Wonderful evening with friends…More socializing ramping up soon…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a fantastic day filled with wonders.

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

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

First trip to Kruger National Park in 2021!!!…New photos!…

It’s estimated an aggressive hippo sharp teeth kills 500 people a year in Africa. Hippos can crush a human to death with their weight ranging anywhere from 3,000 to 9,000 pounds. But, they are amazing to see in the wild. Note the oxpeckers on the hide of the hippo on the right

Yesterday, after uploading the post, I suggested to Tom that we head to Kruger National Park and purchase our year-long Wild Card, which allows us to enter Kruger as often as we’d like for the next 12 months. With most of the Easter weekend visitors and holidaymakers apparently gone, we figured it would be a good time to go.

We could have applied online, but the website was cumbersome, so we decided to do it “the old way” and appear in person. It proved to be a good decision. We were the only applicants in the Crocodile Gate office, resulting in no waiting. We were well masked, gloved, and brought our own pen for any necessary filling out of documents or signatures.

At the Verhami Dam, we spotted this “bloat” of hippos munching on the tall grass.

Although we were the only visitors in the office, it took at least 30 minutes for the purchase to be completed and for us to finally head back to our car. Of course, with a temporary pass in hand, we decided to go into the park right away. It was midday and we were well aware the sightings could be minimal.

We hadn’t been in the park since January 2019 before I had open-heart surgery. There was no way I could have been bouncing around on the bumpy roads after the surgery when we finally left South Africa after three months of recovery in May 2019. We’d missed it.

We wanted to yell out, “Pick up your head” but were satisfied when the hippo in the main photo did so.

Generally, early morning can be the best time to do a game drive, in our case, what is referred to as a self-drive. Although, in the car, we weren’t as high up as one would be on a professional game drive vehicle with a guide. We kept a watchful eye as we meandered down the roads, to see what we could find. As usual, we weren’t disappointed.

Not every tourist that enters the park is determined to see the “Big Five.” Sure, it’s great to spot a leopard, lion, cape buffalo, elephant, and rhino. But, for us, we never focus on such a lofty goal. We’ve seen the Big Five more times than we can count. At this point, although fun to see, it’s not a priority for us.

Zebra traffic on the main road.

We’re always looking for good photo ops, regardless of the species and for us, it proved to be as productive a day as any. Over the next several days we’ll be posting our photos and of course, over the next months, returning to the park regularly.

As for the application for the Wild Card, which resulted in a cost of US $352, ZAR 5100, for foreign nationals, the application process had to be completed once back at the house, requiring we call a phone number, speak to a representative and give them the code we got on the receipt.

We waited patiently until they moved over into the grass.

We won’t actually receive a card. Instead, this morning shortly after I spoke to the representative, we received an email with a confirmation letter that we must carry with us in order to enter the park. Plus, each time we go, we have to fill out another form with personal and passport information. Lots of steps.

In any case, we certainly enjoyed driving through the park. Deciding to go on short notice, we didn’t eat lunch at the popular Mugg & Bean, located in Lower Sabi on the Sabi River, although we stopped for a bathroom break and to check out the action on the Sabi River from the restaurant.

It was quite a day for zebra sightings.

We’d already defrosted and prepared bacon-wrapped fillet mignon for dinner and knew, if we ate lunch, we’d never be hungry by dinnertime. We only eat one meal a day, only due to the fact, that our way of eating totally diminishes our appetites until 24 hours later.

Long ago, we both decided that we wouldn’t eat unless we were hungry. Thirty days prior to leaving India, Tom began the process of losing weight he gained stuck in that hotel room, eating four bananas, toast, and pasta, day after day.  He has since lost 25 pounds, 11.3 kg, and I, too, had lost 25 pounds, 11.3 kg, while in India, after changing our diets further.

Crocodiles are always scary-looking, in the water and out.

It’s hard for us to believe that combined, we’ve lost 50 pounds, 22.7 kg, of unnecessary weight in the past several months, greatly improving our health. We both feel committed to maintaining our current way of eating, weight, and resulting in better health with the new changes. We both feel great and love fitting into our minimal wardrobes.

Soon, we’re off for Komatipoort for grocery shopping and to purchase some pellets, Now that the Easter alcohol ban has lifted, we’ll restock a few items.

