Here again, perfection is not possible…

  • It was good to see Broken Horn this morning after he’d had a busy weekend.

Today’s post is #3445. It’s hard for me to grasp how many posts we’ve done over the almost ten years we had been posting, beginning on March 15, 2012. I’m sure I’ll mention this ten-year mark again on the anniversary date. We sure are into anniversaries, most good, some not so good.

As I look back at some of our old posts each day, I see that many have lost the corrections I made after working on them for over a year. I can think of why this happens because our site is so large with this many posts and stuff happening.

When I encounter old posts with errors, I correct them. But, I have no interest in starting to do corrections all over again. So be it. It’s the nature of the beasts, and due to my commitment to attempt perfection, I am OK with this decision. Also, as political correctness has changed in the past ten years, I may have said something that I’d be more mindful of saying today in an attempt to avoid offending any group, individual, culture, or religion.

Tom reads what I’ve written moments after uploading a new post each day. He searched for typos I missed and any comments that could potentially offend anyone. Although not an expert in spelling and grammar, he is excellent in this capacity, and without his diligence, we’d have many more errors than we do.

The app he uses to pick up errors is different than mine and thus, he often finds five or six other misspelled words or typos. It would be easy for a person to be somewhat defensive under these circumstances of being corrected every day. But, long ago, I decided not to become defensive when he pointed out the errors. I allow him to nitpick.

He has quite a memory for dates where I remember places, people, and things. As he discovers each issue, I promptly make the corrections. After his app picks up errors, he then reads the entire post and photo captions, searching for any statements I may have made that might not be correct or may be inappropriate. Combined, we strive to be complete and accurate.

As for our dull and mundane days and nights…that’s another aspect of “the nature of the beast.” This is particularly the case during the past two years of the pandemic when we haven’t been able to be as mobile as we’d have preferred. There’s no way we would have spent an additional ten months in India, nor was our intention to spend over a year in South Africa this time around.

Vusi and Zef just washed the rental car inside and out. We prefer to give them the money for the cost of a carwash rather than pay the local carwash at the little shopping center. Soon, Tom will leave for Nelspruit to return the car. We are returning it one day late.

The car rental company called on my phone this morning inquiring as to when we’d be returning the car. I explained that we tried to phone the rental car company to inform them that the car would be delivered one day late, but there was no cell service over the weekend, nor was I able to get a connection on Skype. That happens sometimes.

After all, TIA (“This is Africa”) and services don’t always work as one would hope or expect. Tom should be back by three to four hours after he leaves, depending on traffic both ways. With many trucks on the highway and road construction that’s been going on for years, it’s difficult to predict when he’ll return. Plus, it takes a while at the Budget counter at the airport to process the two-month rental we need.

I stay working on dinner, my walking, and a few projects around the house, and we’ll be back with you tomorrow. Of course, I’ll be spending plenty of time checking out who’s in the garden and may need some pellets and attention. Otherwise, this will be a quiet day.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 24, 2021:*

*With no power and WiFi one year ago, we’ve included this photo from this date in 2013 while we were onboard the Celebrity Equinox, having a fantastic time!

Pastry Chef Xavier and Jess. He was determined to make me a special dessert. We shared “foodie” tidbits! And, he did so to perfection—what a wonderful experience. Gee, I wish I still had that dress and wrap. For more photos, please click here.

Today is the day our current visas expire…Ordering health insurance…A convenient free online shared calendar app…

This is Bossy, who is pregnant and contemplating a drink from the swimming pool. There are only small amounts of chlorine in pools here to prevent the wildlife from illness.

All we can do about our visas expiring today is wait until we hear from South Africa immigration that our visas have been extended. In the interim, we’ve decided not to worry. We filed for the extensions within the time frame they require, so we should be fine.

Tomorrow, coinciding with our visa expirations, our rental car is due to be returned by 3:00 pm, 1500 hrs. Tom will drive to Nelspruit without me. I don’t particularly appreciate driving through the gorge halfway through the trip. Tom has no problem going on his own, and I can easily busy myself while he’s gone for three-plus hours in the afternoon.

We’ve arranged for him to pick up another car at a different dealer. We had to do a lot of research to find another affordable rental car. Since the onset of the pandemic, rental car prices have gone through the roof. Every 90 days, when we need a different contract, we struggle to find cars at reasonable prices, even here in South Africa, where prices had previously been affordable when we arrived in 2018.

Her pregnant status is easy to determine from these photos. It will be fun to see her bring her little one to visit us in the future. The gestation period for a kudu is about 240 days.

Staying in any location for extended periods always presents some challenges. Not having a home, our own car, and the insurance that goes with such ownership, on top of the problems due to finding and securing good health insurance. Today, I’ll be renewing my policy with SafeTrip from United Health Care.

With Tom’s excellent health, we aren’t insuring him right now. Once we’re on the move again, especially when some cruises require proof of health insurance which includes emergency evacuation, which makes sense to have when cruising as seniors, we’ll both be insured.

