An evening on the Crocodile River….Visitors are back after voting day ended…

Tom took this zebra photo early this morning.

This morning I didn’t awaken until 7:30, after a somewhat fitful night. I woke no less than six times, tossing and turning, and when sleep wouldn’t come, I eventually played a game of mindless drivel on my phone. I’m well aware that looking at one’s phone in the middle of the night may exacerbate periods of insomnia. But, for me laying there, unable to sleep only seems to make matters worse.

With a silly matching game on my phone, eventually, I get bored enough to drift off again, often with my phone in my hand and my reading glasses on. Hours later, I may awake in the same position. Overall, on nights like these, I end up getting enough sleep overall and feel fine the next day. Anxiety about not going back to sleep is more frustrating than playing with my phone.

Busy morning in the bush.

Today, at 11:00, Dawn and I will get pedicures at a local spa, where I’ve gone several times in the past, often bringing a friend. Two nail techs work on us simultaneously, and we get done 90-minutes later. It’s an excellent opportunity for “girl talk,” which I always enjoy. Tom will drop me off and pick me up later because the road to our house is too bumpy to ask friends to transport me.

Last night, seven of us arrived at Buckler’s Africa resort at 3:00 pm, 1500 hrs, for river watching and sundowners while overlooking the Crocodile River. We didn’t see much wildlife, but the conversation was lively and entertaining, the food was good (but late in arriving), and by 8:30 pm, we were back at the house.

From left to right, Trevor, Erika, Shakara, and Dawn while we were at Buckler’s Africa on the Crocodile River last night for sundowners and dinner.

This morning, our garden was packed with wildlife, including all of the regulars. As I write this, we have Bad Eye and her three kudu sisters, Broken Horn. Holey Moley, Thick Neck, Spikey, Stringy, and a newly named Sylvia (my mother’s name). When I was pulling up the shade in the bedroom, Thick Neck was standing at the window looking at me. “Good morning, Thick Neck!” I spewed, happy to see him once again.

Each morning before I start the post, I view the photos from the trail cam. It always makes us laugh when we see one photo after another of Thick Neck, hanging around most of the night. We wonder if he ever sleeps. Here are exciting morsels about male bushbuck behavior from this site:

Farmers burn sugarcane crops before harvest to remove the leaves and tops of the sugarcane plant leaving only the sugar-bearing stalk to be harvested.

“Usually most active during the early morning and part of the night, Bushbucks become almost entirely nocturnal in areas where they are apt to be disturbed frequently during the day. When alarmed, individuals react in a variety of ways. When surprised in the open, they sometimes stand still or slowly walk to the nearest cover. Sometimes they will sink to the ground and lie flat or bound away, making a series of hoarse barks.

The Bushbuck is primarily nocturnal, but it is also reasonably active during the day. Half of a Bushbuck’s day is spent standing and grazing. Around dusk, the Bushbuck move toward their night range to feed. The Bushbuck is also the only non-territorial and solitary African antelope, with neither males nor females defending any part of their home range.

Though Bushbuck have small home ranges which may overlap with those of other bushbuck, they are solitary animals, with even females preferring to keep social interactions with their young to not more than a few hours a day. Mature males usually go out of their way to avoid contact with each other.”

Trevor was observing the burning sugar cane from the veranda at Buckler’s Africa.

After three nights of socializing, tonight we’re staying in and will surely enjoy time on the veranda with our wildlife friends, reveling in Mother Nature’s wonders.

Be well.

                                      Photo from one year ago today, November 2, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #224. In Kenya, we were both at ease handling this harmless reptile, fascinated with its pre-historic appeal. For more, please click here.

Its a new day!…Whew!…

Thick Neck/Bad Leg with mud on his horns from digging for food.

If I had to judge how I’d feel based on yesterday, today would not be a good day. But, miraculously, I awoke this morning feeling great with no pain or discomfort at all! How could that be when yesterday, after returning from having my tooth pulled when the anesthetic wore off,  I was in agony and could barely write a word here.

As it turned out, the tooth wouldn’t come out. Dr. Siingh and his assistant had to hold onto me for leverage while he yanked and pulled, only to have a small portion of the tooth come out. This was a tooth that had a root canal a few months ago that continued to hurt. He assumed it was cracked, which didn’t show on the scan.

Several bushbucks were in the garden this morning.

