Figuring out credits from canceled cruises…How much was Tom’s dental surgery today?…

Wildebeests, zebras and warthogs in the garden.

I won’t get into all the convoluted particulars regarding the confusion on when and how we’ll get refunds and credits for canceled cruises we’ve booked in the past few years during the pandemic. Most travelers book one cruise, and it’s nowhere near as confusing as to when we’ve booked seven or eight, many of which have canceled after collecting our final payments.

Hmmm…I wonder why they don’t cancel them before we make the final payment. Are the cruise lines in such a dire financial situation that they need the “float” of our money for three or four months until they get on their feet? That’s a harsh reality and frustration for world travelers like us, who book several cruises over a year or two.

That’s wildebeest Bad Ear looking at me.

In almost ten years of world travel, we’ve sailed on 27 cruises, few of which we ever canceled. If there were cancellations, there were precipitated by the cruise line for one reason or another. In our case, we may have moved several bookings to future dates before the final payments were due to satisfy the needs of our upcoming itinerary. Still, none of these incurred any penalties or refunds.

With the war in Ukraine and the pandemic, we’re seeing some of the cruises we booked making changes we didn’t request, and now we’re struggling to get our money back consistently and seamlessly. Often, a small amount appears as a credit on a credit card we used to pay for a cruise. We never know which one it is without calling Costco, being on hold for an hour, and often holding on the line for another 45 minutes while Costco Travel calls the cruise line to get it figured out.

Tom was checking out Bad Ear after he jumped the fence to get closer to us.

We don’t blame Costco Travel. The long hold is the only issue we have with them. But, the perks they offer as an incentive to their customers are well worth the inconvenience of continuing to work with them. The refund issues are not their doing. That’s entirely up to the cruise line.

When we think about how much money we’ve lost due to the pandemic, it’s in the thousands. This was no one’s fault. It was the nature of the dreadful virus, and many lost money on travel-related expenditures, wages, and business revenue. When we were in the US, we couldn’t believe how many small and medium-sized businesses have failed due to these tough economic times.

Bossy often jumps the fence to remind us she is here.

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on most of us in one way or another. Now, we are all faced with rising fuel prices, let alone the cost of living in most areas worldwide.

At this point, we have a few airlines holding credits for us that won’t provide us with a refund. We have no idea if and when we’ll ever be able to use those credits. All of these losses certainly have impacted our budget, and we’ll proceed cautiously to ensure we remain vigilant and maintain control of our expenses.

In the interim, we’re happy to be in South Africa, where the cost of living is considerably less overall than in many countries. Tom just spent an hour in the dentist’s chair having dental surgery for his implants and the total bill for that hour was ZAR 1266, US $79.78, as shown in the statement below.

Tom’s dental surgery bill for today was ZAR 1266, US $79.78.

After the appointment, he headed to the pharmacy for three medications due to the surgery, including antibiotics, non-narcotic painkillers, and probiotics, which are always prescribed with antibiotics in South Africa. The total pharmacy bill was ZAR 424.05, US $26.71, as shown in another photo below. Where would we pay so little for this amount of service and products? Nowhere that we know.

Tom’s pharmacy bill, ZAR 424.05, US $26.71.

As “they” say,…it all comes out in the wash. We’ll continue to stay on top of the credits we’re due for the cruises via more phone calls and diligence, ensuring everything is accurate.

Have a delightful weekend!

Photo from one year ago today, June 24, 2021:

A red-backed shrike was sitting atop Rita’s hat while we were at Two Trees. For more photos, please click here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The nyala family stops by once again.

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

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

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

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

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

Handsome Big Daddy.

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

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

Have a great day!

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

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

It’s the first day of winter…The winter solstice…

My favorite kudu, Bossy, from the old house.

