A rough and muddy outing brought some treasures to light…

 

We couldn’t have been more thrilled to see these giraffes while driving on the wet, muddy roads.

Thank goodness, we have power. Unfortunately, we don’t have WiFi. Apparently, a line went down due to the relentless pounding rain. Hopefully, it will be up sometime today. In the interim, Cyclone Eloise is still hovering and should be out of our area in the next day or two. We are bracing ourselves for more rain and power outages in the next 24 hours.

Giraffes are amazing animals. The giraffe is an African artiodactyl mammal, the tallest living terrestrial animal, and the largest ruminant. It is traditionally considered to be one species, giraffa camelopardalis, with nine subspecies.

Yesterday, we made the long, muddy, pot-hole ridden drive to the Crocodile River to see how high it had risen. I was only able to take a few photos since I was determined not to get my shoes and ankles muddy. I only have a few pairs of shoes and didn’t want to muddy them.

The feet and legs of the few animals that visited, were caked in thick mud. It was funny to watch the four bushbucks that stopped by trying to shake it off their feet. They, too, hadn’t seen such rain in quite a while.

They were congregated in one particular area, close to the parklands where they can roam freely without hitting their heads.

After the challenging drive on the uneven, muddy roads as Tom averted one outrageous pothole and sunken ravine after another,  we made our way out to Olifant Rd, the only paved road in Marloth Park. Out of meat in the freezer, a stop at The Bush Centre’s meat market was a must. Besides, I needed more cream for my coffee when my liter container spoiled in the refrigerator during multiple power outages.

A youngster with mom and dad hovering at a short distance.

It was concerning going into the two shops we visited when mask-wearing was either non-existent or worn below the nose. In South Africa, there’s a law to properly wear masks when outdoors in public areas and inside all enclosed shops and public spaces. Some shop workers were careless in this regard. I didn’t hesitate to ask those who didn’t comply to “please cover your face and your nose.” No doubt, I got a few dirty looks. I don’t care.

“It feels good to get off my legs for a while.”

Still, we haven’t gone to Komatipoort to grocery shop and to stop at the pharmacy. With the storms of the past several days, it made no sense. Today, Louise is heading there and will pick up a few items for us. With our more strict way of eating, our ingredients list has downsized considerably.

A mom and baby munching on leaves.

With the storm still brewing, we don’t expect to see much wildlife today. However, yesterday’s outing reaped some rewards when we spotted a number of giraffes along the way, shown in today’s photos. Hopefully, if the house’s WiFi isn’t back on by the time we’re ready to upload today’s post, I can get my phone’s hotspot to work well enough to accomplish this.

Looks like a magpie playing in rainwater near the area called, Two Trees.

Now, at almost 10:00 am Tuesday, the WiFi is back on for the first time in almost 24 hours, except for a few hours, here and there.  Last night, after dinner and the necessity of going indoors when the mozzies got bad, we couldn’t stream any shows or do anything online. As a result, we went to bed early and played installed games on our phones.

We could read books on our phones on Kindle, but after reading so many novels during the first few years of our travels, we lost interest in reading books, instead finding ourselves listening to podcasts, watching videos, and streaming TV series, movies, and documentaries. With no WiFi, we can’t do any of these. We both tried reading books on our Kindle apps, but neither of us could get into it.

Mr. Bushbuck’s muddy feet.

Now, much to our delight, as I continue to write, the house’s WiFi has returned. With both power and WiFi working, we’re practically giddy. I’ve already done two sessions on the treadmill this morning, and I’m now able to listen to some of my favorite podcasts to make the time pass more quickly.

Mud on young bushbuck’s horns.

Tonight’s dinner is planned for the gas braai with a few simple tasks required to put it all together. We were able to get two loads of laundry done last night and placed them on the portable clothesline to dry indoors.  Soon, Zef will arrive to clean the house, after which we’ll head to the hardware store to pick up a lighter for the citronella candles and insect repellent coils we use at night on the veranda. (No, Tom is still not smoking. Yeah!)

Several waterbucks, used to living on the Kruger National Park side of the Crocodile River, found themselves on the Marloth Park side, separated by the fence, preventing them from entering Marloth. The rangers are keeping an eye out for their safety and asking residents and visitors to stay away to avoid stressing the animals. They aren’t used to being near humans.

As always, here in Marloth Park, when weather conditions are tolerable, wildlife is visiting, power is restored and WiFi is working, we don’t need another thing. Of course, the coup d’etat will be when we are able to get together with some of our many human friends. Today is day #13 of self-imposed quarantine. One more day to go.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, January 26, 2020:

In Kauai, Hawaii, on this date in 2015, our friend Richard, who sadly has since passed away, sat behind the impressive magistrate’s desk, gave us a feeling as to how it would have been to visit his office in St. Louis, Missouri might have been, before he and wife Elaine moved to Kauai. For more, please from that post, click here. For the post from one year ago, as we approached time to leave the US, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

Final expenses for one year in India, including 10 months in the hotel in Mumbai…More fun photos…

The colors on the heads of Helmeted Guineafowls are bright and unseemly.
Yesterday afternoon, as promised, I got to work preparing the following numbers for our expenses incurred since we’d arrived in India on January 31, 2020, until we departed on January 11, 2021, a few weeks short of one year. Included, first, are the expenses for the train tour on the Maharajas Express, followed by the private tour we’d booked which began immediately after the one-week train tour of India. The second grouping is for the expenses while living in the hotel in Mumbai for 291 days.

Based on the fact we are now in South Africa, we included the money exchange into Rands (ZAR), from US dollars. If you are in another country and would like to see these numbers in your familiar currency, please click here for an easy link. This is simple to use but if you have any problems, feel free to ask us for assistance.