While I lay there wondering what would happen, I could hear him pulling out each of the root canal pins one by one. It was unnerving. Luckily I didn’t feel pain, only lots of pressure and rocking back and forth. Finally, he had to use a drill and a laser to cut away the remnants of the tooth.

Before getting the tooth out, he seated the new crown in another tooth, which went well, requiring no anesthetic. Thank goodness, that is done! It was a relief to have that resolved after the temporary crown kept falling out every few hours over the past week. Eating, drinking, and talking were a challenge.

This morning, Stringy was lying down in the garden.

Finally, the cracked tooth was out, and we were back on our way to Marloth Park from Malalane, a 35-minute drive. I had a wad of gauze in the space, biting down to stop the bleeding. After returning to the house, I had made similar wads using paper towels when we didn’t have any gauze. It didn’t seem as sanitary as gauze, but the bleeding didn’t stop for about two hours.

Then, the numbing agent wore off, and the pain began. It wasn’t perfect. I was climbing the walls. I took the prescribed Advil-type (narcotic free) pills I’d been given but got little relief all evening until finally, exhausted from the ordeal, I konked out, only awakening in pain a few times during the night.

We had to pick up Frank’s seeds from the ground. Otherwise, the bushbucks will eat them.

I’d taken the prescribed medication again before I went to sleep, but it wore off during the night, and when I awoke, it was too soon to take another. Eight hours had to pass. At 5:00 am, I played a game on my phone and drifted off back to sleep amid the discomfort. I awoke at 7:00 am, and much to my surprise, the pain was gone.

Wow! I hadn’t taken the Advil-type tablet since 11:00 pm and haven’t needed to do so today. I guess I’m recovered, just like that! I am thrilled this is over. I was dreading it for days. I haven’t had a tooth pulled in more than 54 years, shortly after my son Richard was born. In “those days,” they said a woman would lose a tooth for each child born, which has since been proven to be a wive’s tale.

Spikey’s horns are growing as he matures.

Tom had a more leisurely first day when two teeth were pulled a few weeks ago, which has since healed. When we return to Marloth Park in 15 months, he’ll see Dr. Singh get implants for both missing teeth, which shows when he smiles. My tooth was the last molar in my bottom right which doesn’t show. There is no point in doing anything about that.

As they say, “It’s hell to get old.” These issues are a by-product of aging, often resulting in problems with teeth and other body parts. But, the alternative? Nah, not so good. It’s the way it is. All we can do is continue to strive to take good care of ourselves in every possible way, some of which are easier to do than others.

In one way or another, I’m looking forward to leaving for the US again in 37 days. The roads where we’ll be staying in Apache Junction are level, allowing us to go for daily walks easily. Also, it seldom rains in the desert, and the weather will be comfortable and sunny most days during the winter months.

Regardless of how hard it is to leave Marloth Park, I keep reminding myself of the good parts we’ll enjoy being back in the US for a total of four months. And, of course, we’ll be looking forward to our future itinerary as we now consistently add to the list.

Have a happy, healthy, and fulfilling day!

Photo from one year ago today, September 14, 2020:

One year ago, this photo was posted in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #175. We were fortunate to see many rhinos while in the Maasai Mara in 2013. For more photos, please click here.

Our bag is supposed to arrive today…We’ll see how that goes…I made a mistake about Tiny…

Little and his newly adopted family stop by for another visit. Pellets on the menu!!!

When we packed that duffel bag while still in Nevada, we included five new pairs of shoes for both of us. I tossed all my old shoes in our hotel room that Id replaced with the three new pairs, leaving me with only two spare worn-out pairs of shoes. Tom did the same, and now he, too, has only two pairs of shoes left.

If we don’t get that bag today as promised by United Airlines, we are up a creek when it comes to shoes. None of these brands and styles can be replaced here in South Africa. Our only option would be to buy them online in the US and have them shipped to us via DHL for more exorbitant costs.

Mom and Baby bushbuck which was born while we were gone. She is so tiny!

We also had our toiletries, including two Braun electric toothbrushes, newly ordered boxes of our business cards, new insulated mugs, and drink koozies, all valued at over US $25, ZAR 365, each, none of which are available for purchase in South Africa.

Also included were several new clothing items and underwear we both desperately needed. Do we trust that the bag will arrive? Not really. We’ll be pleasantly surprised if it does. We arranged for the bag delivered to Louise and Danie’s Info Centre, where they will be all day since the roads to our house might deter a driver from bringing it directly to us.

