at Bos Restaurant in the Bush Centre, and tomorrow night, we’ll head to Giraffe, both of which are a short drive down the road. The menu selections in both restaurants are tricky for me to order, with most foods “crumbed” and deep fried. But as always, I’ll figure something out. I can’t ever order a bunless hamburger after I discovered all mince (ground beef) delivered to restaurants in Marloth Park contain wheat as a filler.
Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 13, 2022:

Last year on this date, we celebrated Rita’s birthday at the Khaya Umdani house, owned by Louise and Danie, where we’ll celebrate my birthday in February. I made this keto chocolate cake for Rita. For more, please click here.

An injured young beauty…Extended load shedding hours…Preparing for our Zoom TV appearance in the US

This sweet young zebra has an injured back right leg and arrived alone to check out the food situation.

It’s a beautiful day! The high today will only be 90F, 32C, with moderate humidity and dew point. Perfect! Load shedding started at 11:00 am and will last until 3:30 pm, 1530 hrs. With Stage 6 load shedding occurring over the next few days, we decided we’d grocery shop at around 12:00 pm, so by the time we return with the groceries, the refrigerator will soon almost be running again. This is always a consideration when shopping for food.

There will be another 4½ hour stint tonight at 7:00 pm, 1900 hrs., until 11:30 pm, 2330hrs. So far, so good. These extended periods are only a concern to us regarding keeping our perishables in the refrigerator from spoiling. The only times we’ve lost food to spoiling was when there were more extended outages, often for eight to ten hours or longer, sometimes for days.

There are many reasons her leg is bleeding. It could have been an altercation with another animal, a bit she scratched on a tree until her leg bled, or an escape from one of the eight hungry lions in Marloth Park.

When we shop, we buy very little meat, nor do we purchase any pre-made foods or salads. One has no idea how long they may have been sitting in the case at the market. Food spoilage doesn’t seem to be a problem when we place some perishable items into the chest freezer for extended outages. Our simple trick of putting a huge metal bowl in the refrigerator filled with ice seems to make a huge difference in keeping the refrigerated items safe to consume after four-hour outages or longer.

But, it doesn’t hurt to use a thermometer to determine that food in the refrigerator hasn’t been stored for more than an hour or two at 40F, 4.4C or lower. See this article here for details.

This afternoon around 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs., the KSTP TV show’s producer, who will interview us via Zoom, will contact us to do a test and confirm Zoom is working well in this area. They want to ensure we don’t have connectivity problems at the time of the live interview in a few weeks.

She was sweet and gentle when she stopped by this morning.

Once this is done, it will give us peace of mind. Our recent WiFi issues have been resolved, especially since most holidaymakers have left the park. It’s been easy to stream our favorite shows at night and for Tom to watch the NFL football games on his laptop during daytime hours. The playoffs are on the horizon. We’ll see how well the Minnesota Vikings do during these final games.

This morning, a pretty young female zebra stopped by the garden alone. Most often, zebras visit in groups called a dazzle. Sometimes there are two zebras, but most often, we see four or more. The fact she was alone made us wonder why. Then we noticed blood dripping down her right back leg. It appeared to have been injured, but it was difficult to determine the cause or extent of the injury.

Also, Tom mentioned he’d seen her recently, and half of her tail was missing. This could have been a birth anomaly or a fight with another animal. Zebras are ferocious when fighting, using their back legs for bone-shattering kicks. Also, we considered that she may have managed to escape from the jaws of one of the eight lions in Marloth Park, injuring her leg and biting half of her tail. We’ll never know.

Nina and Norman are so in love. He’s always so happy to be with her, as seen on the look on his face.

We gave her lots of pellets and cold chunks of carrots, which she seemed to enjoy. We’ll keep an eye out for her and see how she progresses. We hope she’ll recover soon and be reunited with her family unit.

When I got up this morning, Norman and Nina were in the garden. It’s been great to see them again over the past few days. I’d made a big bowl of “Norman’s Lunch,” and he willingly shared the contents with Nina. We didn’t see the baby, but surely she was somewhere nearby. I say “she” but have no confirmation that it’s a she yet, but we’ll keep watching so I can name her.

Begonia and Buttercup…a new little bushbuck and her mom that visit us daily.

We’ve been watching an entertaining Amazon Prime series the past few nights, Tom Clancy’s “Jack Ryan.” You may enjoy this show if you’re a fan of international intrigue and espionage. It’s included with Amazon Prime if you already have the streaming service.