There are no less than three mating pairs of francolins in our garden.
Expenses  US Dollar  South African Rand (ZAR)
Maharajas Express Train Fare for 2                     11,996.00 177,694.35
Tips                          433.38 6,419.57
India Tour                      19,530.00 289,293.98
Dining Out                          115.43               1,709.84
Visa Fees – India for 2                         120.00 1,777.54
ATM fees                           24.30 359.95
Total                     32,219.11 477,255.23
Avg Daily Cost  53 days (6 nights train, tour, plus 4 nights hotel in Mumbai prior to lockdown)                           607.91 9,004.81

 

Expenses US Dollar

  South African Rand

Mumbai Hotel (10 months) inc. meals                       31,213.89 471,295.50
Tips                          1071.53 16,178.93
Supplies, pharmacy, toiletries & miscellaneous                          2515.06 37,963.31
Dining in restaurants     Included in hotel bill
Visa extension Fees – India for 2                           136.00 2,052.84
ATM fees                          18.25 275.47
Total                        34,954.73 527,175.31
Avg Daily Cost 291 nights                             120.15 1,812.06

Grand Total from above:                       67,173.84        1,012,797.96

Average Daily Cost 347 days                     193.51               2,917.60

We’re thrilled to have these numbers finally presented here. In actuality, it wasn’t that difficult to do since I had already recorded everything in our usual spreadsheet. All I had to do was convert the currency and figure out an easy to read format since numbers like this aren’t easy to format in a website such as ours.

Here are a few of our resident francolins, a mom, a dad, and two fast-growing chicks. In the past, we only had one mating pair at any given time.

As it turned out, we didn’t spend much more than we would have in a normal year of world travel with the exception of cruises. It’s those pricey cruises that always increase our annual expenses. We haven’t included our health insurance or insurance on our belongings which runs approximately another US $5300, ZAR 79,844.61 per year.

Also, we didn’t include purchases for clothing, digital equipment, our phone calling, and WiFi use (pay only for what we use on Google Fi plus US $17, ZAR 256.11, a month for the service). Also, we didn’t include annual fees for cloud services, website services, Ancestry.com, and various streaming services.

A young kudu male with lots of horns yet to grow.

Although we spend our days and nights on the veranda, when we go indoors for the night, we usually watch one streamed episode on my laptop, which we place atop a book on the bed. With no TV in the bedroom, we have no interest in sitting in front of the TV in the lounge room where it’s often very hot and “buggie” at night.

As most of you know, we only buy clothes when we’re in the US other than a few items we may desperately need from time to time. Right now, I have less clothing than I’ve had since we began traveling, but what I wear these days has become less of a concern for either of us over the years. As long as we have something clean and in reasonably good shape, we’re content.

A tentative young kudu looking over mom’s back, checking us out.

Thank goodness, here in Marloth Park, there’s no need for anything “dressy” and with the unlikelihood of cruising for the next year or two, we won’t even have to give our wardrobe a thought. We often wonder when cruising will be possible again and are surmising, that most likely, future cruises will require proof of vaccination.

With the slow pace of the prospect of vaccinations becoming available in South Africa, we may not be able to cruise for some time. It’s not looking promising. By the way, today is day #9 of our self-imposed quarantine with only 5 more days to go. As mentioned, we will have tremendous peace of mind when the 14 days have passed. We’re doing the Covid-19 quarantine countdown from the day we arrived in Marloth Park on January 13th, not the day we began the long journey on January 11th.

Of course, we will continue to exercise tremendous caution in wearing masks, social distancing, and handwashing until such time in the distant future that it’s not required to do so, whenever that may be, if ever. It’s hard to speculate.

Wildebeest Wille and Ms. Bossy Kudu getting along over pellets.

As soon as the vendor arrives with his truck at Louise and Danie’s office about five minutes from here, we’ll drive over to collect a 40 kg, 88 pounds, bag of sweet potatoes for the wildlife. Most of them love the small potatoes which the farmer gives away since they are too small for sale at the grocery stores. They are dirty and often attached to stems but the kudus, warthogs, and wildebeests love them. After all, they are used to grazing in the dirt anyway so this is normal for them.

That’s it for today, folks. It’s hard to believe we left India 11 days ago.

Stay safe and healthy!

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

One year ago, we posted this photo we’d taken in 2013 while on a road trip. Bourke’s Luck Potholes which was definitely our favorite photo of the day on our three-day tour of the Panorama Route and Blyde River Canyon. See the year-ago post here.

 

 

 

Cute little visitors, relentless in their pursuit…Wildlife friends on the road…Sounds of nature…

Cute banded mongoose using a tree stump to pose for a photo.

Finally, this afternoon I will get to work on compiling our final expenses from our 10-month hotel stay in Mumbai, India. I don’t know why I’ve been putting this off. The only reason I can think of is how preoccupied and happy I am taking photos in our garden which backs up to Lionspruit, a game reserve within a  game reserve/conservancy here in Marloth Park where the two lions Dezi and Fluffy, live along with other wildlife, some of which prove to be a food source for them.

Another great pose on a rock. Mongooses are very clever. They know how to appear adorable in order to beg for eggs.

Lionspruit is described as follows from this site:

“Lionspruit Game Reserve is a 1500ha (hectare) nature reserve, a home to the big five which offers a true bushveld experience to the guests and residents of Marloth Park. Marloth Park is a wildlife conservation area, bordering Kruger National Park. The main species of game within Lionspruit Game Reserve are white rhino, Impala, Kudu, Zebra, and other small antelope, various mammals, reptiles and birdlife but Buffalo, Rhino and Lion are confined within the Lionspruit Game Reserve while the other wildlife can roam freely between Marloth Park and Lionspruit Game Reserve.