Baby bushbuck and an older youngster sharing pellets from the container which we use for the bushbucks, to keep the guinea-fowl from stealing all the pellets.

In the interim, we grocery shopped in Komatipoort. We had hoped to go to the liquor store for light wine for me and brandy for Tom but based on the current lockdown in South Africa, liquor sales were suspended from Friday through Sunday, in an attempt to inhibit heavy liquor use over the weekends. When people drink heavily, there are more accidents and injuries, resulting in more of a need for more emergency services and hospital visits during these times of Covid. At least the total ban ended the day after we arrived.

Today was the first time we shopped since our return from the US, although Louise shopped for us for basic supplies on Monday. But, we still needed many items and ingredients for recipes I’d like to make over the next week or two. After today’s extensive shopping we’re probably good for the next ten days, depending on how often we eat out.

Hal and Blue Gnu are coming onto the veranda.

Now, that we’re both rested and recovered from the long travel period from the US to South Africa, we can begin to socialize, starting tonight with a get-together planned for tonight at Jabula to celebrate Gerhard’s birthday. It will be a small group of seven, but tonight, finally, I get to see my dear friend Kathy, who arrived here in the bush a few weeks ago, and Rita and Gerhard, whom we also missed during our time away.

I made a mistake about Tiny. We have not seen him. Instead, I’d mistaken a Tiny look-alike, whom we called The Imposter before we left. In my enthusiasm, I wanted to believe it was him. But, when The Imposter was here with his friend Narrow for quite some time, we both realized it wasn’t Tiny.

We love wildebeest. The expressions on their faces is priceless

Good grief. Not to sound species-specific profiling, but many of the animals do look alike. Often it’s the most subtle of markings and traits that enable us to determine who is who. Although massive, I should have picked it up that The Imposter wasn’t as big as Tiny, nor were the size of warts on his temples.

Now, we wait with bated breath for the real Tiny to return to us. It could be days, weeks or months, or even never. We lost Tusker when we were at the Orange house, and he never returned after Basket scared him away, declaring his territory. A similar scenario could have transpired in the four weeks we were gone. Also, warthogs are often hit by cars on Olifant Road, the main paved road in Marloth Park.

As in the past, Broken Horn stops by each day.

We’ll be sad if Tiny doesn’t return, but we realize this is the bush, and anything can happen to these majestic animals living in the wild.

We hope all of our readers are safe from harm and still managing to cope with the throes of Covid, still facing all of us worldwide.

Photo from one year ago today, July 30, 2020:

This photo is from the year-ago post while in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #129. Check out the size of the fish and steak portions. Tom was craving peanuts, and we added a few packages to the stash. The brats in the bottom right of the photo are gluten, grain, and sugar-free. The total cost for this haul was US $109,38, ZAR 1595. For more photos, please click here.

A repost from five years ago that still reflects our views…

Our new friend, “One-Wart,” is missing a full-sized wart on the right side of his face. Most likely, he was “born this way.,” possibly due to inbreeding. We have no doubt he’ll be a regular.

While I’ve continued to edit past posts due to errors I’ve made over the years, along with other errors as a result of WiFi issues at the time, I stumbled across a post from November 13, 2015, that over five years later, still resonates who we are and what we believe. I hesitated to repost the text, of course, using some new photos from Marloth Park.

Why the hesitation? To avoid redundancy. After all, during the past ten months in lockdown in India, there certainly was plenty of redundancy with dull stories and repeated photos from years past when no new photos were being taken. Thus, if you recall this post, feel free to pass by the text and enjoy the new photos taken in the past 24 hours.

Impalas rarely come to the garden since they are timid around humans. This fellow stops by almost daily.

If, years ago, someone would have told me I had to write a new story 365 days a year for over eight years, relevant to the current times, I’d have laughed and said it was impossible. I’d never be motivated to perform such a task. And yet, here we are, plugging away with the same enthusiasm in preparing our first post published on March 15, 2012. See that post here. It didn’t include a single photo, but over the years, that first post has been one of our favorites, so well describing who we are and what we hoped to achieve in our worldwide travels.

But, this post, which I stumbled upon yesterday afternoon while working on the prior post’s edits, also caught my eye, and I decided to share it again with you today. Our long-time readers may recall this post, or they may not. Our newer readers may never have come across it as they occasionally reviewed the archives, if at all.

This is Dad & Son, who stop by daily to see what’s on the menu.