Here are a few tidbits of information about the winter solstice in South Africa:

“When it is the winter solstice on 21 June in South Africa over what line of latitude is the sun directly overhead?
The Tropic of Capricorn
The sun’s rays are directly overhead along the Tropic of Capricorn (the latitude line at 23.5° south, passing through Brazil, South Africa, and Australia) on December 21.
Kudu family.
Which Month Has The Shortest Days In South Africa? On Tuesday, June 21, 2022, Cape Town will witness the solstice (the winter solstice). In comparison to the December solstice, here is a 4-hour and 32-minute shorter day of the year. The shortest day is on this date in locations south of the equator.”

It’s odd for us Northern Hemisphere people to wrap our brains around the fact that the winter solstice begins today, June 21st. Of the past ten years of world travel, we’ve spent five of the summer solstice in the Southern Hemisphere, experiencing this peculiar sensation of winter beginning in June.

When Bad Ear walks along the dirt road, as soon as I call him, he makes a sharp turn and comes to visit. It only took him a few days to learn the sound of my voice and his name.

I suppose it’s all about what one is used to for most of their life. But, after all these years, it’s not unusual for us to experience the beginning of winter in June. But, the fact that winter begins in June in South Africa doesn’t mean that we are free for an extended period of the hot summer months when winter is short. In a matter of only three or four months, the temperatures will climb, and it will become hot again, and the insects, including mosquitoes, will be back among us.

However, we will savor each day of comfortable weather over the next three or four months. I will still need to wear repellent as I am right now, to deter the stings from chiggers, sand fleas, and pepper ticks. It’s not unheard of to see a few mosquitos this time of year.

Impalas and Lollie.

When we lived in Minnesota, the summer was short. It didn’t warm up much until May or June; by August and September, we could feel the temperatures dropping as we’d rolled into fall. Often, by November, we had snow.

This morning is a little warmer than the past few mornings. We kicked off the extra covers when the bedroom warmed up at night. This morning, for the first time in weeks, we’re outdoors on the veranda without additional layers. Both of us are wearing shirts without long sleeves. It’s a beautiful day in the bush.

Big Daddies and impalas.

Soon, we head to Komatipoort to get our teeth cleaned at Komati Dental, next door to Dr. Theo’s office. While here, we’ll often have a cleaning every three months. The cost of the cleaning is 75% less than in the US, typical for most medical services. No dental insurance is needed here.

In a few days, we’ll book the appointment for Tom for the final step in his dental implants after having two teeth pulled about six months ago. He’ll be relieved to have this done since the gaping hole is obvious whenever he smiles. He’ll return to Dr. Singh, the dental surgeon in Malalane, about a 35-minute drive from here, who initially pulled the teeth and placed the foundation for the implants.

This is a good-sized hadada bird that’s been hanging around the garden.

After our teeth cleanings, we’ll stop at the pharmacy and Spar to pick up a few items. This way, we won’t have to shop again until next week. We have taco meat left over from last night, so tonight, we’ll have one of our favorite dinners, homemade taco salad. We don’t use the carb-laden shell. We load up diced tomatoes, sliced green olives, chopped purple onion, hand-grated cheddar cheese, seasoned meat, and lettuce into big bowls. I add sour cream and sliced avocados to my salad.

I make the spice mix for the meat from scratch, which doesn’t have added chemicals, starch, and wheat found in store-bought taco seasoning mix, which, surprisingly, they sell here. Spar Market has a small supply of ingredients for various ethnic recipes. The spices are plentiful, so I have no problem making the seasonings. If you’d like the recipe for the spice mix, please comment, and I will post it.

Time to walk again before we head out. We’ll be back with more tomorrow.

Have a pleasant day!

Photo from one year ago today, June 21, 2021:

For the first time, gray louries pecked at Frank’s seeds. For more photos, please click here.

It was a lovely Father’s Day in the bush…The animals are already back!!!…Check out today’s new video, taken moments ago!…

This morning, they returned from the busy holiday weekend.  The animals, I mean. As I type this, there is a forkl of kudus, two Medium Daddies whose horns are halfway to full-grown, three moms, and three babies, one of which can’t be more than a few weeks old.