Currently, the reserve accommodates only day visitors. Various rangers patrol the reserve to monitor the animals and guard the animals against poachers as well as to monitor vegetation. Picnic spots are available for all visitors, but they need to be alert because lions roam around the area.”

Coincidences...Hilarious video interaction...Harrowing visit to Lionspruit game reserve...Busy weekend ahead... - WorldWideWaftage
Map of Lionspruit located within the borders of Marloth Park.

Surely, one night soon, as we sit on the veranda we’ll hear their roars when they make their way close to the fence that separates our piece of heaven from theirs. We hope to make a recording of those amazing sounds.

If that doesn’t work, let’s enhance the pose. “Banded Mongoose (Mungos mungo) males are only heavier than females during the immature stages. In adulthood,  both sexes are similar in size and mass, weighing about 1.5 kg. This Mongoose is characterized by triangular-shaped, pointed faces and flat broad ears. They have long bushy tails and a long, coarse coat. Coloration is grayish-brown with an unmistakable series of light and dark vertical bands across the back and flanks. Underparts are lighter with elegant dark legs.”

The mongooses in today’s photos, make a chirping little sound, especially when they are anxious for some eggs. The sound of the endless stream of birds in the bush is heard throughout the day, particularly, the sound of the African Morning Dove, whose relentless trill permeates the air day and night.

Tom delivered them a pan of raw scrambled eggs. They piled atop one another to partake in the treat. “Invertebrates constitute the major portion of the diet, particularly beetles and termites. Will occasionally also take larger prey such as rodents and snakes. Refuge dumps are often scavenged for edible tidbits. Banded Mongooses also feed on the eggs of ground-nesting birds and reptiles. They clasp the eggs with their front paws and throw them behind them to try and break them.”

During our past visits to Marloth Park, we had several resident Francolins. Now, we have a mating pair, their two growing chicks, and two other mating pairs. Often during the day and at dusk and every night without fail, they all begin their crazy loud song/chirping, unlike anything we’ve ever heard in our old lives. I’m sure one night soon, we’ll make a sound clip/video of those sounds, the nightly reminder that darkness is about to fall.

“The Banded Mongoose litters average 2.6 young per female. Within a pack, litters are produced in synchrony after a gestation period of eight to nine weeks. Collective nursing of offspring takes place. Breeding is normally restricted to the rainy season, and during her lifetime, a female averages 1.4 litters per year. 2 – 8 young are born in mid-summer and are blind and partly-haired. The eyes open after about 10 days.”

It’s so easy to sit here all day, getting up four times a day to walk on the treadmill, prepare a meal, do an occasional load of laundry or deal with recharging our digital equipment. Zef and Vusi washed, dried, and folded all of the musty clothes we had in our luggage for months.

Now,  with everything neatly folded and hung up in our respective closet areas in the master bedroom, we’re in great shape. I am using the chest of drawers in the second bedroom with an en suite bathroom which I use for showering and dressing. We sleep in the master bedroom, but having a separate bathroom for each of us is a treat.

Mongooses are known to attack and kill snakes. “The mongoose is known for its ability to fight and kill venomous snakes, especially cobras. Their specialized acetylcholine receptors render them immune to venom.”

Finally, we have two showers with floors that aren’t dangerously slippery, making showering all the more pleasant each day. Typical for the bush, the shower water pressure is low, but we manage just fine. The hot water is ultra-hot, so we are careful, but especially appreciate it for washing dishes, although we have a dishwasher we also use.

Yes, load shedding is a pain, especially when there’s no power or WiFi. Yes, the heat and humidity are outrageous and uncomfortable most days. Yes, the necessity to constantly keep an eye out for snakes or venomous insects is challenging. Yes, applying and reapplying DEET-laden repellent several times a day is an annoying must-do. (We opted not to take malaria prophylactics for such an extended period).

When we ventured out for a drive, we spotted zebras on the only paved road in Marloth Park, Olifant Rd.

And yes, not knowing when and if the Covid-19 vaccine will be available in South Africa is a huge source of concern, wondering when and if we can relax a little and not worry about it. All of these concerns are a part of living in this country, living in Africa, living in the bush. But, amid all of this, we are content, fascinated, and in awe of our surroundings, It will be grand when and if we all can socialize and be more at ease with others.

Zebra traffic jam…

In the interim, we all must continue to be diligent, to be careful, and maintain hope for our future. Be well.

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

Staci and I by the entrance to the Red, White & Brew restaurant. The wine and food were excellent and the companionship was spectacular. Hopefully, we’ll meet up somewhere in the future. For more from that post, please click here.

 

 

Another stunning sighting…They come out at night…

At first, we were thrilled to see her climb up the table to eat the banana but later decided, we need to place the plate of bananas on the floor of the veranda.

I contemplated bringing back the daily feature “Sighting of the Day in the Bush’ as we’d done during the prior 18 months we lived in the bush during 2013, 2014, 2018, and 2019 Over the next week, we’ll keep an eye out for those special photo ops and if it makes sense, we’ll begin that feature once again.

Also, in 2013/2014, we featured “Small Things,” which, if we encounter sufficient small things now, we’ll add that feature on occasion with appropriate photos. Right now, we’re getting into the rhythm of finding those special photos to share each day. However, it feels as if, posting such special features is more difficult during the heat of the summer months.

The hottest of days, spent outdoors on the veranda, are sticky and uncomfortable seeming to put a damper on my creativity, although not my enthusiasm, to spend more time on my computer than usual. Right now, with the basic posts, managing and, downloading photos, editing, and fact-checking, occupies at least half of each day.

