Another fabulous evening on the river with friends…

    Two hippos lounging in the Crocodile River.

Note; Please excuse our lack of clarity in today’s photos, taken at dusk and from quite a distance.

With one delightful social event after another, we are reeling from the flurry of activity over these past many weeks. Tonight will be one more enjoyable event with dinner at dear friends Kathy and Don’s home, overlooking the Crocodile River. Soon, they will be leaving to return to their other home in Hawaii. We will miss them.

Many of our friends leave the bush for the holiday season, partly due to other commitments and partly due to avoidance of the heat of the upcoming summer. For some, they leave due to a plan they’ve made to spend many months here and then spend the remainder of the year in their other homes, often located in equally enticing areas.

On average, hippo males weigh 3,500 to 9,920 pounds, 1588 kg to 4500 kg,0, and females weigh 3,000 pounds, 1361 kg.

We’re content we don’t have multiple houses in various locations, leaving us free of concern over upkeep and expenses necessary to maintain another home elsewhere. We love the fact that we don’t have the expense and maintenance of one home anywhere.

Renting holiday homes that include maintenance, utilities, and WiFi costs is a must for us. With nary a thought about how much our utility bills, property taxes, and upkeep costs will be, make our lives all the easier. Oddly, we don’t miss the feeling of being rooted in one location. We never give it a thought.

We realize this life is not for everyone. The only couple we’ve met in years that live like us is Carrie and Jim, who joined us at our house for sundowners over a week ago. After they return from a surprise event for Carrie’s birthday, we’ll be getting together again, meeting at Two Trees on the Crocodile River. The four of us have so many stories to share.

A hippo group is called “bloat.” Often they wander off on their own.

Last evening, we joined Louise and Danie and eight of their family members at the chalet they rented at resort Ngwenya for a week. We were honored to be included for a “family night” and have the opportunity to meet two more of Danie’s grown kids. They were all wonderful. I’d baked two low-carb cheese pies to bring, and they served a wide array of delicious foods and treats.

Not only was it fantastic to commiserate with all of them, all of whom live in South Africa, most from Cape Town. They were all curious about our way of eating, our time spent in lockdown in India, and our overall world travels. They flattered us when saying they hope to travel someday, like us, and of course, we encouraged them to do so if they could.

Another lone hippo, but other members of the bloat are nearby.

When we left, Louise loaded our chill box with a loaf of homemade bread and a popular South African dessert, Brandy Tart, both of which Tom loves and will savor over the next several days.

This morning Tom had the Brandy Tart with his coffee. South African’s love these types of desserts, anything with doughy tarts covered in a caramel-type custard sauce. It’s quite the go-to dessert in South Africa. Of course, I’ve never tasted it, but Tom said it was fantastic this morning with his coffee.

We were fortunate to take some good hippo photos last night from the veranda on their place in Ngwenya. The views from the veranda were outrageous!

This afternoon is easy peasy. It is hot again today but only with a high of 90F, 32C. We can easily handle that without even noticing. It’s funny how we’ve adapted to the hot weather as it’s gradually heated up. Next month and January will be another story.

Have a pleasant day wherever you may be.

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

Tom’s beautiful bird photo, a small Green Parrot in Costa Rica in 2017. This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day # 233. For more photos, please click here.

It’s over!!!…Done! Done! Done!…

Waterbucks are pretty animals that live at the edge of a body of water.

The freedom I feel today is almost more exciting than the day I decided to retire. Ending the tedious task of spending eight hours a day or more working on my computer for my then business wasn’t nearly as gratifying as now. I am officially done with the corrections after spending the better part of every afternoon for the past year.

The idea of being free in the afternoons after I finish the new day’s post leaves me wondering how I will spend the newly acquired precious time. We can now go to Kruger National Park with an easy mind, knowing I am not tacking on another day to the end of this daunting task.

Waterbucks, at dusk, on the far side of the Crocodile River.

If I feel like taking a nap in the afternoon, I will be able to do so. If I felt like a nap in the past year, I ignored the need, knowing it would throw me off my regular schedule.  If I want to watch a show that Tom doesn’t like, I can watch it while doing my exercises or folding laundry. I will be able to do so.