Also, a herd of impalas joined in on the excitement, and in moments, we had 20 or more animals in the garden, inspiring me to make the above video. It’s such fun for us to see so many wildlife in the garden. We never tire of greeting the latest to arrive.

Lollie is munching on pellets with them. The animals have become used to her being a permanent fixture in our garden, allowing her to “dine” with them. She’s a little bossy also, never failing to let the other visitors know, “this is my house!” It’s hilarious that she is here almost all day and night.

Last evening, during sundowner time, the mongooses arrived, cackling, running like crazy, ensuring we knew they were here. The band of about 50 crazy little critters piled atop one another in the side garden, waiting patiently while I cut the paloney (a large baloney type roll we buy at Spar) into bite-sized pieces, ensuring enough for all of them.

We had a pleasant Father’s Day!. No, we didn’t do much since the park was packed with tourists, and we didn’t want to deal with the Crocodile River crowds. or the groups on the bumpy dirt roads, but today, it’s quiet again since most of them had left. The school holidays will begin in a few weeks, and it will be busy, maybe for the entire three weeks.

Something has been on my mind about our posts the past few days. We’ve mentioned this in the past and will repeat it here today. Sometimes, nothing is going on to write about. After almost ten years of living in other people’s houses, visiting all seven continents, countless countries, cities, towns and villages, and hotels, we sometimes like doing nothing.

That’s not to say we don’t have many exciting plans. But, without a doubt, the pandemic has significantly impacted us. Thousands of flights were canceled worldwide last week. Cruises are being canceled right and left. Prices for transportation, including airfare, rental cars, taxis, and Uber, have skyrocketed. Even the cost of living in Africa has

Some world travelers are on the move right now, certainly more frequently than we have been in the past few months. But considering how much we did in the two months we were away from Marloth Park, we feel a break is in order.  Also, we consider  the time spent in booking the following, which also contributes to our desire to stay put for a while:

  • Flights: 4 trips, 9 flights
  • Cruise: 1 (plus canceled 1 cruise due to contracting Covid-19 on the first cruise)
  • Transatlantic crossings: 4
  • Hotels (plus one period staying with friends): 6
  • Long distance driver, taxi, Ube, limo: 5
  • Rental cars: 4

In two months from today, we’ll be on the move again as we make our way to Zambia and then on to Botswana where we’ll stay for a week with many bookings required for that trip.

But, in between times, especially considering all the problems still encountered due to the pandemic, and the difficulty we encountered in those two months, we don’t hesitate to take advantage of this quieter time. As a result, sometimes, we have little to share.

We think about how dull it would be if we lived in a country without the constant stream of wildlife at our door, after we’d done a fair share of sightseeing and taking photos, as we’ve done in many countries worldwide. Right now, we are happiest here.

Also, we don’t forget that in five months, we’ll be off on another six-plus week adventure while we cruise for 42 nights from Athens to Cape Town. We won’t be short of any photos to share and stories to tell. So, in the interim, please bear with us with our mundane stories and lack of exciting new photos. Yesterday, we posted a recipe. Who knows what we’ll post tomorrow other than photos of wildlife and the nuances of our daily lives?

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, June 20, 2021:

We had set Frank’s seeds on the table to keep the warthogs and bushbucks from coming onto the veranda to eat them. Suddenly four hornbills decided to dig in. For more photos, please click here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is Rueben. He is in love with Lollie.

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

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

Raspberry/Blueberry Drop Scones
Makes 24 cookies/scones 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The zebras returned yesterday for another visit.

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

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

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

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

Quiet in the bush…Longevity…how do we attain it?…

Beautiful female bushbuck jumped the fence to enter the garden close to the house.

It’s cool. It’s quiet. Every half hour I get up from my seat on the veranda and walk, walk, walk. It’s boring and tedious but I know I must do it, for my heart, to extend my life, to stay fit and agile to enable us to continue traveling the world.

