The quietude of the bush has returned….Lovely human visitors…

This is Marigold. She visits daily.

I’ve been sitting outside for the past 20 minutes, and not a single car has passed on the dirt road adjoining our holiday rental. We are situated on a stand (lot) that borders a dirt road, often used by tourists when going to and from their various holiday homes. Today, there are none.

Yes, many homeowners in Marloth Park live here year-round. The last I heard, it was about 800. The remainder of the houses and resorts are rented during the busy holiday times. But, many holidaymakers rent homes over the weekends and the week during regular times.

This is Spikey. He always jumps over the fence for his pellets since he doesn’t like sharing with Lollie, our resident pig.

We are happy for our friends that own and manage houses, such as Louise and Danie, when they are busy now, especially after the horrible slowdown during the pandemic. Currently, petrol prices keep many holidaymakers away, and international travelers are still uncertain about flying with many restrictions and protocols.

We were delighted this morning at 10:00 am when Louise’s parents, Estelle and Johan, stopped by to see us. We love this lovely couple and have seen them each time they visit Louise and Danie from their home in Cape Town, South Africa. Louise is younger than most of our children, so they are only a little older than us.

Spikey, eating a piece of lettuce.

It’s always wonderful to see them once again. Their primary language is Afrikaans, but they speak English quite well. The conversation flowed with ease, and we had an excellent chat. Indeed, we’ll see them again during their month-long stay here, which we’re both looking forward to.

I can’t believe Rita and Gerhard will be here on July 30th. They’ll need a day or two to recover from their long journey, and then we’ll all be together again. We’re invited to Alan and Fiona’s bush house this Saturday for sundowners. It will be fun to see the two of them again.

Tom was feeding a few Big Daddies.

The last time we saw Alan and Fiona, about a month ago, they came here for sundowners at 4:30 pm, 1600 hrs. and stayed until after midnight. There’s never a shortage of conversation with this fun couple. We love our social life here, and over the next few months, it will pick up as more and more friends come to the park.

Due to the excessive load shedding, we’re trying to use the frozen items we have on hand as much as possible. We are tired of worrying about food in the refrigerator and freezer spoiling during extended power outages. The 2½ hour load shedding periods usually don’t cause food to spoil, but on many occasions, the outages last longer when power poles are knocked down, or the equipment is vandalized or stolen.

Big Daddy, Norman, Lollie, Rueben, and Busybody were sharing pellets.

It was only a few days ago; the power was out for almost 12 hours. Also, due to load shedding, major appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines can stop working or have issues working properly, which are both problems at our house. We’ve found that unplugging the appliances for a while or even 24 hours seems to reset them to start working correctly again.

But, this requires completely emptying the refrigerator, which is bothersome and time-consuming. Hopefully, we don’t have to do that too many more times.  News popping up that load shedding may come to a halt soon, but nothing is being done to warrant these news reports. We shall see.

Four Big Daddies were in the garden.

Soon, we’ll head out to the little market for a few items we need to round out some dishes we’ll be preparing in the next several days while using up some of the meat in the freezer. Otherwise, it will be a quiet day in the bush, as we’re only distracted by the endless stream of wildlife visitors who come to call.

Be well.

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

My breakfast at the Lucky Penny Restaurant at the Green Valley Ranch Resort and Sa in Henderson, Nevada, consisted of flourless egg-white wraps containing chicken, avocado, and cheese, topped with pickled onions. Delicious! 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.

Getting into the groove…It’s heavenly…Plans for our August visa run revealed!!!…

This female kudu jumped over the fence to see if the “grass was greener.” We don’t feed them when they jump the fence so they’ll avoid eating the grass and vegetation which is newly seeded and planted.

Wow! It’s Thursday morning on a perfect weather day. It’s cool, the sun is shining, and we’re comfortably ensconced at the table on the fantastic veranda. We’re feeling so much better today. The gastro issues are gone. The awful feeling of exhaustion from Covid-19/Omicron continues to improve daily, and we’re almost back to our old selves.