In essence, this old post is no big deal, but it reflects who we were then and who we are now, which only you, as readers, may decide if we have changed our views over the years. To see the photos from that date, please click here. Please sit back, relax and read this revealing personal exposé we took seriously at the time and do so again now.  Here we go:

“A grain of sand on the beach of life…Who are we?…

Nothing in life is static. No state of being is guaranteed. All we know for certain is tomorrow, a new day will dawn, and tonight a sun will set. Even that eventuality is in question by scientific predictions in the millennium to come or sooner.

When we hear of new planets emerging within our range of perspective at the edges of our universe, our Earth becomes minor and insignificant in the vast expanse of “forever,” a place none of us in this lifetime will ever know.

How do we grasp a news report such as this:

“A rocky Earth-sized planet that circles a small, nearby star could be the most important world ever found beyond the solar system, astronomers say. The planet lies in the constellation of Vela in the southern sky and is close enough for telescopes to observe any atmosphere. It has a procedure that could help spot life on other planets in the future. Named GJ 1132b, the alien world is about 16% larger than Earth, and at 39 light-years distant, is three times closer than any other Earth-sized rocky planet yet found around another star. At that distance, it is hoped that telescopes will be able to make out the chemistry of its atmosphere, the speed of its winds, and the colors of its sunsets.”

Six warthogs, a kudu, and Frank came by, gathering around the braai.

As we simpletons scour the world, the Earth, enraptured by its endless wonders along the way, we are in awe of Earth’s natural evolution, leaving some of the most exquisite scenery in its wake. Imagine the millions of years that no humans were on this Earth even to know it was there.

With predictions that human life as we know it, from a scientific perspective, has populated the Earth for a mere 200,000 years is a “drop in the bucket” in time, a single grain of sand on a beach.

As the Earth has further populated, each one of us has become a grain of sand on another beach of impossible calculations. How many are there now? How many have there been, and how many are there yet to come?

A male bushbuck and a male impala. This species often graze together without incident.

And, within our limited field of vision, we deem ourselves significant and meaningful. Collectively, we matter. Individually, we must seek the power of the masses to hope for change and progression.

It’s easy to hide away in our self-imposed universe, in our geographic sphere, reaching out only to that which is readily available within our grasp. Is it human nature that we tend to cocoon in a limited space and time?

Oh, as I ponder these thoughts, as I write a meaningless timeline of a day in the village as in yesterday’s post, I’m reminded of how tiny our world becomes coupled with our ambitious desire to see as much as the world as we can as the clock ticks loudly and annoyingly. How much time do we have to complete this journey?  And what, within this realm, are we really doing?

After finishing the raw scramble eggs Tom placed in this pan, these two were determined to lap up every last drop.

I don’t know the answer to either of these questions, which in itself is a further reminder of how little power we each have in this world. The mystery.  Is it wrought from a sense of spirituality or simply hard facts? It remains to be seen in this lifetime.

As we continue to explore the significance of every creature on Earth and its interrelated purpose, it’s easy to assume we humans are at the head of the food chain, and yet, life emerged long before we were here.

The cycle of life and the food chain is magical. Every creature’s design is magic, and none of this could happen from an explosion of planets, remnants evolving into worlds, remnants growing into the Earth.

Ms. Tortoise made a brief appearance, moving quickly through the bush.

A power, a spirituality beyond our comprehension, created this magical life on this planet. As we travel, we witness the vast array in which each population has formed their perception of “who” and “what” this may be. They call it religion, faith, and spirituality in a manner they can most easily grasp and incorporate into their beings.

We don’t choose to see ourselves as self-serving individuals lost in a sea of “vacation,” “holiday,” and travel options. We see ourselves, all of us, you and us, as on a long journey of personal discovery in pursuit of the answers to our own relevant questions, whether we travel the world or sit back in an armchair, hoping to find answers, if not in this lifetime but perhaps in the next.”

She cracked open the egg by pounding it on the cement, sucking out the contents. Animals using tools, fascinating!

This morning upon arising, no less than ten helmeted guinea-fowl were on the veranda hoping for seeds. Once they left, francolins, Frank, and The Misses were looking in the glass of the veranda’s sliding door, wondering when we’d be coming out to toss some bird seeds. It took us no time at all.

Life is good. We have WiFi, power, and the high today will only be 92F, 33C, as we wait in anticipation of who may come to call in the next 12 hours, as we embrace our surroundings in the bush.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 30, 2020:

Five years ago in 2016, we spent three months in New Plymouth, New Zealand, living on an alpaca farm. In the early evening, a group of the babies got together to play, running through the paddock, making us laugh over their playful antics. For the year-ago post, please click here.