Fast approaching 75 years old, I wonder how much control I actually have over extending my life considering the precarious cardiovascular disease I possess, acquired from heredity, certainly not my lifestyle. From the time I was 16 years old, having seen family members die from heart disease and diabetes, I went on a rampage of exercising and eating a healthy diet. And yet, it didn’t save me from developing cardiovascular disease. But it may have kept me alive.

This is our favorite new warthog, Lollie, since her tusks are lopsided. She spends most of her days and nights in our garden. She already knows her name and comes when we call her.

However, like all of us,  we have stress in our day-to-day lives, and as a single mom, breadwinner, and business owner, I had my share. There was no escaping it. Now, I have little stress, living this blissful life, barring a few obstacles along the way.

If happiness results in a long life of good health, we should live until well into our 100s. I have this cardiovascular situation, but I know many who’ve had the surgery and have gone on to live long and full lives. I hang onto that hope, trying not to spend any  time thinking about having a heart attack, stroke or even another surgery. The worry alone could result in enough stress to impact the outcome. I choose not to go down that road.

Yet to be named baby bushbuck.

But, even with perfect health at 75, one’s days might be numbered. For me, it’s not about fear. It’s about passion for continuing to live this beautiful life with my loving partner, husband, and friend. I couldn’t ask for more. Nor could I ask for more meaning and purpose in our day-to-day lives.

Unabashedly, I admit that writing here daily is highly instrumental in enhancing the quality of our lives. Why is this the case? For many reasons, some are hard to explain. In part, it’s the magical process of seeing our lives in print each day. Who does that? We whine, cajole, praise, and critique everything we encounter along the way. This is therapeutic in a manner that is difficult to explain. It reduces stress once we have an opportunity to write it down.

Mom and baby bushbuck and perhaps an auntie or older sibling.

Often psychologists and therapists suggest patients write down their feelings and experiences. Could the benefit of this often prescribed undertaking have an impact on our lives as well? Being vulnerable and documenting our flaws and foibles provides a sense of reality that makes us look hard at ourselves and how we can improve as individuals and as a couple.

The profound sense of inclusion and support is a natural by-product of our daily postings. When I wrote about the chigger bites, countless readers wrote with suggestions. In one’s life, do they have such a pool of opinions from which to glean information? For us, it’s only a click away.

Kudus eating pellets in the garden.

We have a lot to learn. That will never change. But, learning in the senior years has been proven to add to longevity, mental acuity, and good health. Our lives are abundant in learning. Every single day we research information about our surroundings wherever we may be in the world.

You’d think after so much time in Africa; we’d fulfilled our desires for knowledge about this continent, its people, its cultures, and its wildlife. We haven’t experienced or learned more than a grain of sand on 100 miles of beach compared to what we could know after spending decades on the continent.

A young female kudu checks us out.

The secrets to longevity from the medical community are fraught with conflicting opinions, studies, confusion, and uncertainty. Eat this, eat that. Drink this, drink that. Red wine is good; red wine is bad. Oh, good grief. We are left to our knowledge and perceptions on what will benefit us in the long haul. And once we’re gone…well, we’ll have no perception then.

So, what do we do? For us, we consider our genetics and proceed from there. We implement that which makes us “feel well” and healthy. But, in reality, it may be as simple as “when your number is up, your number is up.” Perhaps it boils down to the quality of life. What does it take to make us feel good, living one day at a time? What does it take to feel content, fulfilled, and ultimately happy? Do that, not something else.

Be well. Be happy.

Photo from one year ago today, June 18, 2021:

Tiny and Bossy were waiting for treats. For more photos, please click here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great day!

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

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

Bird watching in the morning!…Delightful first time sighting…

When we spotted the white marks on this bird’s feathers, we wondered about these rectangle-shaped markings on his feathers.

A band of about 40 mongooses arrived as we began today’s post. Last night, we had rib-eye steaks on the braai that proved too fatty for our taste. We ate some of the meat but left lots of meat and fat on the bones. Guess who loves fat and meat besides, South Africans? Mongooses. As carnivores, they love when we offer them meat of any kind. We always make sure the meat is fresh and safe for them to eat. We don’t keep leftover meat for more than a few days.