The sights and sounds in the bush are making us both smile. Birds are singing, screeching, and flying overhead. As I write this, the same five kudus, including a baby, have been hanging around for the past few hours. We named Pushy a very bossy warthog since he growls when we don’t give him pellets fast enough. He makes us laugh. We can’t help but respond to his goofy personality.

Bushbucks are sharing pellets with a warthog.

There are a few “Spikey’s” hanging out, young bushbucks with tiny horns, and one of our old favorites, Stingy, from our old house, 2 kilometers, 1.2 miles away. He responded to his name, and we recognized him for the markings and size of his horns, which are always muddy from digging up roots. Indeed, we’ll see some of our old animal friends in time, but it’s easy to welcome new friends when they are so adorable.

Gosh, this feels good. Tom is streaming Garage Logic on his laptop. we’re sipping on ice tea in the big mugs Louise gave us a few days ago, and we’re snacking on chunks of delicious aged cheddar cheese and a fine quality ham. Dinner is made for tonight’s meal, and I’ve already done two loads of laundry.

A Mom and Baby bushbuck partaking in some pellets.

Danie arranged for a plumber to come today since the water at the kitchen sink wasn’t hot enough for washing dishes. There’s no dishwasher here. Tom did all the dishes but quickly became frustrated when the water wasn’t satisfactory for sanitizing the dishes. As soon as we mentioned this issue to Louise, she and Danie were all over it and the plumber arrived this morning to make the necessary repairs. By tonight’s dinner Tom should be able to do the dishes in hot water. The remaining faucets in the house are fine.

With our plans set for the necessary visa run on August 20, as of two days ago, we have peace of mind and can relax until then. We definitely decided that neither of us feel up to any long flights and layovers to go far away. We’ve decided to head back to Zambia.

An adorable baby bushbuck.

Once we arrive at the small airport in Livingstone, our former tour guide Chris will pick us up at the airport and drive us to the rive where four countries intersect, the only such place in the world. We’ll take a little boat across the river to the other side to Botswana where a guide will meet and take us through immigration, and then to Chobe Safari Lodge, where we stayed a few times in 2018.

Each time we were at the resort and went on safari, we longed to spend more time there. This time, we’ve booked five nights at the lodge and two nights at the Protea Hotel to round out an entire week we’ll have been away, hopefully long enough to satisfy South African immigration to give us a new 90-day visa stamp.

Three bushbucks are sharing pellets. Now that we’re back to using the camera, we’ll zoom in more for better shots.

Fortunately, the flight to Zambia is non-stop on Airlink in Nelspruit and is less than a two-hour flight, making the trip easy for us. We’ll pick up a new rental car when we return to Nelspruit, and the 90-day clock will begin once again. But, 70+ days later, we’re heading to Athens. At the end of the cruise from Athens, we’ll return to Cape Town South Africa, about 45 days later.

We are thrilled with this plan. It’s easy, affordable, and less work than applying for another visa extension which we may have to do again sometime down the line. But, this one trip and the cruise take us to March 2023, when again, we’ll leave South Africa for a while to explore other options. All of this, of course, is based on travel restrictions because the pandemic is not over.

There are several Mom and Baby bushbucks. Soon, we’ll identify features and start naming them.

So, God willing, we’re back to life as we knew it, comfortable and content to be here, feeling well, enjoying our animal and human friends. Life is good, once again.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, June 2, 2021:

Little Daddy comes to call. As a youngster, he certainly knows how to give the “look,” indicating he’s up for some pellets. 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.

Avocados, popular in South Africa…Finally found a solution to ripen them quickly…More trail cam sightings!

Here are the remaining eight small avocados from a bag of ten we purchased a few days ago.

Why would a travel-related site write about avocados? I could say that regardless of where we live, we have to eat. But, in this case, it’s more about cultural interests, agriculture, and the diet of those who prefer to eat certain nutritious foods. Avocados are among this group in South Africa.

Certain food items are impossible to find as we’ve traveled the world. If they are available, they are costly and often difficult to ripen. In many cases, I’ve left avocados on the counter, hoping they’d soften in a few days, only to be disappointed when they don’t ripen at all or are tough and tasteless when they do soften sufficiently to cut and eat.