At first, we spotted her looking our way while clinging to a tree in our garden. “The Male Thick-Tailed Bushbabies regularly form sleeping groups with females and their young.”

The remainder of each day is spent taking photos, commiserating with the wildlife in our own way, responding to emails, comments, and messages, handling financial matters, cooking, and eventually, as we run low on groceries, venture out to shop in Komatipoort. We’ve been waiting to shop for the 14-day quarantine to pass. Right now, we have reached the first seven-days, with only seven more to go, since we arrived in Marloth Park. We began counting from the day we arrived, not the day we left India since any exposure we may have had, occurred during the 59 hour travel time.

It’s not as if we’ll spend any time in groups of people once our quarantine ends. We’ll only visit with our usual friends whom we know have been cautious, while we’ll still wear masks and social distance. I am tentative about heading to Komatipoort to shop for groceries on the 27th. But, we can’t expect Louise to do all of our grocery shopping.

Thick-tailed bushbabies are three times the size of the smaller bushbabies. We couldn’t believe how brazen she was. She had no fear of us. “The Thick-Tailed Bushbaby is a nocturnal primate with child-like cries, which gave cause for the English vernacular name. Probably due to its diet and larger body size, this is the most social of all known bushbabies.”

Unfortunately, we can’t buy too much at one time with the possibility of load shedding hovering over our heads, day after day. If the power goes out for too many hours, we could lose everything we purchased. There is much to consider when one lives in the bush. But, we’re doing well in figuring it all out, as we always do.

An area of concern, once we arrived here, was being able to get in enough walking to maintain my previous level of fitness achieved from walking in the corridors in Mumbai for the past 10 months. As much as I’d enjoy walking on the roads here in Marloth Park, I don’t feel comfortable.

After the two surgeries on my legs in 2019, as a result of infections after open-heart surgery, I am not quite as sure-footed as I used to be. Walking alone on the uneven dirt roads in the park could present a tripping issue for me. Besides, there are often leopards and lions on the loose and although I love the wildlife, I certainly wouldn’t want to encounter such a predator while on a walk.

After her adventures on the table, she climbed down to forage for more to supplement her diet with insects, fruit, and leaves.

The locals seem to have no qualms about walking on the roads during daylight hours since most predators roam at night. There is a 6:00 pm curfew here at night. But, I needed a back-up plan. With Louise‘s help on Facebook yesterday, she found a local homeowner with an excellent treadmill she wasn’t using, The rate was very fair at ZAR 1800, USD $121 for three months. We didn’t flinch to pay this amount, knowing how important it is for me to continue to walk.

This morning, our helpers delivered it and I’ve already completed my first session. My plan is to use the treadmill every two hours during the day, to keep me from sitting too long. After all the walking in India, you’d think a treadmill would be easy but, I definitely will have to work my way up to a decent speed, checking my pulse frequently. Of course, I will be careful.

We were excited to share today’s photos from Monday night when we had a rambunctious visit from the thick-tailed bushbaby that dwells in our garden. She came right up onto the table and ate a plateful of mashed bananas we’d put out in case any bushbabies came to visit. Then, when she pooped and peed all over the table, which we cleaned after she left, we decided, going forward, we’ll place the banana plate on the floor of the veranda, not on the table.

I wish we had a photo of the most hysterical thing she did while on the table. Using her funny little “hands” she picked up my wine glass and tried to take a sip. I immediately grabbed it out of her hands, all the while laughing. We wish we had a photo of that, but it’s not always possible to react quickly enough for animal antics.

Have a good day! Stay safe!

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

A two-year ago photo of an Egyptian Goose on the far shore of the Sunset Dam in Kruger National Park. For more on the year-ago post, as we prepared to leave the US to head to India, please click here.

 

 

 

 

We knew the risk, but it happened sooner than expected!…Terrifying visitor!..Exciting too!…

As I stepped out outside onto the veranda, this is what I encountered. Tom was sitting very close to this snake eating a frog and had no idea the snake was there.

When we wrote about the challenges of living in Africa, we mentioned three areas of concern; excessive heat, venomous insects (non-venomous don’t concern us), and snakes. Since arriving in South Africa last Wednesday afternoon, we’ve experienced the heat (over 100F, 38C, a few scary insects and yesterday, wouldn’t you know, a highly venomous snake within 1 foot, 30 cm from me, and 3 feet, 3 1 meter, from Tom.

This was quite an opportunity, to catch a snake in the process of eating a frog.

I spotted it first when opening the push-out screen door to return from inside the house to the veranda. I didn’t make a sound other than to alert Tom, who was very close as well. The first thing we noticed was that he had a frog halfway down his throat. That was quite a sight to see, resulting in today’s included photos. This wasn’t our first up-close and personal experience with a venomous snake, a Mozambique Spitting Cobra, while here in 2014. Click here for that post.

Our hands weren’t as steady as we’d have liked when we spotted this so close to us.

Gingerly, we both backed away, still keeping an eye on it. Of course, adding to the excitement was the fact he was eating the frog and his mouth was preoccupied. Perhaps, that fact was our protection. With his mouth full, he couldn’t bite us. Yikes!

We knew we needed to call Juan (pronounced John), the young master snake handler whom we knew from our past 15 months in Marloth Park in 2018-2019. His family owns Daisy’s Den, the local feed and supply store. We’d attended snake-handling school with Juan in 2018. From that class and more, he became the skilled handler and we became the knees-knocking neophytes. All we could think of was contacting him as soon as possible.

After swallowing his meal, he slithered up the chair where Tom had previously been sitting, drinking his coffee.