At noon, we’re heading to Komatipoort to do our shopping which usually takes about an hour plus another hour of round-trip driving time. We should be back by 2:00 pm, 1400 hrs., when we’ll put everything away and place ice in the metal bowl in the refrigerator until the power returns 90 minutes later or sooner.

Have a lovely day!

Be well!

Photo from one year ago today, January 12, 2022:

What a night it was in the bush! These fantastic creatures stopped by after we’d left some bones out after dark. Genets are carnivores. For more photos, please click here.

We’re back after no WiFi for almost two days…It’s a piglet morning!…The wonders of nature never cease to amaze us!…

Octomom with her eight piglets, four of which she adopted.

We were both antsy without WiFi all day Thursday and most of the day on Friday. A train details about 100 miles, 160 km from here, and the internet lines were toppled. Then, a massive storm prevented repairs when It rained in buckets for over 24 hours.

We’d have gone to Kruger National Park, but with the rain and potential flooding on the dirt roads and fewer possible sightings in the storm, it made no sense to go to the park. Instead, we’d stayed home, except for a quick trip to Louise and Danie’s Info Centre to pick up a puzzle that I thought could entertain me with nothing else to do.

The Info Centre has dozens of books and puzzles guests can borrow at no charge, none of which could entertain us during this period. Who was I kidding that I could do a puzzle? With my short attention span, I lasted about five minutes and then packed up all the pieces and placed them back in the box near the door to return to Louise the next time we went out.

Now, I write this post at 10:30 am, and once again, the signal is lost, most likely due to the high winds occurring all morning…more downed lines may keep us without WiFi for days to come. Then again, TIA, ‘This is Africa,” and stuff happens. The infrastructure is delicate, and the slightest situation upsets an entire service for hours, days, or weeks. It doesn’t pay to complain. No one is listening. When it gets fixed, it gets fixed.

You may ask, “How do I post a notice that we have no WiFi?” I use Google Fi on my phone, which is way too expensive to use as a hotspot to work on posts. We only use it for a few moments here and there to get load-shedding, water,  or internet outage updates. But when the WiFi returns, I will keep typing and save this post onto a document to upload later. Sure, it’s frustrating, but what can we do?

I’ll keep watching to see if it returns for a few moments and upload this post as quickly as possible.

Octomom and her piglets snacking on pellets, apples, and carrots.

In the interim, we wanted to share a most precious update on Lollie’s piglets. Last night, while at the bar at Jabula, I spoke to  Honorary Ranger David. He, too, had seen Lollie and explained what was wrong with her. When she had her piglets a few months ago, there may have been a fourth piglet that was never delivered. It may have been the sac or afterbirth hanging from her rear end, not her intestines.

What happens next is what would happen to a mammal if the afterbirth isn’t delivered….it will become gangrenous and eventually turn black and infect the animal to the point that death is unavoidable. It is sad to think that poor little Lollie has been wandering around the bush suffering for the past few months, to the point where she finally had to release her three piglets to be on their own.

For a few days, they came here without her. We fed them. We called Deidre from Wild and Free Rehabilitation to ask how to care for them without a mom when they were still suckling. Deidre assured me that the carrot and apple bits, along with pellets, would help them to survive, and I found myself cutting them up several times a day to feed them when they often arrived, just like Lollie, who’d been our resident warthog for many months.

On the third day, shortly after the piglets left together, and to wander the bush, Lollie, whom we’d assumed had died, showed up in the garden standing at her usual spot by the edge of the veranda. We fed her pellets, apples, and carrots, but she didn’t eat much. The dark, gangrenous afterbirth was still hanging out of her. It broke our hearts.

After a while, she walked a short distance into a grassy area and peed, then slowly walked away. She looked thin and frail. We figured this would be the last time we’d see her. She was going off to die. I must admit tears welled up in my eyes. There was nothing we could do.

About ten minutes later, the three piglets arrived once again. They all sniffed where she’d stood at the veranda’s edge and then found where she’d peed. One of the little piglets started running around in circles, squeaking louder than we’d ever heard. The other two followed suit. They must have assumed they’d found their mom. They followed her scent but never found her.

The next day, a miracle happened. A mom we’ve seen several times a day with four piglets arrived with Lollie’s three piglets in tow. She had adopted them! After spending hours watching them for days, I quickly recognized the three little pigs, each with their distinguishing marks.

It was amazing to watch and see how her piglets had accepted them, and they all played together as if they were all related. We fed them plenty of pellets, apples, and carrots. After a while, they left but returned several times a day throughout the days to follow.