The policy has a limit of US $50,000 due to my age. I purchased the policy today for me beginning tomorrow, ending on April 8, the day we sail away. A few days before the cruise, I’ll sign up both Tom and me for a new 90-day policy. I always post a notice on our combined Cozi Calendar, a free family calendar app available online to keep track of the expiration dates.

Bossy with a few impalas in the background vying for pellets.

If you’re interested in an easy-to-use, conveniently shared calendar for travel or day-to-day appointments, this app is ideal easier to use than those offered by other providers. Here’s the link for the free app. You can choose to pay a fee for a slightly more sophisticated version, but we’ve never needed to do so.

When I awoke at 5:30, I stayed in bed reading news until finally, at 7:00, I bolted out of bed, ready to tackle the day. I decided to make dinner with the leftover ingredients from Friday night’s dinner party. There was a good-sized ziplock bag of cut-up chicken breasts which I’d frozen on Friday.

Last night, after returning from dinner at Jabula with friends, I took the bag of the cubed-cooked chicken out of the freezer and put it into the refrigerator to find it fully defrosted this morning. With that and many leftover vegetables, I had enough ingredients to make three more low-carb pot pies. Tom will have one tonight and another tomorrow, while I’ll eat one tonight and have something different tomorrow, maybe tuna salad atop a big green salad that suits me just fine.

Impalas are quite shy around humans and scurry if we make the slightest sound or movement while they visit.

As for today, a lovely coolish day with tolerable humidity, I did three loads of laundry after prepping the meals and putting away all of the dry laundry on the rack. To increase my steps, I fold one item at a time and walk it to where the item belongs, Tom’s closet in our bedroom, my chest of drawers in the second bedroom, or towels in the kitchen. It’s amazing how many steps I can get in doing laundry this way. I make a point of walking with vigor to increase my heart rate.

That’s it for today, folks. We hope you have a delightful Sunday and a new week to come.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 23, 2021:

Love Bird's Nest
View of the veranda and pool at our house in the bush. For more, please click here.

Lovely evening on the veranda with great friends, good food and Mother Nature…

It was 4:00 am when our regular genet appeared in the garden sitting atop of a rock observing these two female bushbucks.

The weather was ideal, the guests were cheerful and enthused to be at our bush home, and the food, wine, and conversation flowed with ease. Rita, Gerhard, Rita’s sister Petra and brother-in-law Fritz joined us at the table on the veranda for snacks with beverages at sundowner time, beginning at 4:30 pm, 1630 hrs, followed by dinner a few hours later.

All of us stuffed from dinner. After the main course, we waited for about an hour to serve dessert, the chocolate cake I’d made in the morning, with photos in yesterday’s post found here. The low-carb cake was delicious and another treat we appreciated after it was only recently that I’d baked a few cakes, having missed desserts for quite some time.

We turned on the music between dinner and dessert using our JBL Essential Bluetooth speaker, which sounds almost as good as any major sound system. We sent my phone around the table for each of us to say, “Hey Google, play _ _ _ _ _, on YouTube.”

Young kudu male stops by, standing on the veranda to get our attention. We tossed pellets out into the garden to avoid getting too close to those growing horns.

We’d each speak our favorite song on the phone, and it was fun to hear what each of us chose. There certainly was a wide array of music, in part cultural, with our four guests from Germany (although Rita and Gerhard have lived in the US for over 30 years). Tom and I each chose oldies, his more geared toward rock and roll and mine, from the disco period in the late 70s and early 80s. It was great fun.

At one point, Rita and Petra danced to a favorite song from their OctoberFest days. It was delightful to see their favorite cultural dance. Ironically, in yesterday’s post, I’d mentioned cultural dances we’ve observed and enjoyed worldwide over the years and most assuredly enjoy in years to come, health providing, and we’re able to continue.

This warthog stopped by who’d recently had an injury to his left wart. It could have happened in several incidents with other animals.

As always, after dinner, Tom insisted on handling all the dishes, requiring that he load and empty the dishes twice and wash a variety of pots and pans. It helped that we’d all carried the plates and dishes indoors, but, still, he had his hands full for a few hours after our guest left, slightly before 10:00 pm, 2200 hrs.

On and off, throughout the evening, we were entertained by many of our favorite wildlife visitors who weren’t put off at all by our loud banter and not too loud music. We are far from any other houses at our current location and are never concerned we’re disturbing neighbors.

Tom just finished his leftovers while I am munching on the leftover salad and vegetables, cooked green beans, and sugar snap peas. We’d made individual low-carb pot pies and had saved the thick lids used to cover the tin foil pans. After dinner, we passed around the lids and a pen so everyone could write their name on their corresponding leftovers and take them home for today’s lunch.

We just missed a good photo of this monitor lizard.

We won’t eat again until dinner tonight at Jabula, where the six of us will meet up for dinner, which will undoubtedly be another fun evening. We enjoy our busy social life, which will continue after Petra and Fritz return to Germany. Several other friends will be arriving in Marloth Park in the next few weeks, and the social activities will ramp up from here.