Our snake school experience in 2018 and the subsequent story we posted at that time, here, made us suspect it was a highly venomous Boomslang based on its bright green appearance. We took a photo and sent it to Louise knowing she’d respond quickly to our request for Juan to come out as soon as possible. Now, we have his business card in our possession at all times and his number on both of our phones so we can call him directly in the future.

Here’s a photo from our snake school experience at this link on March 12, 2018:

Chris, the instructor in March 2018, from this post here, was handling the highly venomous snake, the Boomslang. Males are green and females are brown. However, it’s nearly impossible to determine the sex of most other snakes when both genders are typically identical in appearance. “The Boomslang (Dispholidus typus) is an extremely dangerous, venomous snake species found in sub-Saharan Africa in the central and southern regions of the continent. The Boomslang is most abundant in Botswana, Swaziland, Namibia, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe, but the species has been reported as far north as southern Chad and Nigeria, and as far east as eastern Guinea. However, they are found here in South Africa as well.

Going forward, we’ll always keep at least one of our phones outside with us on the veranda at any given time, instead of charging in the house. Based on the fact the snake was hovering near the door to the house, it would have been impossible to get inside to get the phone without serious risk. He’d finally swallowed the frog whole and we could see it waiting to be digested in his body as a big bulge.

At one point, he crawled up the window but came back down to rest on the back of the chair.

(I am referring to the snake as a “he” when in fact, the male Boomslangs are green and the females are brown).

Louise immediately responded asking us that we take a photo which she’d forward it to Juan. In less than, two minutes, Louise informed us that Juan was on his way. It was the dreaded Boomslang, the third most venomous snake in Africa, the first being the Black Mamba, the second, the Puff adder, and the third, the Boomslang.

He preferred the chair over the window.

In a matter of minutes, Juan pulled into the driveway and headed directly to the back of the house to the veranda, where we still stood a distance keeping an eye on the snake to ensure it wouldn’t get away. Handlers never kill a snake.

Once he arrived, immediately confirming it was a Boomslang, he grabbed the snake several inches behind its head with the snake grabbers, and with his free hand, he grabbed the snake’s tail. He then placed it in a plastic container with air holes, and tightly positioned the lid to take the snake to an even more remote area than Marloth Park.

Mr. Boomslang was posing for the camera.

Juan’s service is complimentary, but like most, we insisted he accepts a generous tip for his professional efforts, so perfectly executed. In less than 10 minutes Juan was on his way with the snake firmly ensconced in the plastic bucket. Of course, we were a little startled by the presence of the snake, which reminded us to be all the more careful and observant going forward.

Juan is capturing the snake with his grabbers to later be relocated to another wildlife area.

A snake could lie in wait anywhere; on a wall, on the ceiling, on a railing or piece of furniture, under a bed, in a bed, or simply slivering across a floor. Nowhere in the house or in the garden is exempt from attracting a snake. Caution must be exercised at every turn, every moment, and upon entering a room.

Juan positioned it so we could take this photo before placing him in the plastic bucket.

Last night while on the veranda in the dark, we placed two rechargeable lanterns at different spots on the floor to ensure we could see all areas of the veranda. We are more mindful now than ever.

To contact Juan’s Reptile Rescue and Identification, call 060 665 5000 or email: debeer.juan@yahoo.com

“Our” visitor in a large plastic bucket ready to be relocated. Bye, snake.

This is Africa. This is to be expected here and when careful, it’s all a part of the adventure.  I must admit, we were excited to share this story and photos with all of you today!

Stay safe from whatever comes your way!

Photo from one year ago today, January 19, 2020:

On our way to the alpaca farm in New Plymouth, New Zealand on this date in 2016, we stopped at a few scenic overlooks in the rain. For the year-ago story, please click here.

 

 

 

It’s a wonderful life…

This is a thick-tailed bushbaby that visited us last night in the dark. It happened so quickly I had no time to set the camera for the nighttime view, but we were happy to see this special creature who usually makes an appearance at night.

If anyone owns a Chromebook you know how difficult it is to manipulate and edit photos. Oh, what I’d give to have my old Windows 8 laptop (we didn’t like Windows 10, either) with the ability to make folders on the desktop, to store and easily edit photos. To become proficient at these processes requires an entirely new learning curve. And, although I am a fairly quick study when it comes to digital equipment, my level of interest in learning this bulky process escapes me.

This male warthog is, by far, the largest warthog we have ever seen. This morning Tom named him, Tiny. He’s already become a regular.

At this point in time, I am only interested in savoring our surroundings, taking and sharing photos of our stunning discoveries, preparing our daily posts, and cooking a quick and easy meal on the gas grill (Tom does this part while I prep the food). With the wonderful help of Zef and Vusi, we don’t have to clean, make the bed, sweep, dust, clean bathrooms,  or even do laundry since they do it all.

Tiny is somewhat friendly, although a little scared since he’s only now getting to know us.

Right now, I have the washer going with one load of two I’ll do today to lessen the amount of wash they’ll be doing. Everything in our luggage, which we never unpacked in India, smells musty and must be washed. A few days ago, they did almost half of it. They fold so much better than I do, so it’s nice to hand it over.

Tiny posed for a photo.

It’s not as if we did much in those 10 months in the hotel, other than hand washing our clothing. Had we handed it over to the hotel to do, it would easily have cost us a fortune, as much as US $100, ZAR 1527, a week. Our clothing survived and we’re no worse for the wear (no pun intended).

It’s hard to resist the request for pellets from the bright-eyes kudus.

Speaking of “no worse for the wear,” when speaking with my friend Chere in Minnesota last night while Tom and I sat on the veranda, sipping an adult beverage and waiting for more wildlife, she suggested we write about how we feel about our India experience, what we learned in those 10 months and how we can use those lessons going forward. Great suggestions, Chere.