Pig on the porch!!!..Pig in a pond!!!…Package problem…Persistence paid…

If you look carefully, you can see Little Wart Face running from the veranda. It was raining, and he climbed the slippery steps to see if we’d come outside and give him some pellets. Of course, the minute I stepped out to take the photo, he ran down the steps, sliding down.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Mr. Bushbuck’s injured leg seems to be healing.  He could barely walk a few weeks ago but is limping now. He certainly doesn’t look as if he’s been starving.  When an animal is injured, we residents of Marloth Park tend to feed the wounded animal extra food to aid their recovery.

On May 28, 2018, we ordered a box of supplies to be shipped to Marloth Park. We’d expected it to take a few months, not four months after all was said and done.

We had lots of muddy pig footprints on the veranda after he left. We didn’t scold him for coming up. We were laughing hard.

There was no less than ZAR 17731 (US $1200) in supplies in that box, and based on poor postal service in South Africa, there wasn’t insurance available, as is the case in many countries when packages are sent through the postal service.

He considered coming back onto the porch (veranda) after we placed a few pellets as shown, but he was scared to death after his slippery descent.

The cost to ship the package from the US to Marloth Park via (USPS) postal service was ZAR 2660 (US $180). Had we used UPS, Fed Ex, or DHL, the cost jumped to ZAR 7092 (US $480). At the time, we didn’t want to spend so much on the shipping. Lesson learned.

Here it is, folks. We’re saying this out loud for the world to see. We will never send another package of supplies from the US unless we can use UPS, Fed Ex, or DHL for fast delivery and insurance. The aggravation over these past months wasn’t worth it.

At first, we spotted Medium Wart Face sitting in the cement pond. By the time I grabbed the camera, he’d already begun to climb out.

According to tracking information, the package arrived in Johanessburg, where it went through customs and was released for transport on June 6th, exactly four months ago today.

He managed to climb out OK, shook off, and came up to the veranda to ask for more pellets.

What transpired from there was a comedy of errors. First, there was a strike in June, and all packages that had arrived in Johannesburg and were sent to Pretoria for processing came to a standstill.

After dozens of phone calls made by Louise and us, we discovered the box was sitting in a shipping container in Pretoria with thousands of other undelivered packages. Everything was at a standstill even after the strike ended in June.

Four Girls and Dad & Son stopped by at the same time. Overall, they got along fine, although the girls rendered a few kicks their way, and Dad gently prodded with his horns.

After writing a highly assertive letter to several postal service officials about a week ago and ultimately connecting with a top official who responded to my assertive letter, a kindly official went into action demanding staff find the box in its specific container and get it to us.

Zebras have such interesting markings as this black and white circle on her back.

We met our kindly contact person at Marloth Park’s Gate 2, who handed over the package this morning. We paid the customs fees of ZAR 385 (US $26) along with a hefty “token of appreciation,” which may have been instrumental in expediting the situation. 

Regardless of the circumstances and the costs, we’re relieved to have the package. Everything inside the box was intact as we’d expected. We met the helpful driver/postal service employee at the gate and brought the package back to the house.  

As soon as the pellets and veg start thinning out, they start staring at us, asking for more.

There was even a long-expired credit card (April 2018) in the box and our new health insurance cards from Healthcare International. I’d forgotten I had ordered a ton of my favorite tee-shirts I so desperately needed when all that I currently own have holes in them.  

Even Little Miss Bushbuck has learned to use those soulful dark eyes to let us know she wants more.

There were so many items in the box we needed, and we’re thrilled to have it all unpacked and put away. We won’t be purchasing any more supplies until we arrive in the US in five months, where we’ll replenish anything we may need.

As for today’s photos, we realized we planned not to spend much time on warthogs, my favorite animals in the wild. However, these hilarious characters are worthy of posting photos and sharing stories from time to time.  Bear with us as we laugh out loud over recent antics in the garden.  

Although not all are shown in this photo, we had six bushbucks in the garden simultaneously, a record for us.

Tonight we’re off to Jabula for socialization and great food. Tomorrow, we’ll be back with plenty more.

Enjoy the day, the evening, and a good night’s rest.

Photo from one year ago today, October 6, 2017:

View from the veranda during the tropical depression in Costa Rica. The clouds were so low they were ground level in the valley.  For more photos, please click here.