We’re pleased to share another sighting of our usual genet from our trail cam, as shown in the main photo. What a joy it has been to see our favorite nocturnal animals these past many weeks, as well as the frequent daytime visitors that continue to entertain and amaze us.

May you have a pleasant day, evening, and weekend.

Photo from one year ago today, January 22, 2021:

There are no less than three mating pairs of francolins in our garden. In a short time after our arrival to Marloth Park, we named this francolin Frank, along with his partner, The Misses. For more, please click here.

More photos from Kruger National Park…Another fun night at Jabula!…Great seasoning recipe…

This is a side-striped jackal, another less frequent sighting we were delighted to encounter. The side-striped jackal is a canine native to central and southern Africa. Unlike the smaller and related black-backed jackal, which dwells in open plains, the side-striped jackal primarily dwells in woodland and scrub areas.

One year ago today, the third day since our arrival in the bush in South Africa, we had no power for 19 hours and no WiFi. We are enjoying today without any outages, a strong WiFi signal, and a slightly cooler yet humid day. Often, this time of year, the temperature may only be in the 80Fs, 27Cs, but the humidity can be outrageously high, making us sweat until the sun goes down.

The kori bustard is a ground-dweller, hence the name bustard, meaning birds that walk. They have a majestic walk with measured strides. They prefer to walk away from danger and fly only when necessary because of their weight. They take off with hefty wing beats, but they fly quickly and strongly once airborne.

Nonetheless, it’s a good day. I’ve already prepped all the vegetables and ingredients for tonight’s taco salad dinner and only have to prepare the lettuce and cook the mince (hamburger meat) as soon as it defrosts enough to fit in the pan. I made the taco seasoning from scratch early this morning, using the ingredients listed below.

Those little packets of taco seasoning contain many chemicals and wheat, none of which we care to eat. Here is a simple recipe that takes only a few minutes to put together.

Marabou storks I first encountered at the old dump in Marloth Park in 2014. The marabou stork is a large wading bird in the stork family Ciconiidae. It breeds in both wet and arid habitats in Africa south of the Sahara, often near human habitation, especially landfill sites.
Low Carb Taco Seasoning
Ingredients
4 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoon cumin
4 teaspoons paprika
4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoon dried onion or onion powder
2 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
Add all the spices to a mason jar or large zip-seal bag. Close and shake or stir until fully combined. Store in an air-tight container in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year.
Notes
Use 2 tablespoons for every packet of taco seasoning called for in a recipe or for every pound of meat with no additional salt added. Use 1/2 tablespoon to season 1/4 pound of meat if making individual servings. The individual serving size is about 1/2 tablespoon.

Nutrition
Serving: 8serving (1/2 tbsp) | Calories: 15kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 616mg | Potassium: 78mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 849IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 19mg | Iron: 1mg

Table setting at the boma in Kruger National Park. There we just the eight of us as guests, with several staff members serving and assisting.

This is so easy to make. This morning,  I added sliced olives, diced onions, grape tomatoes cut in half, and chopped lettuce in individual containers. I’ll soon cook the meat until no blood remains, draining it in a strainer, placing it back into the pan, adding seasonings as stated above, based on how much meat I am cooking.

Our plates of meat were delicious.

Then, I add about one cup of water for about 4 pounds, 2.2 kg of meat. Let the meat simmer until most of the water is absorbed, usually about 20 minutes. While the meat is simmering, I cut up one small avocado to serve atop my salad. Serve right away, layering your salad as you’d like. I add a dollop of sour cream to my salad, but Tom doesn’t add any dressing. Some may prefer to add salsa. Cool the meat slightly before refrigerating. It will keep in the fridge for four days or freeze in Ziplock individual servings.

There were several vegetable options, some without sauces which I selected.

OK, enough about food for you non-foodies. Oh, oh, one more thing about food. Last night, Rita, Gerhard, Petra, Fritz and Tom, and I went to Jabula for another enjoyable time together. We lounged at the bar for a while, ordered our dinner while at the bar, and then sat at the usual table for six that Dawn always saves for us and any group of six we may have to join us.

The food is consistently delicious, and the hosts divine, which brings us back over and over again. We never tire of dining and spending time at that great restaurant, unlike any other we tried throughout the world. The bar reminds us of the TV series Cheers, where “everyone knows your name.” And the food never disappoints.

This is the beautiful European roller. The European roller is the only member of the roller family of birds to breed in Europe. Its overall range extends into the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa, and Morocco. The European roller is found in various habitats, avoiding only treeless plains. They migrate to South Africa from Europe each summer season. That’s a long flight!

When we returned home, we settled in for the night, watched an episode of a series on my laptop, and drifted off to sleep by midnight.

Today will be a quiet day. I continue faithfully with my new walking regime and haven’t missed a day since I started on January 1st. I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, but this year was different. I needed to start walking more for my health.