They venture right onto the veranda without hesitation but for safety reasons, we encourage them to back up. After all, these are huge wild animals.

However, at this point in time, having dwelled on the challenges of that long lockdown with our readers for months, we’re both ready to put it behind us, as we’re certain our readers prefer to do as well. The only thing we learned about ourselves (sorry, we aren’t more insightful) was that our level of determination to get back to our happy place far superseded our discomfort in that hotel room.

Wildebeest Willie is easily recognizable since he’s missing the tip of his right horn.

Now, we are pleased with ourselves for doing exactly what we wanted to do to ensure we’d get here, 59 hours of travel and all. No regrets. Not a one. For us, it just goes to prove if we want something bad enough, sheer will, determinations and careful planning can pave the way for us to achieve our goals.

Wildebeest Willie is so at home, he now naps here.

We aren’t heroes. We aren’t brave. There’s nothing special about us. We simply wanted something that was important to us and we were willing to wait for it. That’s what we learned. I suppose in a way, we knew this all along. After all, we gave up our familiar lives to fulfill a dream of a lifetime.

Is this my place at the table? What’s for dinner?

And now, here in Marloth Park, unencumbered with responsibility, other than to share our photos and stories with each of our worldwide readers on a daily basis, life is once again simple and uncomplicated. Of course, right now, we’re anxious for the 14-day self-quarantine to pass from those scary 59 hours with 9 days remaining of quarantine as of today.

Sharing among friends. There’s enough for everyone!

Once that ends, we’ll be even more excited to be here, of course, while continuing to exercise strict adherence to Covid-19 safety protocols.

A very exciting post will be upcoming tomorrow when we had a terrifying visit from a predator!  Please check back then and brace yourself, as we did!

Happy day!

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

Two years ago today, we visited Kruger National Park to see this elephant family crossing the road with a few babies protected by the parade. For more photos, please click here.

 

daya day assigned to a particular purpose or observanceMore (Definitions, Synonyms, Translation)

 

 

 

 

19 hour power outage due to electrical storm plus load shedding and no WiFi…The beat goes on…

Young male kudu reaching to grab some leaves off a tree.

As I began to prepare today’s post we’d been out of power for the past 19 hours starting at 4:30 pm Saturday. Last night, a storm came through and knocked out a transformer several kilometers from here. We have no WiFi after the inverter also quit working and subsequently no WiFi. The power finally came back on at  1:00 pm today.

Adorable female bushbuck.

I wrote most of today’s post off-line in an attempt to be ready to post shortly after the power returned,  Mostly, we were worried about the food in the refrigerator. This morning, Tom cooked the burgers we had planned for tonight’s dinner on the gas grill which we had for lunch instead of dinner. Louise suggested we put all the perishables in the freezer hoping they will survive until power was restored and it appears they did.

What a handsome face with young horns.

Are we upset about this? Not at all. This is the bush in Africa, not Palm Beach, and one must expect these situations to occur on a fairly consistent basis. In any case, this is a whole lot better than sitting in a hotel room in Mumbai, India. Right now, we’re situated on the veranda, enjoying various visitors, as well as Mr. & Mrs. Hornbill building their nest in a bushbaby house that they’ve taken over.

Kudus often visit in a family and/or social group, referred to as forkl

It’s cooler today after the rains, although still very humid, typical for the bush. But, we’re fine. It’s nice to see the bush is a little greener this morning after the downpour, creating more food for the wildlife. After all, it’s summer here now. January is equivalent to July in the Northern Hemisphere, so we have months to go until it cools down.

They certainly know how to grab at our hearts with their adorable faces and big eyes.

In the interim, we’re both handling the heat as well as we can, which is often as high as 108F, 42C, during daylight hours and dropping only slightly at night. After spending 10 months in air-conditioned comfort in that hotel room, it’s taken us a few days to adapt to the temperature differences. But, now, we’re good.

This male kudu was so bold he came up onto the veranda.

There is air conditioning in the two bedrooms here, none elsewhere in the house. Due to frequent power issues and the expense of running air-con, few, if any Marloth Park residents have or use full house air-con which is common in the US. Whether it’s power outages, load shedding, snakes, scary-looking insects, flies, ants, and bees, we’re prepared to handle it all.

Scratch that itch!

Certainly, being here wouldn’t be ideal for some nor may this lifestyle fulfill their objectives for holiday/vacation time. For us, it’s a way of life that is totally befitting our desires and interests. We thrive in this environment. Will we be able to do this as we age, making our way into our 80’s or more (God willing)? The answer to that will be entirely predicated by how well we care for our health, a goal we strive to achieve each and every day of our lives.

We took all of these photos at different times throughout a single day.

For now, we are grasping at every morsel Mother Nature tosses our way, whether it is Wildebeest Willie, who was here all morning and rested for hours in the bush near us, his big tail swishing every few minutes to bat off the flies, or a flower blooming among the thorns of the sickle bush trees, it all matters to us.

Now, totally off two blood pressure medications as of the past month, checking it today, as I do every so often, I was reassured by my state of relaxation and low stress, at a measly 114/60. Peace, pleasure, and purpose can bring each of us a state of being that is not only good for our health but also, our state of mind and spirit.

Kudus are determined to get what they want and will literally stare us down until we comply.

And our purpose? What is that? Are we doing this entirely for our own personal pleasure? Believe me, spending over half of each day writing and taking photos to share with all of you gives us tremendous purpose when hundreds, if not thousands, of readers worldwide, write to us explaining how the minutiae of our day-to-day lives somehow give them a moment to pause and enjoy nature, culture, people, and more, right along with us.