Pigs are smart. But, another oddity occurred. We’d seen one little piglet alone in our garden for a few days, perhaps lost from her mom. On the second day, after the mom who’d adopted Lolle’s three piglets appeared again, she had the lost, lonely piglet with her. Now, a mom of seven was a mom of eight, and I named her Octomom. In no time at all, she’ll know her name.

As for naming the piglets, well, that will take time once they develop their little characteristics and personalities. So far today, Octomom and the eight piglets have been here at least four times and surely will return as the day progresses.

So there’s our piglet story which helps soften the blow of losing Lollie, the resident warthog we’ve loved since we rented this house in May, eight months ago.

That’s it for today, folks.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago, January 7, 2022:

Gosh, our porcupine is becoming quite a regular. Next time we shop, we’ll purchase some root vegetables for her. For more photos, please click here.

Two New Year’s surprises!…Can’t stop smiling!…Fun New Year’s Day with friends…

We haven’t seen Noah since we returned from the US, most likely because Norman and Nina’s baby was born about six weeks ago. They sent him off to a new territory. Soon, Deidre, from Wild and Free Rehabilitation, will release a young female as a mate for him.

The first surprise was reader/friend Lisa contacting us yesterday, inviting us to join the four of them for dinner at Jabula tomorrow evening, January 3. She’d written to us quite a while ago that she’d contact us when they arrived in Marloth Park, prompted by our site and endless raves about the bush,

And there was Lisa, writing a comment on our site and contacting me by email to see if we could join them for dinner. We are thrilled to do so. Here again, is more of our readers coming to Marloth Park inspired by our enthusiastic posts about how blissful it is in Marloth Park. We are always delighted to meet more readers/friends.

Well, hang onto your chair for the second surprise we got yesterday while Dawn and Leon were here. I heard my WhatsApp phone ringing and jumped up to answer it. All of my contacts in WhatsApp are people we know, so I assumed it was a friend called to say Happy New Year.

Another dung beetle with his ball of dung in the garden.

An unrecognizable voice was at the end of the line. She explained she was from baggage handlers service, and I held my breath as she spoke. She was in Nelspruit and was on her way to bring us ONE of the lost bags, not both. We hope we’ll be lucky and receive the second bag.

Ninety minutes later, the delivery person texted me that she was at Louise’s office. Tom jumped in the car and headed there, picking up the bag she’d left with Louise. We have all deliveries sent to Louise’s office since our address is impossible to find with the inconsistent numbering of properties on the dirt road.

I was hoping the found bag was Tom’s, not mine. I had found most of the receipts from my stuff, but Tom’s was nearly impossible, making completing the insurance claim difficult and cumbersome. But, hoping that his bag arrives soon, we won’t have to file the claim. This makes life so much easier for me, especially with other tasks hanging over our heads.

This morning, I emptied my bag, and it appeared nothing was missing, which was surprising. I had a lot of nice clothes and toiletries in that bag. It was funny yesterday; I was about to place an order from the same online retailer that ships to South Africa, where I’d purchased about ten items about four months ago. Something stopped me, and I decided to wait a few more weeks before re-ordering the same items I’d bought. Hmm…safari luck.

Now I have plenty of tops to wear around the house and when going to dinner—what a relief. Before the return of my bag, I only had a few tee shirts to wear, along with a couple of very casual tops I’d purchased from Amazon when we were in Minnesota last month when we also had to buy winter clothes to wear while we were there.

We see Aggie, a resident agama, in our garden every few days. We’d like to interact with him, but he is very shy.

Anyway, New Year’s Day turned out better than expected. We had a fantastic day with Dawn and Leon. We ate early in the day, and by 5:00 pm, Leon was tired, and they needed to head home. It was wonderful to spend that time with them, as it always is, away from the hustle and bustle of the restaurant and frequent interruptions when the four of us are attempting to chat.

Tom and I stayed on the veranda for a few more hours, and when the mozzies began to attack, we headed indoors to stream a few more episodes of Peaky Blinders and eventually doze off to sleep. I didn’t sleep well and was awake for no less than three hours during the night. Perhaps, a nap will be on today’s agenda.

Everything is prepped for tonight’s easy dinner of ham and cheese sliders, one more time, salad, and rice. I’m wrapping up a few laundry loads and have emptied my “found” luggage. Now, I am scrambling to find photos to post for today. We don’t have a single image to post with a few animals visiting over the past few weeks. Right now, Tom is watching for photo ops.

No headache. No facial pain. I am very grateful. We’ll be back with more soon.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 2, 2022:

Thirsty after eating pellets, piglets needed a drink from mom. For more photos, please click here.