More photos from Kruger will be posted tomorrow.

Hope you have a pleasant day and that all is well your way!

Photo from one year ago today, April 8, 2020:

A Brown Gecko is hanging out in this plant with sharp thorns, a safe hiding spot for sure. For more year-ago photos, please click here.

Finally, I saw it!!!…Last night’s outstanding visitor…

Handsome male impala.

Sure, I wish I could have taken a photo of last night’s porcupine. Tom was doing the dishes while I was in the bedroom setting up a show for us to stream when quietly, he opened the bedroom door and signaled to me to follow him. He’d happened to peer out the sliding door with the garden light on, to see if any visitors were in the garden in the dark and spotted the porcupine for the fifth time.

Once our night vision trail cam arrives, we will be able to share photos of our visiting porcupine. We wondered why she starts out in the same spot each time Tom has seen her, realizing it was a place next to the edge of the veranda where we often leave seeds for Frank and The Misses.

A medical clinic opened up this month in Marloth Park, ideal for emergency treatments.

When searching online for porcupine sources of food, we discovered the following:

“In the winter, they primarily eat evergreen needles and the inner bark of trees, often feeding heavily on a single tree causing damage or death to the tree. In the spring and summer, porcupines shift to eating berries, seeds, grasses, leaves, roots, and stems.”

Apparently, the seeds we left for Frank at night have attracted her and are the reason she’s returned time and again. Tom has kept a watchful eye out for her since his first of five sightings beginning a few months ago, hoping to be able to show her to me. Last night was indeed a treat for me.

A creek running through Marloth Park.

I was totally in awe of what my eyes beheld. She had her quills fully extended and she was much larger than I’d anticipated. She disappeared into the bush in a matter of seconds with no time for me to prepare the camera for a nighttime shot. Thus, we’re awfully excited about the prospect of the trail cam arriving in the next month or two.

As for yesterday, I had the wonderful treat of a long conversation on Facebook Messenger with my dear friend Karen, who’s now moved to her fabulous home in Florida from Minnesota. It was Karen and Rich with whom we stayed when visiting Minnesota in 2019. We rarely stay with anyone while traveling, but it’s been so comfortable staying with them, we didn’t hesitate to do so again.

At some point in the future, we’ll visit them in Florida, although they are planning to visit us here in Marloth Park sometime in the next year when the timing is right when international travel eases a bit. We plan to move into one of Louise’s larger houses for the almost three weeks they plan to be here. (Our current house is too small for four adults).  It’s not worth coming all this way, halfway around the world, for a short stay.

The Marloth Park Water Treatment Plant.

Tomorrow, Tom will take the little rental car to the Marlothi shopping center’s car wash for a thorough cleaning, both inside and out, which car rental companies require in South Africa before returning vehicles, or an additional charge will be imposed.  On Friday, we’ll return the car to the Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport to collect another vehicle for the next 82 days.

It’s about a 75-minute drive each way. After we collect the car we plan to stop in Malelane on the return drive to do our grocery shopping at the fantastic Spar Market, which is packed with goodies for our way of eating. It will be a fun outing. Next week after the traffic lessens in Kruger National Park, we’ll head to the park for a much-anticipated self-drive in search of amazing wildlife and lunch at the popular Mugg & Bean in Lower Sabie. We can hardly wait. The Easter crowds are gradually diminishing with less and less traffic in Marloth Park.

A lovely animal on the side of the road.

Following is a video we found on Facebook with a kudu attacking a man who got too close to the massive mature male. The animals we love so much are wild and it’s never safe to attempt to touch them or get too close. I hope this video comes up for you. Please see here:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/377035355798904/permalink/1901623916673366/

Have a fantastic day.

Photo from one year ago today, April 7, 2020:

Actually, this is the only health food store, Healthy Hut, within a half-hour drive from our holiday home in Kauai, Hawaii in 2015. The inventory was ripe with fresh, locally grown organic produce, grass-fed meats, free-range chickens and eggs, and food and health supplies one would find in a much larger location in a big city. Pricey? Yep! For the full story from six years ago today, please click here. For the year-ago post, please click here.

Almost every day something amazing transpires in the bush…See the latest…”Pig in a Pond”…

I.B. (Itchy Butt) laying in the wet, muddy cement pond, attempting to ease the itching.