Be well.

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

These two piglets were Barbara and Lori, who are now almost full-grown and visit each day. This mom is now Tail-less Mom who recently lost her tail to an injury. For more photos, please click here.

Fantastic evening in Kruger National Park with friends…Rhino, hyena, lions and more…

Safari luck prevailed! It will take several days to post the many photos we took while in Kruger National Park on last night’s guided game drive with Rita (her birthday celebration), Gerhard, Petra, Fritz, Louise, Danie, and the two of us. We had the safari vehicle exclusively for our group only and dinner in the bush later on.

Our guide took this group photo of the eight of us.

I took the above video in error while I fast and furiously tried to take photos in the near dark without using any flash since using a camera’s flash is not allowed at night in the park. The flash can blind particular creatures, if not frighten them. We were in their space, not ours.

OK, I get it; a photo of a lion pooping is not necessarily worthy of posting. But, in the dark, in the moving vehicle, this was the best photo I could get of this lion.

As a result, the above video is all over the place. But I couldn’t help but share it with all of you when it included the dehorned rhino, hyena, and one of two lions we spotted in the dark. Also, some of our photos are not as clear as we’d like since many of the photos were taken in the dark, often in the moving vehicle. I’m not a good enough photographer to combat these issues. I did the best I could.

Hyenas are not always seen on a game drive. This one walked past us without giving it much of a thought.

With the eight of us in the safari vehicle with our highly competent guide and his significant other in the front seat, the conversation among us was fun and exciting as we saw more and more stunning wildlife. Our excellent guide, Xander van der Merwe, went over the top to provide us with an excellent experience, and he did. He’s highly skilled and knowledgeable, and the more experienced animal enthusiasts in our group learned a few things from him.

The two male lions were on the road at night in the dark.

If you are coming to or in this area, please don’t hesitate to give Xander a call for an experience such as ours. He will happily arrange an evening to be your guide and enjoy the dinner in the bush. He can be reached at +27 079 061 9995 or by email at xandervdmerwe14@gmail.com.

We waited for the rhino to turn around.

As it turned out, we saw four of the Big Five, but we weren’t disappointed to accomplish this common goal, as we mentioned many times. Sure, it would have been nice to see a leopard, but we saw many exciting and rarely seen wildlife. We couldn’t have been more content.

Finally, he turned, and I was able to get a shot of him, revealing he had been dehorned.

After stopping many times for various sightings on the evening drive, we didn’t arrive at the dining boma until around 8:00 pm, 2000 hrs, instead of the intended hour earlier. The fire was roaring, the tables were nicely set, and the buffet was set up with various options.

Quickly, he wandered off.

We gathered near the bonfire for exciting conversations over our special game drive. Firstly, wine and beer were served, and although all of us were hungry, we didn’t cut ourselves short on “sundowner time.” I drank regular red wine instead of my usual low alcohol wine but monitored myself carefully to avoid drinking too much. Tom drank beer.

Rita and I were standing under the sign.

Before dinner, the servers announced they were serving “champagne,” actually sparkling wine, to celebrate Rita’s birthday. We all raised a glass to her in tribute to her 60th birthday. After drinks and more photo-taking, we were seated at the table with our plate filled with good food. There were plenty of meats and vegetables available for me, while I avoided the starchy sides and dessert.

A beautiful sky at sunset.

Finally, we were on our way back to Louise’s and Danie’s Info Centre parking lot. We all hugged goodbye, delighted over extraordinary memories we’ll all treasure in years to come.

Enjoy our photos, and know there will be many more in the days to come.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 15, 2021:

We posted this photo one year ago. Mom, now called Tail-less Mom, with Barbara and Lori when they were piglets. Now full-grown, they visit us every day with Tail-less Mom and her two new piglets. For more photos, please click here.

More exciting sightings from the trail cam…A special day of celebration with friends.

What a night it was in the bush! These fantastic creatures stopped by after we’d left some bones out after dark. Genets, as shown in the photos, are carnivores. Porcupines aren’t carnivores, but I also tossed out some vegetables, so perhaps that’s what attracted them.

We’ve had a few glimpses of genets, here and there, but never quite as clear as seen in these photos from last night’s shots by the trail cam. Each morning, it is so exciting to see what treasure the trail cam picked up when we aren’t sitting outdoors.

We couldn’t have been more thrilled to see a genet on last night’s trail cam photos.

It rained in buckets last night, and we were inside when these photos were taken. Plus, sitting outdoors in the dark right now with all the insects buzzing around our heads isn’t as fun as it was a few months ago. Although, when we have guests, we have no choice but to sit outdoors when our dining room table only seats four.

Speaking of guests coming for dinner, tonight at Rita and Gerhard’s US citizenship dinner party at the Khaya Umdani house, we’ll plan a night for all of them to come to our house for dinner, maybe next Thursday or Saturday. With Rita’s sister, Petra, and brother-in-law Fritz here with them for a few weeks, it will be fun to entertain them on our veranda.