We never tire of spending time with kudus, from the antelope family. They don’t have antlers. Instead, they have horns which they do not shed.

Yes, selfishly, we revel in your kind comments as a wave of warmth passes over us each time we read such an expression. But we’ve found that, in some small way, we may contribute to a moment of joy for others as they “traveling along with us.” So today, we thank you for your kindness and support as we extend our love and caring for all of you.

Without all of you, we may never have lasted this long, over 8 years, on this seemingly never-ending journey which we blissfully continue here in Africa, once again. It calls to us. It calls to many of you. It’s grand to be “home.”

Be well.

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

Two years ago today, Ken set up the camera on a timer to take this photo of all 10 of us as we celebrated Rita’s birthday at our place.! Fantastic! For more about the year-ago post, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

Photos working now…Such a stressful situation…Figured out the issue…By the skin of our teeth…

Mom and babies…

There are no captions on some of the photos today and in the past few posts due to WiFi issues.

Saturday morning and load shedding just started at 9:00 am for the next 2½ hours. Much to our delight, yesterday, electrician Moses came and rigged a means for us to have WiFi during power outages. That way, we can distract ourselves during the few hours without power. I’m thrilled to see it’s working this morning. Plus, I am over-the-moon happy that I figured out that photos from my phone won’t show in our posts but will easily upload from my camera

Until I figure out how to rename the older photos I took using my phone when we first arrived, I will be using only the camera for all photos. Hopefully, we’ll never encounter this issue again. I can’t tell you how many readers contacted us about this issue and I’d tried to respond one by one. Unfortunately, with so many, I won’t be able to respond to each one. Please know we thank each and every one of you for writing to us.

As for the posts from January 13th and 14th, I will work with our web people, to get those photos to upload on the prior posts. If it’s not possible, we’ll have to resign ourselves that they are lost forever and new photos will replace them in the many months to come. Goodness, with the abundant wildlife before us, there is certainly plenty of time and wildlife to fill in the blanks.

Baby poses by big rock.

Well, we’re still reeling and happy to be here, but according to yesterday’s news, we arrived by the “skin of our teeth.” Emirates Airlines has suspended all flights to and from South Africa, See the news story here. Also, with three days having passed since our arrival, we remain hopeful we won’t experience any symptoms of Covid-19.

Band of mongoose…

There was one situation during the 59 hour travel period that worried us. We were waiting for at least 20 minutes in the tube when the doors to the plane had yet to open. Hundreds of passengers were crowded into the small space, many with their masks below their noses, talking loudly, coughing and sneezes. This is the airline’s fault. They should have been more stringent in boarding passengers.

Wildebeest Willie came to call…

Also, during boarding and de-boarding, no social distance guidelines were followed, on any of the flights. Mask wearing on the flights was also sketchy when passengers justified removing their masks in anticipation of food and drinks being served. It was a scary 59 hours.

Mongoose trying to crack an egg we offered.

Now, safe in our wonderful bush house, we are feeling hopeful the remaining 11 days of self-quarantine will pass quickly and we can relax from there while continuing to exercise the utmost caution when out and about or with friends in Marloth Park. Jabula and a few other restaurants have adequate social distancing outdoor seating which we’ll visit in the weeks to come.

Soon, once we’ll upload today’s post, we’ll head to Daisys’ Den for birdseed for our numerous visitors. There are about six mating pairs of francolins, Frank & The Misses, nesting hornbills in a bushbaby house at the edge of the veranda, and many noisy and fun-to-watch other bird species. We try to avoid feeding the helmeted guinea fowls since they are pesky, relentless, and can be bothersome.

Tonight, we’ll make bun-less burgers on the grill with “butt” bacon, topped with fresh cheddar cheese and topped with a fried egg, alongside more of the delicious cheesy sausage known as boerewors, here in South Africa.

I have yet to figure out a walking strategy. I posted a request to rent a treadmill or stationary bike from anyone who may be interested in Marloth Park. I’ve had one response so far for a bike, but I do prefer a treadmill. We’ll see how that rolls out over the next several days.

Ah, folks, now that we know the new photos will work, we have peace of mind and are beginning to relax. Yes, it’s very hot and humid outdoors today where we’ll spend the bulk of our day. There’s plenty of flies, insects and for all we know, venomous snakes nearby.

The only air-con in the house is in the two bedrooms, only available when load shedding is done. If it becomes unbearable, we can always opt for a short nap during which we’ll turn on the air-con and cool down, shortly later returning to the veranda. It’s too hot for me to walk on the roads. It should cool down in a few months.

May you have a safe and pleasant day. We’ll be back with more tomorrow and also with photos you can see!

Photo from one year ago today, January 16, 2020:

Three years ago today, this scene at La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires particularly caught our eye. For the year-ago post, please click here.

 

Resolving the issue with photos but power is out now…

Cute little warthog resting in the lucerne.

At the moment, “load shedding” is happening and I can’t use my laptop. For some reason, I can’t get my phone’s data to tether to my laptop. I can’t worry about that now Eskom, the power company shuts off power to specific areas at certain times to reserve power resources, an average of twice a day, usually for two to three hours.

Last night the power was out between 1:00 am and  3:30 am. Danie rigged up an inverter for us so we could use two fans to keep cool. Although we awoke when the power went off the two fans served us well. It’s very hot at night in this area. Sleeping is nearly impossible without at least a fan.

Mom and two babies enjoying some pellets.

\We experienced load shedding during our past visits to Marloth Park. We can live with this. It’s a reality of life in the bush, a small inconvenience in the realm of things.