Here’s our new video of “Pig in the Pond”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yw4uSqCK_1o

If we wait patiently, it will happen. Just when we think we don’t have enough photos to share here, something amazing happens in the bush and once again, we’re in business, ready to post a new story with accompanying photos. Late yesterday afternoon was no exception.

OK, I get it. You may be tired of hearing about warthogs and their hysterical antics. But, the reality remains…we see more warthogs at this particular house in the bush than we’d seen in past houses in 2013/2014, 2018/2019. Undoubtedly, we’ve embraced this fact and named most of the pigs, many due to their physical characteristics or peculiar behavior.

The cool water, on a cool day, must have made him feel better.

Today, we introduce you to I.B., short for “Itchy Butt.” We’ve never seen anything like it. Yes, we’ve had a Pig in the Pond in 2018/2019, when Little, whom we seldom see now, since Tiny, has become “King of the Garden” entered the pond and we wrote a story about him, entitled, “Pig in the Pond, Pig on the Porch, Pig in the Parlor. See that post here.

Little not only entered the pond, but he also came up the seven slippery steps to the veranda (the porch) and entered the living room (thus, the parlor). We continue to laugh over that story even a few years later. And now, this new pig, who arrived late yesterday afternoon with a severe itch, spent considerable time in our cement pond.

He repositioned himself in an attempt to feel better, scratching his hind-end on the sand.

During the first few months since we arrived in Marloth Park in 2021, it rained non-stop for days and days, leaving mosquitoes breeding in every pool of water, including cement ponds. The cement pond outside our bedroom window was filled with vegetation, creating an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Moses, an employee of Louise and Danie, stopped by one day and emptied the pond’s vegetation and water, filling it with sand. Well, it continued to rain and the cement pond filled with water once again. No doubt, more mosquitoes are breeding in the pond, although the small amount of water continues to evaporate during the past dry weeks.

Nothing seemed to help relieve the itching.

Yesterday afternoon, as we lounged on the veranda, watching a variety of animals stop by, including bushbucks, kudus, Frank and The Misses, and of course, numerous warthogs. I’d stepped inside to put away the laundry when I heard Tom yell out to me, “Get the camera! Pig in the pond!”

And there was I.B., rolling around in the mud and remaining water in the cement pond mainly attempting to scratch his itchy hindquarters. He was on a mission, scratching against the boulders lining the pond, using the sand at the bottom to scratch, and later when he exited the pond, he practically visited every surface in the garden to help him get a satisfactory scratch. During a period of one hour, he entered the pond three times, exhibiting the same behavior on each occasion.

Finally, he climbed out of the cement pond.

Of course, we felt sorry for him. There was nothing we could do to help him. When warthogs have medical issues, the rangers don’t attend to them. There are many warthogs in Marloth Park and their healthy and sturdy constitutions preventing the park from providing medical care for them. After all, this is nature. They usually recover from most injuries and illnesses on their own. It’s a rare occasion that a carcass of a warthog is discovered in the bush.

He tried scratching on the pebbles, and big rocks in the garden.

If they have life-threatening injuries or illness, typically, they are found and euthanized and delivered to Lionspruit for Dezi and Fluffy’s next meal. Marloth Park residents are good at informing the rangers when such serious situations incur. But, an itchy butt is not necessarily a life-threatening situation. After we’d taken photos of his bloody behind, when he returned this morning, it looked so much better. We were relieved to see the improvement.

After all his efforts over a period of over an hour, his hind-end was red and bleeding.

It’s an amazing experience to watch wildlife all day and evening, learning their behavior, their nuances, and their special needs. Observing the behavior of wildlife is a rare opportunity and experience. Watching wildlife in zoos doesn’t provide such an opportunity. It’s only a feature of being in the wild among them, watching them and interacting with them, day after day. For this, we are humbled and grateful.

While all of this was going on, another warthog took a nap using a rock as a pillow.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, April 6, 2020:

Beautiful orchid we spotted in our travels from this post. For the year-ago post, please click here.

Back on top of the world…Memory of a terrifying morning, one year ago today…

It’s such a treat and a pleasure to enjoy a glass of red wine on the veranda at sundown.