We’re always thrilled to see the porcupine photos the following day.

South Africa is 12th in the world in avocado production s indicated on this site, as listed below:

“Statistics of Avocado Production

The export estimate for the 2019 season from March to October is 14.5 million of 4 kg cartons, which amounts to 58 000 tons. Derek Donkin, CEO of the South African Subtropical Growers’ Association (Subtrop), estimates that the total crop of 2019 will be 110 000 tonnes. This includes local, export, and fruit sold for processing into an avocado puree and oil.

Future production of avocados in South Africa is expected to grow with an additional 1000 ha – 1500 ha to be planted annually for at least the next five years from 2019 onwards. Exports should exceed 20 million cartons at this growth rate and will expand as long as the industry grows.

Is this a young porcupine with undeveloped quills?

The bulk of new plantings in South Africa is the black-skinned Hass and Hass-type avocados. New green-skinned avocados are aimed at either the early or late local market.

The informative ‘Avocado Market – Growth, Trends, and Forecast 2019-2024’ report estimates an increase in avocado consumption in China. Already in 2017, China imported 22% more than the previous year. China imports avocados mainly from Chile, Mexico, and Peru, all three countries having beneficial terms of trade with China.

World Production of Avocados

Approximately 76% of avocados are produced in the Americas, 11% in Africa, 9% in Asia, and 2% in both Europe and the South Pacific. Mexico is the world’s biggest producer of avocados, with an approximation of 1.5 million tonnes out of global production of 3.2 million tonnes as of 2018.

Tom was standing in the doorway to the veranda when he spotted the genet.

South America, Colombia, Brazil, Chile, and Argentina are the large producers of avocados, with Peru exporting 60% of South America’s volume. Colombia’s plantings are growing faster than South Africa’s, with 1 500 to 2 000 ha planted each year. Colombia has also become the largest exporter of Hass avocados in the world.

In Africa, avocado producers include South Africa at 120 000 tonnes; Kenya produces an estimation of 80 000 tonnes, Tanzania and Zimbabwe each has 5 000 tonnes, and newcomer Mozambique is at 1 000 tonnes.

Other countries producing avocados include the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Madagascar, Mauritius, Madeira, the Canary Islands, southern Spain, and southern France, as well as Sicily, Crete, Israel, and Egypt.

South Africa’s Avocado Exports

Between 45 and 50% of South Africa’s avocados are exported, and 10 – 15% is processed into oil and pulp. The rest is sold locally. The main importing countries of South African avocados are Europe – particularly the Netherlands, France and Spain, the UK, and the Baltic states at 95%. Small volumes are exported to Africa, the Middle East, and Hong Kong.

Is this genet going to become a regular visitor to our garden at night? Most likely, it will, especially when we put out some meat.

South African industries and government are negotiating market access to the USA, mainland China, and Japan. Currently, strict phytosanitary requirements limit access to these markets. Peru, as another southern hemisphere producer, is South Africa’s most serious competitor, both in volume and timing, for the supply of avocados into northern hemisphere markets.”

As a result of how prolific avocados are in South Africa, I often buy a bag of small avocados, the Haas dark skin variety. I have had nothing but a good experience every time. The typical cost for the bag of ten small avocados is usually under US $5.00, ZAR 77.

When purchasing one of these bags, all of them are hard and unripened. I always plan to ensure they are soft and ready to eat when I buy them. In a perfect world, I have one of these small-sized avocados in my salad each night, but I have to plan to accomplish this based on when we shop and when we’re dining at home.

One day, a few months ago, I placed two avos on the window sill. They weren’t in direct sunlight, but it’s warmer there. By the way, I never refrigerate avos unless I’ve only eaten half and plan to have the other half the next day. Avo lovers know so well that they don’t keep well after peeling. They are ready to eat within 36 hours of placing the small avos on the window sill. I always have sufficient ripe avos and never waste by this process.

Years ago, I read that if you store a portion of the avo with the pit in a sealed container, it will keep for a few days. Although I rarely leave half of these small avos, I’ve tried this, and it seems to work well for 24 hours when refrigerated.