“A genet is a member of the genus Genetta, which consists of 14 to 17 species of small African carnivorans. The common genet is the only genet present in Europe and occurs in the Iberian Peninsula, Italy, and France. Genet fossils from the Late Miocene and later have been found at sites in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Morocco.”

It’s always so exciting to share the adventures in the bush with first-time human visitors. It’s delightful to watch the expressions of pure joy on their faces when they see a giraffe crossing the road, warthog moms and babies in the garden, and even insects one has never seen in their lives and may never see again.

After all this time we’ve spent in Marloth Park, which Tom and I just figured out has been 30 months, less one month in the US, and several short visa stamp trips, we’ve never become bored for a day. Yes, we’ve been miserably hot, covered in mosquito bites, and suffered some long stretches without power, water, and WiFi. But, as our long-time readers know, none of this keeps us away.

The small, catlike genet is extremely common in Africa. Nocturnal, secretive, and shy, the fox-size common or small-spotted genet has black marks on its face that give it the appearance of wearing a mask. The spots on the back of a genet’s coat are arranged in parallel lines and become elongated as they approach the tail, which has distinct black rings. Blotched genets are close relatives and share a similar facial mask, but they have larger spots and black-tipped tails.

A few minutes ago, I heard the hornbills pecking on the kitchen window as they often do. I jumped up in an attempt to take a photo of them but instead was distracted by five “go-away” birds near the veranda. And when we’re gifted by the constant flow of human and animal visitors, life couldn’t be better than this. I got several excellent shots which we’ll share in tomorrow’s post.

Every day it’s something new. This type of constant stimulation wasn’t as prevalent in our old lives. And, as much as we enjoyed those days and nights, we have a different perspective of life, of nature, from living here in the bush. We’re often asked if we’d live here permanently, and the answer is still an emphatic “no.” It’s the novelty of all of this that keeps us coming back for more.

That’s not to say we’d get bored living here. Many people live here full-time and never tire of the wildlife and their many friends in this hugely social environment. But, our goals remain the same…we are world travelers, and once we can get back out there in the world, we will. Right now, we’re waiting to see if our cruising plans, in less than three months, will once again send us on our way.

This appears to be two porcupines. Could it be a mom and baby?

For now, I’m finished in the kitchen, having made an enormous salad and surprise treat for Rita, which I’ll share in tomorrow’s post. Her birthday is on Friday, and we’re all going into Kruger on a private guided night drive, ending in a dinner in the wild shortly thereafter. We’ve done this in the past and loved the experience, as I’m sure we all will again.

That’s it for today, folks. I have some projects to complete before heading out to Khaya Umdani for tonight’s festivities. It will be fun to be back at that fabulous house where we stayed for a few weeks in 2014 and have been to several times over the years for other social events.

Have a safe and productive day.

Photo from one year ago today, January 12, 2021:

We were no longer in Mumbai, India, on this date, one year ago. Adorable giraffe at rest. For more photos, please click here.

Today is a special one year ago anniversary…Complications with paperwork…Kidding myself about using my phone or camera for scanning documents…

About three weeks ago, this piglet became separated from her mom and two siblings in our garden. We hope others are feeding her too.

One year ago today, we were finally able to leave the hotel in Mumbai, India, where we spent a few days short of 10 months in lockdown at the Marriott hotel due to Covid-19 to fly to South Africa. Several days earlier, we’d made arrangements but expected the flight to be canceled. It was not, and we made it as far as Dubai on January 11, 2021, as described in this post.

Without a doubt, with Covid-19 in the air; it was scary flying for so long. From the Mumbai airport to Marloth Park, it was 59 hours. We remember that day as if it was yesterday. We were so happy to be here, in this house, with this fantastic garden, backing up to Lionspruit, the exhaustion we felt after 2½ days of travel was incidental.

In a matter of a few days of rest, good food, and sleep, we were feeling great and settled in, thanks to Louise‘s help, dinner at Jabula, and our uncanny ability to adapt to time zone, and long travel days reasonably easily. In no time at all, animals came to visit us. Most exciting was the day that Little appeared, shortly after we arrived, tearing a hole in the screen trying to get into the house.

We hadn’t seen Little in over two years at that point, and the fact he found us so far from the Orange house where we lived in 2018/2019, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled. He visits almost every day, except during this busy now-ending holiday season. Soon, he’ll be back to his old routine of stopping by around 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs, daily.

This poor little piglet is alone. We’ll make a point of feeding her each time she stops by.

At this point, we’re busy getting all the documents the law firm needs, and undoubtedly, it’s been a hassle. We carried a small portable printer and scanner when we first began traveling. But those days are long gone. Both weren’t of the quality of desktop models, and neither lasted more than a few years. Besides, they were bulky, although travel-size, and added a few kilos to our luggage weight.