As for the issues with photos not showing in the posts, I believe I have resolved it with a suggestion from our web people. It was entirely my doing. After today, I will replace all of the posted photos with the correct extensions and the photos will appear at these links:

January 14, 2021 link here.

January 13, 2021 link here.

I was uploading photos from my phone without changing the extension as a JPEG. I don’t know how I missed this!

My camera isn’t taking good photos due to humidity issues. We will figure out all of this to ensure we can capture decent shots to upload. It may take a few days, but rest assured, I am working on all of this

Soon, Moses, Louise, and Danie’s electrician will arrive to set up the inverter to work with the router. Once done, we’ll be able to be online during the outages. This will help greatly, especially since I do the posts in the mornings in order to free up my afternoons for other tasks, photo ops, and sightseeing.

It’s been so long since we’ve taken photos we are a little rusty. By no means an expert photographer, it’s always a work in progress.

Two visiting girls.

The wildlife continues to visit with two new species today. We look forward to sharing our photos in the months to come. Due to the fact I will be removing and replacing all the photos from the past few days, I may not do the India expenses today after all. The temps are in the 90F, 38C, range and it’s just too hot to think about numbers.

Thanks for your patience with our photo issues. Hopefully, now it will be resolved.

Have a pleasant day!

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

Three years ago, Tom and I sat in the hotel bar in Palermo, Buenos Aires watched the Minnesota Vikings playoff game. We were the only patrons in the bar, but had a wonderful evening together. For more, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

Hello, my Africa…It’s good to be back where we belong…

Today’s photos were taken at dusk resulting in less clear images. We work on improving our photos going forward!

What can I say? How we feel is beyond description. At the moment, we’re seated at the big wooden table on the ground level veranda with nary a railing, overlooking the bush parklands, rife with wildlife. No sooner than we opened the screened (yeah!) sliding door, they were here, albeit tentatively, wondering who we are and what we may have in store for them.

We served up treats from a 40 kg, 88-pound bag of pellets already opened last night for the stream of visitors that arrived only moments after we did. Sitting by the fabulous braai, a South African fire pit, we gasped in awe of the treasures our eyes beheld, one species after another, including seven giraffes at our driveway, several kudus, warthogs, guinea fowl, bushbucks, and more.

Then, this morning, they all returned, perhaps others than those from last night, anxious to see who will be their new neighbors. Besides, this is their land, not ours and in reality, we are the visitors, not them. Ah, the number of times, we’ve said in our posts, “Pinch me, is this real?”

And now, I say this again, with as much, if not more enthusiasm than ever. At times, I wondered if the excitement would be as profound as it was in the prior 18 months we spent in Marloth Park over the past eight-plus years. But, if anything, it was more.

The 10 months in the hotel room in India catapulted us to a new level of appreciation and gratitude, one we thought we could never achieve, after all the exquisite experiences since the onset of our travels in 2012. But, here we are now, reeling with pure joy to be back where we belong.

The familiarity we felt as we drove from Nelspruit after our three full days of travel, was comforting. As we began the long final drive toward Gate 2 in Marloth Park, around 3:00 pm yesterday, where the guards at the gate gave us a one month pass to hang on the rearview mirror with offers for more in months to come. We knew we were “home.”

We drove to Louise and Danie’s beautiful Information Center to be greeted with the enthusiasm we so cherish, with them as such great friends for the past seven years, during which we always stayed in close touch when we were away. We sat at their gorgeous bar, commiserating for a few hours until finally, it was time to come to our new home.

We knew the house was small, a single story with two bedrooms, two en-suite bathrooms, a spacious lounge/living room, a dining room with a  fantastic table and upholstered chairs, and a good-sized modern kitchen with a countertop with bar stools, well-equipped with everything we’ll need.

Louise grocery shopped for us, putting everything away as we would have. She knows us so well after all these years. Soon, we’ll prepare our first meal, steak on the braai. Is it any wonder, we’ll be eating beef for the next several days? We weren’t hungry for breakfast this morning and last night, we didn’t bother with dinner. Instead, we had a small plate of good cheeses to share, along with water and iced tea.

We definitely had good luck during the three travel days, which included the following details Tom compiled this morning::

“Three flights; the first from Mumbai, to Dubai, 2 hours 45 minutes with a 16-hour layover. A second flight from Dubai, to Johannesburg an 8 hour 45-minute flight with a 26-hour layover. The third flight from Johannesburg, to Nelspruit (Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport), 45 minutes.
Then, the rental car drive, from Nelspruit to Marloth Park, 1 hour 30 mins.
3 flights       12 hours 15 minutes
2 layovers   42 hours
1 drive           1 hour 30 minutes
Total travel time from door to door was 59 hours, which included hotel departures, shuttles, waiting at airports, and spending time working on three months of car rentals at the Budget counter in Nelspruit.
If anyone would have asked me a few years ago if we’d be open to 59 hours of travel time to anywhere, we would have said it was too challenging, even for “sturdy us.” But, as we all know, motivation and purpose are powerful drivers and we’re grateful we stuck to our commitment to return to South Africa, instead of “giving up” and returning to the US at this time.
And here we are, sitting together, in touch with each other’s needs, wants, and joys, as always. Nothing, after those 10 trying months has diminished the strength of our love and commitment to one another. We’re still “stuck like glue.”
Again, thanks to everyone for the endless stream of good wishes. There will never be enough time to reply to each and every one of you, but please know we appreciate every single one of you.
Stay safe. Be well. Be happy.
Photo from one year ago today, January 14, 2020:
This hornbill from a photo taken in 2019, decided to look at her reflection in the glass of the little red car, assuming it was another Hornbill, perhaps a possible mate. For more from the year-ago post, please click here.