As for nutrition, avocados are ideal for my way of eating, as indicated below:

“Mini Avocados contain 4g total carbs, 1g net carbs, 8g fat, 1g protein, and 80 calories.” What is a “net carb?” Some low-carb/keto enthusiasts deduct fiber from the total carbs. I tend to count the total carbs rather than subtract the fiber since it’s easy to overeat the number of carbs you’ve chosen to consume each day when counting this way.
I recall paying as much US $2.99, ZAR 46, for one large avo. Sure, on occasion, when I’d make guacamole for a party, I could find ample ripe avos at the market. However, making a good-sized batch of guac can require as many as ten large avocados. That was one pricey dip!
This morning for breakfast, I had one of those ripe little avocados with a one-ounce chunk of cheddar cheese, a slice of gluten-free deli chicken meat with a dollop of homemade salad dressing for dipping. What a treat!. Of course, Tom doesn’t care for avocados and never eats them alone or in a dish.
As for today, at 3:30, we’re meeting Rita, Gerhard, Petra, Fritz, Louise, and Danie outside their office to be picked up by a guide in a safari vehicle as we head out to Kruger National Park on safari, ending in “dinner in the bush,” all to celebrate Rita’s birthday! Today, we’ll wear our “bugs away” clothing in the open vehicle hoping to deter the mozzies from biting.
Tomorrow, we will be back with photos of today’s adventure, hopefully with plenty of photos to share, including photos of the food from our bush dinner.
Be well.

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

Within minutes of arriving back in Marloth Park, we were gifted with this amazing sight. Love these! For more, please click 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.

Our 9-year travel anniversary!!! Our new itinerary!!!…

Selfie of us in India in February 2020, before lockdown, excited to be on our way to the palace and Lake Pichola in Udaipur, India.

Here it is, October 31, 2021, a date celebrating Halloween in some countries but not here in South Africa. There won’t be any trick or treaters at our door tonight. Instead, we’ll celebrate. Differently, the ninth anniversary of the day we began our journey.

Last night, we had guests for sundowners, Carrie and Jim, who are much younger than us, in their 40s, who’ve been living a lifestyle almost exactly like ours. Their journey began in 2019. They arrived at 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs, and didn’t leave until 10:30, 2230 hrs, undoubtedly indicative of the similar stories we had to share.

We’ve met a lot of world travelers over the years, but Carrie and Jim’s story was oddly most similar. We’d been to a number of the same places, experienced the same challenges, and like us, they’ve come away, hungry for more. The tremendous benefit they have is youth. With their resiliency and determination, they may continue for decades. One never knows, which we all agreed, how long we’ll choose to continue on this path or if our health in some manner prevents it.

The two of us, nine years ago, at Tom’s retirement party, about one week before we began our travels.

Last night, we were shocked when it rained in buckets, eventually turning into hail. We’d never seen hail in Marloth Park. Such an oddity for the bush. We were relieved our rental car was parked under the carport roof, free of any potential damage. The hail lasted about five minutes, but the pounding rain continued for about an hour.

At one point, we had to go inside the house when the wind was blowing, and we were all getting wet. The delightful conversation continued as we shared story after story of our travels and similarities. Surely, we’ll see them again before they leave Marloth Park on December 1st.

But, now today, as we celebrate our ninth anniversary with dinner guests coming again at 4:00 pm, we’re excited to share this special day/evening with friends Alan, Fiona, Nick, and Joan.

Today, I spent the entire morning in the kitchen, and now at almost noon, I have only a few items to fuss over once they arrive. The starters, the salad, the entree, and the vegetables are prepared except for last-minute cooking, leaving me free to spend time with our guests on the veranda while sipping our wine and drinks and enjoying the wildlife.

Without a doubt, we anticipate another enriching day in the bush. As I write here now, two Big Daddies came to call. The larger of the two ate an entire half of a massive head of cabbage before our eyes. His adeptness at breaking up the huge chunk into bite-sized pieces was a delight to see.

So, folks, here it is, our new itinerary, as promised, posted on our anniversary. Yes, there are several holes we have to fill in time, most of which will be dictated by how Covid-19 rolls out over the next few years. However, if the situation improves, even a little, we’ll be excited to fill in the gaps with fantastic adventures and visits to some new (to us) and different countries we’ve yet to explore.