When we need to prepare documents for visas or other reasons; it is a real pain in the you-know-what. There is a post office here in Marloth Park that does printing and scanning for a fee, but their hours aren’t always convenient, and we could end up waiting for quite a while with other customers in the shop.

Louise has an excellent printer and scanner which we use. But, lately, with the busy holiday season, we haven’t felt comfortable pestering her so much, although she is always happy to oblige.

So I got all the necessary documents together, and some of them weren’t acceptable. Our passport pages couldn’t be adequately scanned on a camera, so we had to run back to Louise to do these. Plus, the immigration department wouldn’t accept airline tickets for our eventual departure without the Expedia (or other vendors) logo on the tickets. It’s impossible to make a PDF of an Expedia ticket for whatever reason.  I ended up having to take a screenshot to comply.

Bushbuck’s hair stands up on their backs when they are around other bushbucks, fearful of having to share their territory.

Then, yesterday, the law firm couldn’t get South Africa’s immigration system to accept any of our credit cards to pay the additional processing fees. I called our credit card companies, spending almost an hour on the phone, to find out nothing was wrong with our cards, which I knew would be the case. It’s a South Africa VSF immigration department issue. Hopefully, today, that will be resolved on their end. Otherwise, I don’t know what they/we will do.

At this point, other than the payments as stated above, we’ve done our part, and they should have everything they need to complete our extension applications. It’s frustrating, to say the least. We’re glad we didn’t attempt to do this ourselves. It would have been even more cumbersome.

On another note, last night, after returning from picking up Rita’s sister, Petra, and her husband Fritz, at the airport in Johannesburg, Gerhard called and said he had a “perishable” treat for Tom. He and Fritz came over to hand Tom two boxes of Krispy Kream glazed donuts. He couldn’t have been more thrilled. With six donuts in total, Tom ate three last night and the remaining three with his coffee this morning.

Soon, we’re heading to Komatipoort to shop.

Have a wonderful day!

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

I was wearing my N-99 mask, face shield, and gloves continuously during the entire 2½ days of travel from Mumbai, India, to Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Airport. The post may be found here.

New visitors to the garden appear on trail cam photos!!!…

Definitely, not as clear as we’d like. We were thrilled to see these two Meller’s Mongoose on the trail cam last night.

We had a relatively quiet day upon returning from Royal Kruger Lodge, where we slept on Saturday night after a pipe broke in the bathroom and flooded the house. The house was back in order. I’d already done the laundry the previous day, and nothing more than writing a new post, making dinner, and continuing with my exercise routine was required of me.

It was on my mind that we needed to go to Louise‘s office early in the morning to get clearer scanned copies of our passports and visa stamped pages from when we returned from Zambia in October with our current visas good until January 23, 2022. Now, the law firm has all of the necessary documents to begin processing our extensions. We wait.

When an application for an extension is submitted, the approval won’t be tendered until after the original visa extension dates have expired. We have to stay in the country until the approval comes through, or we’ll become “undesirables” if we leave earlier.

In other words, if the approval doesn’t come in until we need to leave for our April 8th cruise, we won’t have the benefit of the extension and will be banned from South Africa for five years. We don’t want that to happen. The usual processing time using a lawyer is under 60 days. On our own, it could easily have been much longer.

Immigration offices are poorly staffed right now due to the pandemic. It was worth paying the US $983, ZAR 15,366 for the legal fees. It is several thousand dollars less than we’d have paid to fly somewhere.

It is hard to get perfect shots from the trail cam, but we’d never been able to see these two Meller’s Mongoose in the garden without it.

If our transatlantic cruise on Celebrity Cruise Line is canceled, we’ll have no choice but to leave around April 23, when the new visa extensions expire. We can only wait and see what happens. Many cruises are canceling now, and ours could soon be on the chopping block.

We’d love to embark on this cruise, but the news isn’t promising. Instead, we’re keeping a positive attitude and loosely considering our options if we can’t sail away. No, we aren’t worried. This pandemic is now in its third year, and we’ve managed to figure out what to do, time after time.

We finally got our refund from Delta Airlines on the flight they canceled for what would have been our trip to friend Karen and Rich’s wedding, upcoming, on February 11. We’re disappointed we couldn’t attend the wedding but being stuck in a two-week quarantine in a hotel in Florida was particularly unappealing to us.

And yet there was no other way to fully provide peace of mind to the wedding party with us coming from South Africa. There are nearly 1,000,000 new cases a day in the US, and the misconception is that South Africa is worse. It is not. Now, 95% of all cases are the less dangerous Omicron variant. But, even if a bride or groom ended up with the cold-like symptoms, typical with Omicron, it could put quite a damper on their wedding. We understood the concern and chose to stay away.

Instead, this week we’re content in Marloth Park as always. It’s Rita’s 60th birthday week, and many fun activities are planned to which we’re included. Today, they are in Johannesburg, picking up Rita’s sister Petra and her husband, Fritz, from the airport, arriving from Germany and staying with them for a few weeks.