Zoom in to see detail on this fascinating bird, a green wood hoopoe. It’s called green based on the luminosity when the sun hits it. Due to its red/orange bill and feet, it’s also a red-billed wood hoopoe.

Now at almost noon, we’ve had a busy morning. Lots of animals stopped by, including six zebras. We’d hoped to go to Kruger National Park this morning but decided to go tomorrow instead. We had some tasks we wanted to accomplish today. Also, I prepped dinner for tonight and tomorrow night, so we’ll be good to go first thing in the morning.

Like a woodpecker, he pecked at the tree to find worms and insects. He was successful and found a worm sharing it with his mate.

It’s been a gorgeous day since I started walking today, and I am also doing steps, one flight at a time. It will take about three weeks to get back to my former goal of 8,000 – 10,000 steps a day. Plus, I plan to do ten flights of stairs daily, which will further enhance my stamina.

He was determined to get a snack out of this tree.

Since this property is much larger than the last holiday home, it will be easier to get in the number of steps by walking around the grounds and into the house. Still, I don’t feel comfortable walking on dirt roads with countless potholes and uneven terrain, which could easily result in a fall.

Taking photos was tricky since the movement of any type would send him and his mate on their way.

Sunday morning, while we sat at the table on the veranda, we noticed many birds flying around the garden.. There were the usual oxpeckers, hornbills, and white crested-helmet shrike. Still, we stopped dead in our tracts when we spotted a bird neither of us had ever seen in South Africa or any other African country.

He was intent on finding something in that hole.

Immediately, we started researching online to find the name of the bird which is shown in today’s photos, a green wood hoopoe, also known as the red-billed wood hoopoe, described as follows from this site:

“An elongated, metallic-green-black bird with red feet and a long, decurved, red-orange bill. Juveniles have dark bills but are often in the company of adults. It flies heavily, with the long, floppy, white-tipped tail dangling behind. Pairs and groups of up to 14 birds are highly social, occupying savanna, woodland, riverine forest, and gardens, where they nest and roost in natural cavities. Clambers in trees, probing bark and crevices for insects and small vertebrates. They communicate using a strong cackling chatter that sounds maniacal. The almost identical Grant’s and Violet woodhoopoes (with which it sometimes hybridizes) differ from Green Woodhoopoe only by having a coppery-purple (not glossy greenish) metallic sheen.”

The mating pair, who mate for life, were together on the tree. He fed her a worm.

This bird is not endangered, but after all of the time we’ve been in Africa, we were surprised we hadn’t seen it in the past. It was exciting to watch it pecking at the inside of the tree, as shown in the photos, and finding a worm he fed to his mate, who joined him on the tree. We couldn’t get the camera since we knew if we did so, they would fly away, so we missed that special photo op.

However, once we grabbed the camera off the dining room table and sat back down at the veranda table, we were thrilled to get the shots we were sharing today. What a fantastic sighting this was for us both. Immediately, we put out bird seeds which the woophoe and the hornbills seemed content to share.

This is a hanging bird feeder on a pulley line used to prevent monkeys from getting the seed. But it’s not foolproof, as we observed last week when a monkey made its way across the line and ate all the seeds.

No, we don’t have a Frank here, which is disappointing. But, perhaps we’ll “build relationships” with other birds visiting. Every creature, big and small, has a special meaning to us, whether it’s an insect, a rodent, or a massive beast. They all are unique and exciting.

We’ve always enjoyed watching hornbills, widespread birds in Africa, but they are somewhat entertaining.

We’re cooking lamb for me and bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin for Tom, with rice for him, avocado slices for me, and salad for us both. Since Tom’s weight is holding and he’s feeling well, I used up the remainder of the bananas to make him coconut banana bread, a recipe from our old lives. It’s slowly baking in the oven now in a springform pan I found in the back of the cupboard.