The future looks bright for all of us world travelers, as long as we stay the course, maintain a positive attitude, manage our health and well-being and continue to strive to see those unique places on this planet that calls to us.

Marloth Park, South Africa Holiday rental 85 10/31/2021 1/23/2022
Flight – Nelspruit, South Africa to Tampa, Florida Travel Day 1 1/23/2022 1/24/2022
Florida -visiting friends, traveling thru state Travel 74 1/24/2022 4/8/2022
Cruise – Fort Lauderdale to South Hampton – Trans Atlantic Celebrity Silhouette 13 4/8/22 4/21/22
 UK – TBD Holiday rentals 68 4/21/22 6/28/22
Flight – UK to Istanbul, Turkey Hotel 1 6/28/22 6/29/22
Cruise – Istanbul to Istanbul – Black Sea Azamara Onward 11 6/29/22 7/10/22
Cruise – Istanbul to Athens – Greek Islands Azamara Onward 10 7/10/22 7/20/22
Europe – Non-Schengen countries Holiday rentals 111 7/20/22 11/7/22
Flight to Athens Hotel 1 11/7/22 11/8/22
Cruise – Athen to Athens – Middle East, Israel, Egypt Azamara Journey 11 11/8/2022 11/19/2022
Cruise – Athens to Lisbon – Mediterranean Azamara Journey 10 11/19/22 11/29/22
Cruise – Lisbon to Cape Town – West coast of Africa Azamara Journey 21 11/29/22 12/20/22
Flight – Cape Town to Nelspruit, South Africa Travel Day 1 12/20/22 12/20/22
Marloth Park, South Africa Holiday rentals 90 12/20/22 3/19/23
Africa travel – TBD Holiday rentals 132 3/19/23 7/29/23
Flight – Africa to Edinburough/Leith, UK Travel Day + Hotel 3 7/29/23 8/31/23
Cruise – Leith to Amsterdam – Norway, west coast Azamara Journey 17 8/1/23 8/18/23
Total Days 660

Yes, 660 possible days into the future, some planned, some not planned. But, only time will tell and guide us into the following number of years, God willing.

Be well. Be happy. Step outside the box!

Photo from one year ago today, October 31, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #222. With no photos of us on our travel anniversary in the past few years, we posted this photo from October 31, 2017, our fifth anniversary of traveling the world, taken on the veranda at the villa in Atenas, Costa Rica. For more photos from one year ago, please click here.

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

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

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

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

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

Baby poses by a big rock.

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

Band of mongoose…

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

Wildebeest Willie came to call…

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

Mongoose is trying to crack an egg we offered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rain, at long last…Few visitors last night…Today is Women’s Day in South Africa, a national holiday…

Wildebeest Willie is drinking from the cement pond.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

It’s a little bit challenging finding a comfortable position when you have razor-sharp tusks!

Miraculously, last night it rained and continues to drizzle throughout the day. It’s cold again, today as low as 13C (55F), and after the scorching day recently, this feels very cold. Thank goodness for the outdoor heat lamp that enabled us to stay outdoors last night and will again tonight. It makes all the difference in the world.

As for last night’s visitors, we were pleasantly surprised when no less than eight warthogs, some we didn’t know, stopped by to say hello and check out the pellet situation. It was pretty good, they observed.

View of the Crocodile River from the overlook.

A short while later, several bushbucks and two duikers, female and male, all of whom we do know, appeared, anxious to get in on the action. It was easy for us to help them participate. 

We got up to feed them several times during dinner, leaving our dinners to get cold. This is such a common practice. We no longer mind a bit. Now, chilled to the bone, we’re still sitting outdoors while the drizzle continues hoping to see more and more vegetation turn green for the wildlife. It’s a happy occasion in the park today.

Three little pigs…not so little…Mom and babies eating pellets at the bottom of the steps, intended for Ms. Bushbuck.