While out-of-sorts yesterday after little sleep the prior night, somehow I managed to reset my phone to the factory settings, re-installing all of my favorite apps and restoring it in a manner to my liking. What a relief! Now, it’s working as it did when it was new. It’s a good feeling when all of our digital equipment is working properly.

Much to my disappointment, I noticed a spelling error on our site which mysteriously appeared after the most recent crash and restoration which I failed to notice. The word “Archive” in relation to our historic posts, is spelled “Archieve” an easy error to make when an India-Hindu/English-speaking company created and restored our site after the most recent crash several weeks ago.

I reported it to the web people and I imagine by the end of today, it will be corrected. Also, we lost the dates in front of each and every archived post which we had previously. This was extremely helpful for us, let alone our readers who may be going through each post from the beginning and would like to easily recall where they left off.

Last night, I managed to sleep almost eight hours. I wore my long-sleeve, winter PJs with long leggings keeping all my skin covered except my hands and feet. Before I went to bed, I slathered repellent on my hands and feet and around my neck and face.

We are thrilled to see so many animals drinking from the birdbath. It’s too close to the house to get birds, other than Frank but he and his family fulfill most of our birding aspirations right now.

In addition, late in the day, Tom sprayed the bedroom with Doom, leaving the door closed and the room unattended while the smell and chemicals dissipated sufficiently for us to eventually go to bed. I never got a single new bite overnight. Many of our readers have written with suggestions for my itching, which I thoroughly appreciate. But I’d already tried all of them already.

Plus, this isn’t a skin condition generated by my own body, such as dermatitis, eczema, or another such condition. It’s none of those. It’s bites of some sort. Thank you for all of your concerns and suggestions. Also, many other residents in Marloth Park are suffering from the exact same issue. It could be sand fleas, sandflies, chiggers, no-see-ums, or dust mites. It’s not mosquitos. Mosquito bites stop itching after four or five days. These bites continue to itch for weeks.

Anyway, a good night’s sleep has left me on top of the world today. Today is another cooler day. Right now it is only 77F, 25C. It’s very humid, but a far cry from what we’ve experienced over the past few months. The high today will be 81F, 22C, around noon, dropping from there. Wow! What a difference cooler weather makes in how we feel both mentally and physically.

On another note, It was one year ago today that we experienced that stressful morning when we were “kicked out” of the SunNSand Hotel in Mumbai, and sent to the Orchid Hotel where we were assured we had a reservation. Once we arrived at the Orchid, they had no idea who we were and were also closing the following morning.

Their amazing manager/concierge got to work on his phone and called one hotel after another looking for a safe place for us to stay. Without his help, the only option was for us to stay at a Covid-19 hotel packed with sick guests to stay while they recovered from the virus. There was no way we would have stayed in such a hotel.

Another enthusiastic drinker.

We wrote the following from that post:

“They had no record, whatsoever, of any reservation in our name, not for one night, let alone one month. Nor were they able to book us a room when they are closing tomorrow. Sun-n-Sand had pulled the wool over our eyes to get us out the door so they could close.

There we were hotels closing like dominoes falling, all over Mumbai along with owners of holiday homes not responding to our inquiries and literally nowhere for us to go. My heart was pounding in my chest. Tom kept reminding me to stay calm while we figured something out.

As much as the staff at The Orchid wanted to help us there was little they could do. The amazing hotel manager/concierge, Mr. Wesley Fernandes, immediately got to work trying with the utmost effort to find a solution for us.

I had visions of us standing outside the US Embassy in Mumbai with all of our baggage, pounding on the door trying to get help.”

Need a toothpick?

The heading of our post that day stated, “A morning from hell… OMG…OMG.” It was a terrifying morning when every hotel in the city of Mumbai was forced to close by the government, except for one… The Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai International Airport.

The kind man, Mr. Wesley Fernandes, arranged a taxi to take us to the Marriott. But even after we arrived, we were worried they, too, would close in a few days. It was months later that we could finally relax knowing they’d stay open during the 10 months we lived there in the lockdown. We will be eternally grateful they stayed open when at one point, there were only four rooms occupied by guests (including us) in the 330 room hotel.

Anytime in the future that we have an opportunity to stay at a Marriott Hotel we will, out of sheer loyalty to the fine company. Obviously, they lost huge sums of money staying open during the pandemic and hopefully will recover their losses in times to come, along with all the other business owners, and private parties, worldwide who have so dearly suffered during these challenging times.