They will all be staying at the Khaya Umdani house starting today. On Wednesday, we’re going to that house for a dinner party celebrating Rita and Gerhard’s one-year US citizenship anniversary. On Friday, on the actual day of Rita’s birthday, we’re going on a night game drive with a guide into Kruger National Park, ending with a dinner in the bush, in the dark, with the wild animals surrounding us.  Then on Saturday evening, the six of us will head to Jabula for dinner.

Next week, we’ll invite the four of them for dinner at our house. It will be a fun and busy time. We’re happy to have an active social life with dear friends once again.

Vusi is here now cleaning the house, and we’re sitting at the table on the veranda as usual. Stingy is here along with Imposter Little, but we had many more animals a short time ago.  More and more holidaymakers are leaving the park after the school holidays have ended. Soon, we’ll see many more wildlife visitors, and I’ll be able to take more photos that have been sparse over the long holiday season.

Be well.

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

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #291. An owl we spotted in Kanha National Park in India. For more photos, please click here.

Frightening visitor to our garden at 4:00 am!!!…What do we do now?…Earlier, a wonderful sighting…

T75

It started as an ordinary night. We enjoyed time on the veranda during the day and into the evening. After dark, when the bugs came out, we went inside to watch the final episode of season 4, Yellowstone, and another hilarious episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

During the evenings, when we are inside the house, Tom frequently checks the garden to see if we have any visitors. Last night, around 8:00 pm, 2000 hrs, he told me to hurry and come look out the veranda screen door. Our favorite porcupine, with fully extended quills, was not only in our garden but also came up onto the veranda checking out Frank’s leftover bird seeds.

It was the best sighting we had of this exciting and unusual animal. We were hoping they would pass in front of the camera, but unfortunately, no such luck. There was no way we could have used our camera to take a photo since the sound of opening the door would have easily scared the porcupine away.

Since we’ve had the camera set up, we’ve been able to see her in photos in the garden at night, although they were often too far from the camera for a clear shot. Last night would have been perfect if only once she passed in front of the trail cam. But, we were nonetheless thrilled to see it and will continue to watch for another sighting.

Then, off to bed, and by midnight we were both sound asleep. Once, during the night, we were awakened by Tom’s phone ringing. He’d forgotten to turn on the “Do Not Disturb” button before he went to sleep. It was a call about renewing our car warranty. We don’t own a car. Robocall. Disgusting.

Tom drifted off right away while it took me over an hour to return to sleep. When I get startled by a sound during the night, I always have trouble falling back to sleep which I’ve read is due to the release of cortisol and adrenaline, hormones that are released to a “fight or flight” response. Tom doesn’t seem to have the same reaction.

This morning, as usual, Tom was up and out on the veranda before me. He always takes the data card out of the camera and reviews the night’s photos. Today, he was particularly enthused to see the images, hoping we’d have photos showing the porcupine. Alas, there wasn’t a single photo of the porcupine, much to our disappointment.

There have been many burglaries in Marloth Park, often at gunpoint in the middle of the night, and this concerns us. However, there were only three photos from the trail cam…a man in our garden at 3:58 am, as shown in today’s photos!!! Why was this man in our garden so secluded, requiring a walk through dense bush to access?

Immediately upon seeing the photos, Tom showed them to me. I contacted Louise, sending her the three images. She has contacted Field Security, and they’ll be coming out today to talk to us. We will ask them to come by our house several times during the night. Doing so may not ensure they’d catch this man, but at least, if he’s here again, he could be deterred by their presence.

Yes, our house is fully protected by an alarm system with bars on windows, including the screen door to the veranda. We keep the alarm button on the key fob in our possession at all times, including beside the bed at night. In any case, this is still worrisome, and we will feel a little relieved after we’ve spoken to Field Security.

Several of our friends have experienced break-ins over the years. Although there are guards at the entrance gates, anyone can enter Marloth Park since it is a public municipality. The guards at the gates’ job are to ensure that no animals are coming into the park or heading out of the park in the boot of a car.

When we came to South Africa in 2013, we were aware of the high rates of crime in some areas, as is the case, and in our own US and many other cities throughout the world. But, we thought living in the remote bush might offer some security. Over the years we’ve spent here in Marloth Park, we’ve heard many stories of burglaries occurring during the night. Some include guns and, in the case of one couple of our friends, being tied up while the burglary occurred.

That’s the news for today, folks. We will get back to you when we know more.

Be well.

                                         Photo from one year ago, January 4, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #285. The colorful temples in Chennai were breathtaking to see. “Kapaleeshwarar Temple: Dedicated to one of the forms of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati that is Arulmigu Kapleeswar and Karpagambal respectively, the temple should be on the top position of your list of temples to visit.” For more photos, please click here.

Marloth Park has suffered a sad loss of a beloved animal…

Not our photo. Fluffy, male, and Dezi at the Impala Dam on January 15, 2021.