All is well here. Gradually, we’re regaining our strength and stamina and are grateful to be feeling better.

Be well.

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

Our friends, Rita and Gerhard, with their new “bakkie.” It was a very smooth ride! We look forward to their return to Marloth Park in months. Last New Year’s Eve, they surprised us and showed up at a party we attended. For more photos, please click here.

Fun and very late night in the bush…Zebras!!!…

Note the cute marking on this zebra’s left upper leg, a perfectly formed polka dot.

Today, I had planned to write about wildlife being killed on the road by speeding visitors and residents. But, when I saw the photos of the kudu that had to be shot when its legs were broken from being hit by a speeding car on Olifant Road, I decided not to post them. It’s heartbreaking.

As the season moves into school holiday time with more and more tourists visiting Marloth Park, this issue becomes more and more worrisome. Every weekend several animals are killed. This is terrifying for those who treasure every being in the park that we are blessed to enjoy. These poor animals deserve to live out their lives free from harm by humans.

This is the same zebra, as shown above, that has the polka dot marking on its upper left leg. How cute is that!

We know many of our readers are visiting our site who live in South Africa and many other countries whose citizens come here to experience the joys of living in the bush, even if it’s for only a few days. Please, tourists, consider the lives of these fantastic creatures and come here with the intent of sharing in their beauty and majesty by driving slowly on all of the roads, including Olifant Road, the paved road, and all the dirt roads.

Last night, friends Alan and Fiona came for sundowners at 4:30 pm, 1630 hrs., and stayed until after 1:30 am. By the time we cleaned up and got to bed, we didn’t drift off until after 2:30 am. Fortunately, we both slept until 8:30 am and feel pretty good today. Six hours of sleep isn’t enough, so that a short nap might be on the agenda this afternoon. Twenty minutes is all it takes to make us feel refreshed.

This zebra was being pushy with me about tossing more pellets. I complied. I can’t help myself!

In any case, we had a great time catching up with our dear friends. We hadn’t seen them in seven months since they left here to go to the Durban area and several timeshare properties in other regions of South Africa. It was great to see them again. They will be leaving again in September, but surely we’ll see them many more times over the winter.

The food, the wine, and the lively conversation flowed easily, as it always does with our bush friends, some from here and others from different parts of the world. The commonality we share of our love and fascination with wildlife and the unique lifestyle of living in the bush brings us all together in a magical way, unlike anything we’ve observed anywhere else in the world.

Undoubtedly, that fact is highly instrumental in our desire to return here, over and over again. As we always say, over and over again, life in the bush is magical based on its people and wildlife, a perfect combination for joy and adventure. It’s never dull. No, it’s not always an adventure, but invariably something comes up that grabs our attention and interest.

The zebras walked around the garden to drink from the pool.

Louise and Danie stopped by this morning. We’ve been having some trouble with the inverter, which provides us with an opportunity to use a lamp and fan in the bedroom during power outages. But, more importantly, during outages and load shedding, we can use WiFi since the inverter provides power to the router.

This way, when the power is out, we can still stream shows on our streaming services, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. Otherwise, it can be dull at night in the dark without power. We can’t see any animals stopping by; the only distraction would be dumb offline games on our phones. Plus, after a while, the phones go dead.

With the inverter, we can charge our devices, stream shows and be in the bedroom with one lamp working. Running a fan at night is the difference between sleeping and staying awake in the heat when it’s hot in the summer.

Tomorrow, Danie will return and resolve the inverter issue, and we can continue to have peace of mind. For the past two weeks, there hasn’t been any load shedding, but surely, it will start up again soon, which is always the case.

Today, we’ll dine in, cooking two rib-eye steaks on the braai, rice for Tom, steamed green beans, and salad. It’s an effortless dinner on a lazy day.

Enjoy your Sunday!

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

Little and some friends. For more photos, please click here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Juan’s Reptile Rescue

April and May 2022🐍🦎 🦂🐊

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

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

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

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