And here we are, 70 days later, content to be in the bush and determined to stay until our next cruise after we’ve somehow managed to get a Covid-19 vaccine. Hopefully, we’ll be able to accomplish all of this in this upcoming year.

Stay safe. Stay healthy.

Photo from one year ago today, March 24, 2020:

Gorgeous leis of flowers offered for sale for religious offerings. For more, please click here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then, there were three.

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

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

They shared the pellets harmoniously.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was one year ago, the bad news sunk in…No regrets…

Oh, look! Mr. Young Kudu drinking water from our new birdbath. Tom refills it with fresh water every morning.

One year ago today, we wrote the following in this post::

“It was a bad sign this morning when we went to breakfast that there was no buffet. Only five rooms in this 120 room hotel are occupied and it made no sense for them to continue to offer a buffet. Besides, buffets are breeding grounds for germs. 

Is this the beginning stages of this hotel closing in the next several days?

The hotel is no longer allowed to accept new reservations. In a matter of days, we could be the only guests here. That’s kind of freaky. It won’t be the first time we were the only guests in a hotel.  On Christmas Eve and Christmas day in 2017, we were the only guests in a boutique hotel in Palermo, Buenos Aires, Argentina. We ended up having a great time after all. See this link here.
Mr. Young Kudu is standing on the veranda in front of me, looking woefully into my eyes, begging for pellets. We tossed out a big dose into the garden for him.

But, those circumstances were entirely different. It was a fluke there were no guests in the small hotel. In this case, as you all so well know, the circumstances are entirely different. Covid-19 is the cause of many businesses, now including hotels worldwide, closing their doors.”

Little did we know when we wrote this, that on March 24, 2020, a few days later, we’d be kicked out of this hotel to find ourselves with nowhere to stay in Mumbai, with literally all of our bags stranded with us without an available booking in any hotel in the huge city. In the next few days, we’ll reiterate some of the challenges we faced when no hotel was open to take us in. It was one of the most frightening moments in our then 7½ years of world travel.
Now, when we look back at that time, we are literally shocked by the challenges we faced. But, at the time, our only option was to return to the US. With cases rapidly escalating by the day, we decided we’d feel safer to stay in Mumbai, provided we could find a safe and suitable hotel which, fortunately, last minute, we did, with the help of a kind hotel concierge. More on that later.
Frank eats out of the seed container. There were so many warthogs in the garden I set this down for Frank. The warthogs love to eat the seeds, leaving none for Frank. This was a good solution at that point to ensure Frank and The Misses got their share.
As much and as often as that experience floods our minds since we arrived in South Africa on January 12, 2021, it hasn’t left us with negative thoughts and feelings. When we recall, even the worst day’s experience on March 24, 2020, after being “kicked out” of the SunNSand Hotel when they closed, without a reservation or other options available at the time, we are reminded of the strength, determination, and resiliency that got us through it all.
We have no regrets. Somehow we managed to protect ourselves from falling prey to Covid-19 and now we pray going forward, we can continue to do the same as we venture out of South Africa and head to Kenya for our upcoming required new visa stamps for South Africa, providing us with another blissful 90 days in Marloth Park.
Last night, we changed our plans to go to Jabula for dinner and will go tonight instead. We both feel it is important to support our favorite restaurant in Marloth Park by coming for dinner at least once a week. The prices are reasonable, the food is great and the love and interaction we have with owners Dawn and Leon, their fabulous assistant Lyn, and their staff members, make every visit enjoyable and worthwhile.
Siegfried and Roy stop by at least once a day. But another unknown warthog was hovering in the background.
It was when Louise and Danie invited us last night for sundowners that we decided to change our plans. With Linda and Ken not arriving until today, and unable to join us for dinner at Jabula, it was a perfect opportunity to accept Louise and Danie’s invitation to meet Danie’s son Niel, his wife Anja, and their adorable 8-month-old daughter, Klara. It was a fun and lovely evening.
Back home by 8:00 pm, I ended up speaking on the phone to my dear, almost 13-year-old grandson, Miles in Minnesota, and later, my sister Julie, in California. We laughed so hard we cried when sharing names and stories about the wildlife that visit us. She was thrilled to hear Little had found us once again. What amazing stories are unfolding before our eyes, each and every day, not only with the wildlife yet also the amazing human friends we’ve made in the bush.  We are truly blessed and grateful.
They’re back… Bennie, Hennie, and Lennie are now regular visitors. They shooed this kudu away when she was too close to their bounty.
May your day be lively and fulfilling.
Photo from one year ago today, March 21, 2020:
We sat comfortably at a table with an umbrella by the pool, sipping on a cold beer, attempting to make the best of the situation, wondering where we’d end up in a few days. Little did we know we may have been drinking our last drop of alcohol in the 10 months to come. For more, please click here.