No, the posts aren’t perfect. I could probably spend the next year going through them again, finding more errors. But I am letting it go. When new readers visit, they’ll find mistakes. So be it. I don’t have a staff of editors working with me each day, as do big sites, like Amazon, where I seldom find an error. It’s just me.

It was getting dark, impacting the quality of our photos. But, it was delightful to see these lovely animals.

Even with Tom proofreading each day with his laptop’s editing app picking up some errors along with those he finds by reading each word, it still won’t be 100% correct. As I worked my way through them, many posts would require me to re-write them due to WiFi issues when they were posted. That would have extended my work time to two or three more years. I prefer to live my life.

Today, I’m making two low-carb cheese pies (cheesecake, to some) to bring to Louise and Danie’s, where we’re going late this afternoon for sundowners with their visiting family members. We’ve already met most of the eight that are visiting. It will surely be fun! Most likely, I’ll end up doing something productive with this extra time rather than getting caught up in mindless drivel.

A male waterbuck with good-sized horns, taking a drink.

Speaking of good times, we met with Cees and Rina at Amazing Kruger View for sundowners and dinner last evening. We had an excellent evening chatting with them while we watched a bit of activity on the Crocodile River, photos of which are included here today. The food was fine, although not of the caliber of Jabula, where we’ll return on Friday.

It was a busy social week. We’ve had plans every evening except Sunday and Monday. As it turned out, the event at Frikkee’s Dam was canceled on Sunday due to heavy rains over the weekend, The roads in Lionspririt are rougher than here in Marloth Park, and the gates were locked. Instead, we stayed home and have been enjoying the egg casserole we’d make for the event and eating it for breakfast each morning since freezing each day’s portion.

A male impala grazing on vegetation in the bush.

Now, with more time on my hands, I may become motivated to cook unique low-carb dishes. With so many of our friends gone or leaving soon, we’ll probably spend more time on our own than socializing. However, social beings that we are may inspire us to reach out to get involved in more social events.

In either case, I am so content now that this year-long project has ended, and soon I will get to work on the four lengthy SEO (search engine optimization) posts I need to accomplish in the next month. One thing at a time. For the next few weeks, I’m coasting in my freedom!

Happy day!

Photos from one year ago today, November 10, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #232. That morning’s view of Savusavu Bay when the clouds had cleared for a short period. For more photos, please click here.

Flight problems…Crocodile River photos…

This photo was taken from the veranda at Buckler’s Africa Restaurant with several waterbucks in the Crocodile River.

When we booked our flights to the USA a few months ago using a company called, Fareboom, we had nothing but trouble. The various flights along the way were canceled, and we ended up in a scuffle with Fareboom to get our money back. Finally, after a week of back and forth and several pricey phone calls with hours of frustration while on hold for hours, we got it resolved.

Waterbucks, like much other wildlife, huddle close to one another.

This time, a few weeks ago, we found reasonable pricing at the site, eDreams, and alas, we experienced similar frustration. We booked the three flights to Phoenix: Nelspruit to Johannesburg; Johannesburg to Atlanta; Atlanta to Phoenix, and all seemed to be okay. We received confirmation from eDreams and attempted to book our seats.

Waterbucks were lounging in the sand at sunset.

When seats weren’t offered as “available at this time,” we didn’t give it much of a thought. We kept checking back. There have been occasions when we’ve traveled internationally that we haven’t been able to book our seats in advance and had to wait until we arrived at the check-in counter.

After a week passed, we became concerned when we noticed our credit card hadn’t been charged. Last night, at bedtime, I received an email from eDreams stating our flight had been canceled. When checking during this period, we saw their site showed, Your flight is processing.”

More waterbucks on the banks of the river.

During the worst of Covid, everything to do with travel was a mess (and sometimes, still is). Tired and ready to go to sleep, we both decided to wait until morning to rebook using the link on our site for Expedia, a company we’ve trusted and used on many occasions. The only difficulty we’ve had with Expedia was getting a refund from them for a canceled flight (by the airline, not by us), requiring we go to the airline directly to get the refund.

This morning, we rebooked the same flight at the same price, and all went well. We’ve booked our seats for two of the legs of the flights, but we’re never able to book seats in advance for South Africa AirLink, which we’ll fly from Nelspruit to Joburg, a very short flight. These are only obtained at the check-in counter at the time of the flight.