We thought it is important to mention that instead of frequently apologizing for late postings, in the future, please plan to see a post between the usual posting time and five hours later. We’re so busy here in Marloth Park. We often head out on mornings to shop, go to Kruger, or head out on a drive, especially when we see notices posted on Facebook on unusual sightings.

As much as it seems we may have idle time, we’re swamped each day with only a few idle hours in the late afternoon. I’m sure this is the case with many retirees. How did we ever manage to have a “regular” job and get anything done?  

Croc lounging on the bank of the Crocodile River.

We’ve often heard retirees make such comments as “I’m busier now than when I worked.” I suppose it’s no different for us when each day we strive to engage in more fodder for the next day’s stories and photos, have a social life, cook most of our meals while spending the bulk of each day interacting and observing wildlife.

Tom says, “Being retired, I get up every day with nothing to do, and by noon, I’m three hours behind.” Hahaha, so true.

Three zebra butts.

Add the fact we spend at least three to four hours each day preparing a post, proofreading, taking and managing photos, and coordinating photo ops for future posts. It’s surprising to us that we have any time at all left for frivolity. But, we make sure we do.

So, for now, we’re back from shopping for the next week until we depart for Zambia and Botswana next Thursday. We’ve eaten almost everything in the big freezer except for two boxes of fish we recently purchased from the traveling “fish guy.”  

Little Wart Face often naps in our garden.  He’s so at home here.

If the power goes out for an extended period while we’re gone, Lousie and Danie will rescue the fish and other frozen items in the fridge’s freezer and put it all on ice.No worries.

Today, when we drove to Komatipoort to shop, we noticed the pharmacy was closed at 10:00 am. While at the Vodacom store purchasing my new phone (more on that tomorrow), the sales staff stated that due to Women’s Day in South Africa as a national holiday, the pharmacy would open for only one hour. How weird was that?

Vervet monkey on a rock on the bank of the river.

For details on this holiday, see below from this link:

National Women’s Day
National Women's Day.jpg
Women in Lesotho at a National Women’s Day protest against violence against women at the National University of Lesotho
Observed by Republic of South Africa
Date 9 August
First time 9 August 1995

“National Women’s Day is a South African public holiday celebrated annually on 9 August. The day commemorates the 1956 march of approximately 20,000 women to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to petition against the country’s pass laws that required South Africans defined as “black” under The Population Registration Act to carry an internal passport, known as a pass, that served to maintain population segregation, control urbanization, and manages migrant labor during the apartheid era.

The first National Women’s Day was celebrated on 9 August 1994. On 9 August 1956, more than 20,000 South African women of all races staged a march on the Union Buildings against the proposed amendments to the Urban Areas Act of 1950, commonly referred to as the “pass laws.” In 2006, a reenactment of the march was staged for its 50th anniversary, with many of the 1956 march veterans.

The march was led by Lilian Ngoyi, Helen Joseph, Rahima Moosa, and Sophia Williams. Other participants included Frances Baard, a statue unveiled by Northern Cape Premier Hazel Jenkins in Kimberley (Frances Baard District Municipality) on National Women’s Day 2009. The women left 14,000 petitions at the office doors of prime minister J.G. Strijdom.

The women stood silently for 30 minutes and then started singing a protest song composed in honor of the occasion: Wathint’Abafazi Wathint’imbokodo! (Now you have touched the women, you have struck a rock.). In the years since, the phrase (or its latest incarnation: “you strike a woman, you strike a rock”) has come to represent women’s courage and strength in South Africa.”

Moms and babies.

What an important day for South African women! We wish the very best for every woman as they are reminded of this critical period in time to celebrate together.

We’d heard about this important day of celebration but had no idea some stores would be closed or open for only short spans of time. After keeping an eye out, we managed to get into the store during the one-hour-open period and purchase a few toiletries for our upcoming trip.

Five waterbucks and lots of elephants near the river.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with photos from Tom’s new haircut and the story of purchasing a new smartphone in South Africa, where there certainly are a few differences from buying in the US.

Have a spectacular day!

Photo from one year ago today, August 9, 2017:

The view of the main pool from the master bedroom in the villa in Costa Rica. These sliding doors and others on an adjacent wall open wide with fine screens to keep out insects. It was such a treat for us to have screens! For more photos, please click here.