Good news brings relief!…Newly named friends…What are QR codes?…

These three warthogs, we’ve named Bennie, Hennie and Lennie have started visiting us several times a day.

Note; It was one year ago today, that we headed to the airport in Mumbai, India, with airline tickets in hand, and we were turned away and refused entry to South Africa due to the border closings, never boarding the plane. It’s hard to believe that was one year ago.

Last night, the email message came through from iVisa informing us that our Kenya visas have been approved and processed. They are now in our inbox ready to print when we have to print many documents to bring with us to Kenya when we leave Marloth Park on April 8, 2021. We’ll enter Kenya on the 9ths and fly to the Maasai Mara on the 10th.

Everything we needed to prepare for the trip is done other than the printing. In a week or so, we’ll email Louise all the documents and she’ll print them all including a document from her that we’ll be renting for the next 90 days in Marloth Park. South Africa requires proof of a place to stay while in the country.

One odd thing we encountered during the visa acquisition process is that iVisa is that we received a QR code that looks like this, as indicated below.What is QR Code? Is it safe to scan QR codes | KasperskySince leaving the US in 2012 many companies, governments, and businesses started using a QR code, which is like a barcode that smartphones can read after installing a QR app on your phone or other devices. By scanning such a code (I don’t know what the above QR code reads. I downloaded this example online).

We’re assuming they are brothers from the same mother based on how well they get along.

While in the Marriott hotel during those long 10 months, while in Mumbai, India, they used such a QR code which, if we scanned the code using the QR code app on our phones, the hotel’s restaurant menu would come up, on our device. Earlier on, while touring India, our tour guide/driver’s car had complimentary WiFi. In order to access it, it was necessary to scan the QR code they had on a plastic-encased card kept in the car.

QR stands for “quick response.” For more details and the safety of using QR codes with your phone and device, see this article here. It clearly states the value and simplicity of using the QR codes.

Occasionally, they’ll rest separately, especially on hot, humid days.

Thus, when iVisa sent us a QR code stating in the email, that this code would bring up our already processed health questionnaire document as required by Kenya when we go through immigration upon entering the country. Apparently, iVisa filled out the form for us since we cannot open it by scanning it. When we go through immigration, Kenya will scan the QR code, review our health questionnaires and ask us if we have any Covid-10 symptoms, and provide proof of negative PCR tests which we’ll have done a few days before we depart.

So many new procedures are required to travel at this time, some seemingly worthwhile and others ridiculous and unnecessary. Only you can determine if traveling is worth all this “monkey business.” For us, we’ve decided, at this point, the answer is yes.

We still don’t know what we’ll do in July when the next 90 days end. We’ve decided to see how things go on the trip to Kenya after we return on April 14th. Also, we’re looking at where we can get the Covid-19 vaccine. It’s up in the air now if South Africa will allow foreign nationals to get the vaccine while in the country. We’ll see how that goes in the next few months.

When carefully observing these three warthogs, we’ve observed, they each have unique personalities.

For now, we can sit back and relax a little, while still maintaining safety protocols when out and about and around people, such as when shopping and dining out. Linda and Ken had planned to join us at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant for dinner tonight. However, based on the news they’ve read, traveling on the road from Johannesburg to Marloth Park is not safe today, due to a number of stoppages on the highway.

They plan to travel the five-hour drive tomorrow, if the situation improves, and then join us for dinner at our house on Monday evening as planned. However, in South Africa, everything can change on a dime, so we shall see how it goes. Tonight, we’ll have dinner at Jabula on our own, enjoying ourselves as we always do.

On occasion, only two will rest together. But, the three of them are always together from what we can determine. This is Hennie and Lennie.

