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

Norman and his friends stopped by today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tusker and a little bushbuck sharing pellets.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a pleasant day!

Be well.

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

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

Part 3…Exciting birthday plans revealed…This is the fifth time my birthday was spent in the bush!…

Us at the bar at Jabula on the night of my 74th birthday.

This morning, we’re off to Komati for groceries, a stop at the pharmacy, and a shoe repair shop suggested by friend Janet at my birthday dinner at Jabula on Sunday night. Tom has a favorite pair of Cole Haan loafers he’d like to have repaired since that style is no longer available.

Last night we were busy at the house. Tom noticed some price changes for future Azamara cruises, and by calling waiting on hold for almost an hour, he was able to save us another US $1500, ZAR 22809. But, instead of lowering the prices of the cruises, they have us US $500, ZAR 7603, additional cabin credit on three of the cruises.

Dawn had set up the table with decorations and lovely place settings for our dinner for ten. One couple couldn’t come due to the husband being in hospital.

What benefit is there with additional cabin credit? Since we wanted to get the best possible price, we booked the cruise without perks, such as free drinks and WiFi. Overall, we were ahead by removing these and going with the lower pricing. With these cabin credits, which will now be US $1400, ZAR 21265, to US $1500, ZAR 22809, we can use the cabin credit for WiFi and drink packages if we choose.

Since neither of us drinks alcohol during the day, generally, it doesn’t pay to use a drink package when some drinks are allowed at certain times and events, such as wine during meals on the Azamara cruises. But Tom doesn’t drink wine, so figure that out once we’re on board and see the drink prices.

Danie, Louise, Rita, Steve, Janet, Mick, Lynne, Tom, me, and Gerhard from the left. What a fine group of people!!

Our upcoming cruise is on a Celebrity ship. We won’t know if they will re-start the priority club cocktail hour each evening, which had been suspended due to the pandemic. Today, we heard that most cruise lines are doing away with masking requirements. Perhaps in the next six weeks, more Covid related restrictions will be eased.

We wanted to share the photos and events from my birthday party on Sunday night. First off, Dawn did a fantastic job of ensuring everything was perfect, which is always the case whenever we are there. The decorations, the table setting, the service, and the food were exemplary.

Tom’s usual plate of ribs with white rice and creamed spinach.

There was never a dull moment. David,  Jabula‘s new assistant manager, replacing Lyn, who moved on to other ventures, showed up during sundowner time, bringing me a beautiful gift of body product! Dawn, the owner, had another gorgeous collection of bath products. Louise and Danie went over the top with the elephant interaction and a bottle of my favorite wine.

Rita and Gerhard lavished me with local African jewelry, which I love,  and a new external hard drive (which we desperately needed) loaded with dozens of recent movies! How thoughtful was all of that!

Lynne’s espetada, barbecued meat served on a tall skewer.

I’d told the group “no gifts,” but that request isn’t always observed. I was grateful to have the eight guests at our table. All I wanted from Tom was to host the dinner for ten, including drinks, bottles of wine, and other beverages, meals, and tips. Dawn served complimentary shooters after dinner. The entire bill with everything included was US $291.64, ZAR 4418!!! There is nowhere in the world that we could host ten people for this reasonable cost with exceptional food, drinks, service, and ambiance.

The restaurant usually closes at 8:30 pm, 2030 hrs, on Sundays. After a delightful evening of lively conversation and endless laughter, we all didn’t leave until 10:00 pm, 2200 hrs. It couldn’t have been more fun!

Even while dining out, wildlife comes to visit. In this case, it was a giant grasshopper on the salt shaker.

Back at the house, we both couldn’t stop reeling over the fun day and evening. I couldn’t wait to start preparing posts with the photos from such a memorable birthday. Thank you to our friends who shared this day with me, with us, and so many of our readers who wrote to extend their birthday greetings. Wow! How lucky am I???

Be well.

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

Fred and Ethel. Fred is lying down. Notice warts on his face, and Ethel is standing behind him. She had no facial warts, typical for females. For more photos, please click here.