Friendly South African braai in the wild among new friends and the beasts…Frikkie’s Dam, Lionspruit…

Such a funny thing (to us anyway), an oxpecker on this giraffe’s nose.
We were so close to this giraffe it was easy to get this photo.
After exiting Lionspruit, we spotted this giraffe on the opposite side of the fence. We noticed an oxpecker on his nose.
“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”
A Vervet monkey in a tree in the yard.

How do we begin to tell the story of friendship and hospitality that surrounds us in South Africa…in Marloth Park? Sure, we’ve met wonderful people all over the world, on cruises, during tours, and in neighborhoods, many of whom we’ve stayed in close touch over these past years, many of who’ve become lifelong friends.

The somewhat enclosed braai area offered a barrier between the lions and us in Lionspruit.

We never take for granted the opportunity to meet new people and to build new relationships. Undoubtedly, such friendships take time to cultivate, and when we have time in a location, we relish in these relationships as they mature.

It was a perfect day to be outdoors, not too hot, not too cool.

Some relationships are with couples we meet along the way, and others are individuals with whom we find a particular affinity when meeting one-on-one or in a group. On Sunday, such was the case when Louise and Danie included us in their “inner circle” (my words, not theirs) of people they’ve come to know and love after many years in Marloth Park.

The covered veranda at Frikkie’s Dam provides shelter in the event of rain.

The commonality they share, as Danie described only this morning when he and Louise stopped by, is their “lack of baggage,” the kind that may make some people judgmental, critical, or of a less than warm demeanor and personality. 

From left to right, Danie, Alison, and Dean posed for a photo. Everyone works tirelessly and unselfishly for the preservation of Marloth Park.

Over time, this group was “hand-picked” for the special qualities they each possess in their unique way. What intrigued us the most was how different each individual is, bringing a wealth of great experiences, education, and backgrounds.

From left to right, Nicki, Louise, and Cora.

Many countries are represented in this group of friends…many cultures, many varying walks of life. But, the one passion they each share is their passion and love for Marloth Park and their determination and dedication in contributing, however big or small, in maintaining the integrity that so well defines this magical place.

Andre, Cor, and Tom.

It’s not that other locals are excluded from this group. Luckily, they all came together over time, as friends and ultimately as “family” when many of their family members are so far away.

Andre was one of the first residents of Marloth Park in the 1970s. He and Cor, to his right, are great friends. Michel is to the left.

To be included means a lot to us, as it has been with all of our friends here in Marloth Park. We don’t have South African roots, heritage, and culture in our repertoire of world experiences as many of them do.  Even those from far away places have been here long enough to have wound their lives, their existence around a lifestyle and persona that is unique unto itself, unlike any we’ve encountered in these past years of world travel.

Nicki, Louise, and Cora.

They have so much history together entwined in endless stories that made us both realize, should we have the opportunity to be with them again, that in time we’ll collectively build our own stories, our memories, and our level of inclusiveness that is found in a friendly mélange of locals sharing their lives, their dreams, and their hopes for the future.

Cora, Matthew, Michel, and Andre.

We apologize if we’ve missed including photos and names of everyone present on Sunday’s braai at Frikkie’s Dam. Hopefully, next time, we won’t be so preoccupied with the wonder of it all, failing to include everyone in our photos.

We brought a gluten-free quiche to share.  Louise and Danie cooked meats on the open fire, and others brought their items.

Again, and we mean again, thanks to Louise and Danie and all of our friends in the bush for making this life genuinely feel like “home.” Wherever we may travel in the world, our memories will travel with us…in our hearts, in our minds, and our eternal love of Marloth Park, South Africa.

When we return from Zambia, we plan to meet with Andre to write a story of his over 40 years in Marloth Park. He’s holding a piece of our quiche in his hand.

Happy day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, May 8, 2017:

Aboard the ship, I made a new friend, Helen. She and I decided to visit Lahaina Maui for some “girl time,” leaving Tom behind on the ship while we browsed the shops. It was a great day. For more details, please click here.