Today, it’s a little cooler than past days, but it’s still very warm and humid. I started working out on the treadmill again today since the awful itching has been tempered and I am feeling better overall, especially after last night’s much-needed good sleep.

Yesterday there was no load shedding after the power was restored, but we did lose the WiFi signal for a few hours last night, preventing us from streaming our usual series. We stayed busy chatting and laughing and enjoying the quiet time together, as always.

This is Bennie and Hennie. They all seem to enjoy visiting us and hanging around the garden, long after we’ve stopped offering pellets.

May your day be filled with wonders. Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 20, 2020:

This hall at the temple site is used for weddings, arranged marriage meetings, relaxation, and prayer. For more photos, please click here.

Outstanding drive in the park…Excellent new photos…

I was unable to take the photo of this elephant from the car and thus, I got out, walked down a narrow, uneven path, and made my way to the fence.

We’ve yet to go into Kruger National Park. We’ve been busy with documents, bookings, and planning for our upcoming Kenya trip, leaving Marloth Park in 22 days. Our Kenya visa application has been kicked back to us a few times when they didn’t like the fact that our passports weren’t flat enough when we took the photos. It’s not easy to get a passport to lie completely flat. We had to redo that portion of the visa application twice already.

Hopefully, now that we haven’t heard from IVisa in a few days, everything must be in process. If all goes well, we should have the visas in our inbox within a week.

A herd of impalas sheltering in the shade with a few babies seated in the front.

Then, I was dealing with the awful side effects of the antibiotics I took needlessly when I didn’t actually have an abscessed tooth or any teeth problems after all. Then, the itching from the dust mites got so bad, I could barely sit in the car for hours focusing on anything but the itching. It’s amazing we had guests during those periods and even ventured out to dinner.

On top of it all, we had several occasions when our site wasn’t up and there was no way I’d feel comfortable going out for a full day until the issues were resolved. Collectively, there was little opportunity for a day to Kruger. Now, with the Maasai Mara upcoming in three weeks, we’ve decided we’ll wait until we return.

An impala family standing in the road, most likely parent(s) and auntie (s) protecting the baby.

Hopefully, if all goes well in getting our new 90 day-visa stamps, we’ll apply for our Wild Card entrance pass to Kruger National Park, good for one year. It pays for itself in three or four visits so even if we aren’t here for a full year, buying it is worthwhile.

With fewer animals coming to the garden this past week, most likely due to the heat, yesterday afternoon we decided to drive through Marloth Park to see if we’d find any new and exciting wildlife. We weren’t disappointed. We took enough good photos to last for days, hoping in the interim, more visitors will stop by. It’s almost 10:30 am and we’ve yet to see anyone, except for a young male kudu who just showed up as I wrote this.

We’ve yet to have a Big Daddy (two in this case) visit our garden due to the dense bush which makes it difficult for them to maneuver with their long curly horns.

Last night, while I was putting away my laptop for the night, after watching a few shows, I turned on the garden light to see Ms. Bossy standing there looking at the door, wondering where we were and if we had some pellets. Tom had set the alarm for the night so I gently shooed her away, with the wave of my arm to let her know standing there all night would do no good. Surely, she’ll be back sometime today or this evening.

Last night, as we lounged on the veranda while cooking a roast beef on the braai for dinner, Tiny wandered into the garden at exactly 4:34 pm (1634 hours) and stayed with us for over an hour. He ate a few leftover bones, we’d saved for him and a few tosses of pellets, after which he lay down to stare at me while I talked to him. He shows up about the same time each evening and on occasion, in the morning. (Now we have four kudus visiting. I spoke too soon).

Another Big Daddy is seen from inside the car through Tom’s window.

After dinner, I called my eldest son Richard to wish him a happy birthday. He was a St. Patrick’s Day baby and now is a mature, successful businessman with a fulfilling life. He’s one of the top real estate agents in Nevada and if you are looking to buy or sell a home in Las Vegas, Nevada, or surrounding areas, you won’t be disappointed if you contact him. Yes, I know, that’s a biased mom talking, but check out the reviews he gets at Zillow at this link. It was great talking to him as it always is when speaking to our family members.

While I waited at the fence between Marloth Park and Kruger National Park, he was facing away from him. I’d hoped we’d do better than a rear-end shot when finally, he turned around.