After a good night’s sleep, I awoke this morning at 7:30 and began my day by checking out the world news, my email, messages on Messenger, text, and WhatsApp, and finally checking out the most recent new posts on Facebook as I always do. I love knowing what’s going on in the world. I also listen to podcasts when getting ready for the day. But more on that later in this post.

When I read the following post this morning that popped up on Facebook, it brought tears to my eyes. Not only was it beautifully written and heart-wrenching, it was sensitive to the reality that few of us in Marloth Park had ever seen Dezi, but that didn’t mean we didn’t love her.

Many nights, we’ve sat on the veranda and listened to hers, and Fluffy’s roar permeates the air. Last night, the roars we heard must have only been Fluffy’s since, by then, Dezi was no more.

Please read the following unedited, beautiful tributes to her and her sad passing.

May be an image of big cat and nature
Not our photo. Fluffy and Dezi at the water’s edge in Lionspruit.

✝️A TRIBUTE TO QUEEN DEZI ✝️ by Gerrie Camacho.

The roar from the Lionspruit lioness, also known as Dezi, will no longer be heard as she has spent her last night under the Lowveld skies. As of last night, she will no longer join her mate of the past 16 plus years in the always familiar duet of lion vocalization, claiming Lionspruit as their territory. She was a quiet legend and was most probably one of the oldest wild living lionesses but at the age of twenty years had to quit the African bush life.

Few people were privileged to spend time with her, many were lucky to see her, and most owners and visitors had the regular privilege to hear her at night time. After her radio collar transmitted from the same area for the past few days, it was pertinent to go find her on foot in an area too dense to enter with a vehicle.

She was hardly responding to any stimuli of the sound of humans and paid no attention to our approach on foot. A winding pathway was established from the nearest road to approach her by vehicle. Here she was darted and taken to a workable area where she was examined by Doc Peet.

We can only pay tribute to this female who kept a fighting spirit to survive until the last minute. Doc Peet who has been serving the Marloth community voluntarily and diligently over the past couple of years had the sad task to let her pass on as humanely as possible. This task could have been performed more easily, but he chose to help her out of this life with as much dignity as possible. Thank you to all those involved in finding her. Thank you Doc Peet for the professional, compassionate and respectful manner you once again showed while working with this magnificent beast in her last moments under the Lionspruit skies. R.I.P. Dezi!❤️

Also, on Facebook was the following message further explaining her passing:

It is a sad day indeed for all of us who love our own Lionspruit lions.
Yesterday we lost Dezi. It has been a long week of hoping against hope that she would recover from age-related injuries that she recently suffered whilst still living her best lion life. But unfortunately, she was losing ground day by day. Dezi indeed lived to a great age for a lion.
We would like to thank Doctor Peet Venter for his caring, professional input. He concluded yesterday that Dezi was suffering, and it was time to let her go. Thank you also to Gerrie Camacho from MTPA, the Marloth Park Field Rangers, and the Honorary Rangers for this last day of care. A special thank you to Joce Gordon for the time-intensive monitoring, especially over the last few weeks.
Genie Retief, Chief Honorary Ranger.”
May be an image of big cat and nature
Not our photo. Another gorgeous photo of Dezi.

It is amazing that those of us who love wildlife can feel so deeply for an animal they’ve only heard but never seen. That’s the magic of living in Africa, or anywhere there is free-roaming wildlife. We fall in love with their beauty, uniqueness, and mystery, although we were never able to get too close to her or ever see her at all.

If we are so touched by the sound of a lion, living only meters away from Lionspruit, which abuts our holiday home in the rear, it is easy to understand how connected we become with the animals we see almost every day, who look into our eyes, with trust and interest and depend on us, in the leanest times, to toss some sustenance their way.

Soon, the holidaymakers who came to the park for the Christmas and New Year season will be leaving to return to their homes in other parts of South Africa and, for some, other parts of the world. When they are gone, the vast numbers of animals that routinely visit us will return to us in abundance.

Now, with the rich vegetation for the wildlife to eat after weeks of rain, they no longer need much in the way of pellets. And yet, day by day, they return, much to our joy and appreciation. Sure, we still toss a few pellets their way, the same way you’d offer your dog or cat an occasional treat, knowing with or without this offering, you are still loved, still important in their lives.

In the future, the lion roars we hear at night will only be those of Fluffy and, of course, the remaining five lions currently residing in our presence.

The holiday has ended, but our hope for the future is only just beginning. May the New Year bring all of us peace of mind and comfort.

Photo from one year ago today, January 3, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #284. Festival in the street in India. “Meena Sankranti is an important Hindu festival observed on the auspicious occasion of the sun’s transition from Pisces to Aries. Known as Meena Sankramanam in South India, the festival will be celebrated on March 14 (Saturday), 2020, all over India. Celebrating a Sankranti is often marked with the donation of various things. According to specific personal needs, the people celebrate the event at the onset of every month. Some Indian states like Punjab, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala observe the occasion at the beginning of each month. In contrast, states like West Bengal celebrate the festival during the latter half of the month.” For more photos, please click here.