Locals say, “The waterbuck’s behind looks like they just sat on a freshly painted white toilet seat.” Note the two cattle egrets who often hang out with wildlife.

Right now, when verifying our flights with Delta, it appears, the “ticket is processing. We’ll have to keep an eye on this to ensure our flights are booked. Weird, to say the least.

This morning, Tom went to the salon to see about getting in for a haircut, but they were booked, and he’ll return tomorrow morning for his appointment. Tonight, we are heading to Flo and JiJi’s home in Komatipoort for sundowners, which will surely be another fun social evening. Soon, I’ll make an appetizer to bring.

The four of us thoroughly enjoyed the scene before our eyes.

Once again, this morning, the garden was packed with bushbucks looking for “breakfast.” Tom was busy serving them while I showered and dressed for the day. The weather is mild today. Yesterday was 90F, 32C, but today’s high will only be 72F, 22C, for a pleasant balmy day. It’s slightly overcast, with a 0% chance of precipitation, a perfect spring day in the bush.

A gregarious animal, the waterbuck may form herds consisting of six to 30 individuals. The various groups are the nursery herds, bachelor herds, and territorial males.

It’s hard to believe it’s September 1st already how the time has flown since we arrived last January. By the time we leave in October, we’ll have been here for a total of nine months. Without a doubt, we’ll return at some point. For now, we watch and wait to see what happens with our five booked cruises, scheduled over the next almost 11 months. Once we know more about these cruises, we’ll be able to plan for the future.

Have a pleasant “hump day,” everyone, and be healthy.

Photo from one year ago today, September 1, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #162. This is the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial. For more photos, please click here.

Fun outing today…A logical solution for load shedding!..Thanks, Gerhard!…

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 13 warthogs – inc. Little, Lonely Boy, Lonely Girl, Fred and Ethel, and others
  • 12 bushbucks – inc. Chewy, Thick Neck, Bad Leg, Spikey, and others
  • 5 kudus – inc. Bossy, Big Daddy, and others
  • 41 helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 2 Frank and The Misses

Today, Rita and Gerhard are picking us up at 3:00 pm, 1500 hrs., in their newly purchased vehicle, and we’re all heading to the Crocodile River for game viewing, photos, and sundowners. As soon as darkness falls, we’ll head to Jabula for dinner. There’s load shedding tonight from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm, 1900 hrs to 2130 hrs.

Since we’ll be at Jabula for dinner, most likely, it will only be a short time until we have power, when later they’ll drop us off at our bush bouse. We usually sit at the bar for an hour or more and dine around 6:30, 1830 hrs. It’s easy for us to entertain ourselves for several hours.

An oxpecker on the back of a kudu.

Recently, when load shedding ramped up again, I thought we could watch a few shows during the outage to download some movies or TV series. However, after trying several possibilities, I realized how difficult it is to download movies or tv series on a Chromebook.

As mentioned in a prior post, we can no longer use Graboid, a straightforward monthly fee download site. It just doesn’t work for Chromebooks. As it turns out, for the same reasons, Graboid doesn’t work, nor do Hulu downloads, and many others available online. This was frustrating.

Tom’s new device is also a Chromebook; since he disliked Windows 10 so much, he didn’t want to start that up again. Had we known this when we purchased Chromebooks, we undoubtedly would have stayed with Windows 10, although we weren’t keen on that operating system with its weird nuances. So, here we are, with what we have.

This morning, Big Daddy stopped by to see what was on the menu.

Gerhard doesn’t use Chromebook. However, he had read our previous post, where I mentioned our inability to download movies, and he surprised me while we were out to dinner at Bos.Restaurant here in the park. He handed me a flash drive with approximately 50 movies on it from 2016 and 2017, all Academy nominees, and offered to let us download them and return the flash drive to him when we were done.

This way, during power outages, we can watch movies in the dark. How do we do this with no power? Simple. Our Chromebooks have a massive advantage over other operating systems and devices; the batteries may last as long as 14 hours since a recent charge. This was a big motivator for us in choosing Chromebooks.

Of course, playing downloaded movies may reduce the available charged time considerably. But, with the inverter Louise and Danie provided for us in this house, if our laptop or phone’s batteries are low during load shedding, the inverter will recharge them. The inverter kicks in when the power goes out.