Although, many of our family members prefer to “chat” via email, text, Facebook, and other social media. That’s the way of the world these days. But, we are grateful to be traveling at this time in history, when communication is easy via the internet and it’s easy to stay in touch. Talking on the phone seems to be a luxury these days, which many will understand.

Finally, we got a full photo of this handsome elephant.

We are off to Komatipoort to grocery shop during the heat of the day. It’s pleasant to ride in the air-conditioned car during the 20-minute drive. The crowds while shopping, prompt us to take extreme care while in the market when many don’t properly wear their masks.

We hope you have a pleasant day!

Photo from one year ago today, March 18, 2020:

On the last night on the Maharajas Express, we were all assisted in dressing in traditional Indian attire. For more photos, please click here.

Back to our house…Dust mites may be gone, gone, gone…

The new stone birdbath in our garden as of this morning.

Several of our friends have reported they cannot find any available supplies of dust mite spray or treatment. Apparently, the entire country has been bombarded with dust mites and my recent situation is not unique. The heavy rains and humidity over the past few months most certainly contributed to the proliferation of these invisible pests, causing havoc for those with allergies and sensitivity to their presence.

Not only did Louise and Danie use the “bombs” to fumigate the house, but Vusi and Zef aired out the house to reduce the smell which was mostly gone by the time we returned yesterday around noon. While airing the house with all the doors and windows open, they did a deep spring cleaning. There wasn’t a speck of dust or insects to be found anywhere.

Last night, I slept better when I wasn’t itching as much all night, as I had on other nights. I still have the old itchy spots all over my body, but in time, they will heal and I should be able to sleep through the night. The itching has been going on for the past two months. It will be a welcome relief to be free of it.

Giraffe we started on the way to the little market in Marloth Park.

This morning, Zef and Vusu delivered a heavy stone birdbath fixture, as shown in the main photo, that Danie offered to us after he said it would look more appropriate in Greece than in the African bush. We agreed with him, but jumped at the chance to have this garden adornment in our garden, perhaps encouraging birds to stop for a drink, and thus, we can take photos of our feathered friends.

They placed the statue, or birdbath, within reach of the garden hose enabling us to add fresh water daily. No doubt, the animals that can reach the water, will stop regularly for a drink as well. The lower section would be adequate for the warthogs to drink, but Tom insisted we don’t put water in the lower section.

Warthogs, bless their hearts, are like “bulls-in-a-China-shop. (Hmm, that’s the second time I’ve used that expression in regard to warthogs in the past week). There is no doubt they’d knock the thing over if they started drinking out of it, regardless of how heavy it is. There are plenty of water holes and cement ponds in Marloth Park, where the warthogs drink and roll in the mud.

A rare visit from a shy duiker, the smallest of the antelopes in Marloth Park.

I thought about a birdbath when over the past several days, we’d seen Frank and the Misses, sipping water from the condensation drip hose on the outside of the house from the air conditioner in our bedroom. In the morning, after the air-con was on all night, a decent amount of water drips from that hose, and Frank and his Family enjoy drinking from it.. It makes us laugh out loud.

Francolins are territorial and seldom leave their chosen location, even to find water. Francolins don’t fly much, (they can fly) preferring to walk fast and run, run, run. Having this birdbath may inspire them to fly up for a drink. It will be fun to watch what happens. Oh, how easily we are entertained!

Tiny visits every afternoon between 4:00 PM (1600 hours) and 5:00 PM (1700 hours), never missing a day.

I’m sure many of our readers have birdbaths in their gardens and don’t give it much of a thought other occasionally observing birds partaking in the water. Ah, the simple things become profound and fascinating while living in the bush, such a glorious place filled with wonders.

Tonight, we’ll cook a well-seasoned beef roast on the braai and once again enjoy a delicious home-cooked meal.  Today, the high will be 92F, 33C with the usual high humidity. Although this temperature doesn’t sound that high, sitting outdoors on the veranda certainly leaves us hot and sweaty. But, over time, we’ve become more used to it, especially when there is a slight breeze.

Tiny often lays down while I talk to him and listens attentively, his ears flipping back and forth in the process.

May your day be sunny and bright!

Photo from one year ago today, March 17, 2020:

The main cremation site on the Ganges River, seen while on an old wood rowboat on the river during the early morning ceremonies. For more photos, please click here.