At times, bushbucks nibble on these plants in the side yard.

The inverter doesn’t provide enough power for the entire house, only one lamp in the bedroom, two-floor fans, and sufficient ability to recharge our phones and laptops. Nevertheless, it’s all we need during load shedding. So, when Gerhard gave us the movies, I downloaded them onto our external hard drive, which fortunately had enough room for all of them.

Then, a dilemma presented itself. There was no sound in any of the movies, although the video quality was good. Unfortunately, Chromebooks have lousy sound systems. We’d downloaded an app, Ultimate Volume Booster, from the Google store for our regular viewing. It works excellent for Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon but wasn’t available to use for Gerhard’s movies.

Then, I downloaded the app, VLC Media Player, and finally, we had sound, easily adjustable for Tom’s loss of hearing. Next, the challenge was finding all the movies on our two terabytes hard drive that is almost full after adding the movies. I needed to know each movie’s name to find it or spend at least 30 minutes or more scrolling through all the files.

Little and some friends.

Yesterday, on an app on my phone, entitled “Keep,” I created a list of every movie. Once we watch one of the movies, I’ll make a note next to each item, “watched.” That way, we don’t have to recall what we’ve watched. In going through the list of approximately 50 movies, there were 8 to 10 of them I know we’ve already watched. Tom rarely remembers the names of movies or TV series we’ve seen in the past.

Now, when the power is out, I open VLC, type in the name of the movie we’d like to watch (from my phone app), watch it, and mark it as “watched.”  Easy peasy. Of course, all of this took a few hours to set up. But, now, when there’s no power, we have an easy solution to keep us from staring at our phones, playing the same dumb games over and over again. Thanks, Gerhard! We so appreciate the movies!

That’s it for today, folks. We hope that you, too, find workable solutions for the challenges facing you!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today,  June 12, 2020:

After returning from Kruger on a Sunday, we headed to Amaazing River View, Serene Oasis, to watch the sunset and wildlife on the Crocodile River. This waterbuck was busily grazing on the vegetation as we captured his reflection in the river. For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…A memorable evening at the Crocodile River with friends…Our new chairs…

It was quite a sight to see when this elephant sprayed water from his trunk.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 1 wildebeest
  • 13 warthogs
  • 9 bushbucks
  • 7 kudus
  • 89 helmeted guinea-fowls
  • Frank and The Misses
  • 1 duiker
A pair were walking along the bank of the Crocodile River to their following grazing location. Some elephant species, such as the African elephant, will eat up to 300 kilograms of food every day to sustain themselves. In comparison, a human adult will consume around 1.5–2 kilograms of food per day. In the wild, elephants eat mostly grass, wild fruits, twigs, shrubs, bamboo, and bananas.

I forgot to take photos of the new camping/folding chairs that Rita and Gerhard picked up for all of us in Nelspruit. We arrived at the river where I’d intended to take the photos once the chairs were unwrapped and set up, but no more than minutes after we arrived, the wildlife photo ops were so many, I forgot.

We were all busy spotting wildlife and were distracted. Of course, we love the chairs they selected with human-sized chairs for the boys and smaller, more “girlie” chairs for Rita and me. Now, we have chairs we can take anywhere when at some social events, we’re asked to bring our own.

A playful pair across the river.

However, I just recalled that Rita had sent me photos in WhatApp from the store in Nelspruit so now I have added them here, as shown below. I love the little tray on my chair on which to put food and drinks. In our old lives, purchasing such chairs would not be noteworthy. But, in this life, given what little we buy, it was rather fun.

This style is perfect for Rita and me, comfortable, lightweight, and the small table to the right.
It is an ideal chair for men, more comprehensive, and suitable for longer legs.

Once we were all situated, we were squealing with delight over the elephants we spotted across the river. The distance, although quite far from us, allowed me to take the photos included here today. The most incredible thrill of all was when the elephants crossed the river (which we didn’t see) and started munching on vegetation only a short distance from us.

Is it a drink he wants or tossing sand?

As you peruse today’s photos, it’s easy to determine which of our photos were taken across the river and which were taken nearby on our side of the river. Not only did we see numerous elephants, but we also saw several other species, which we’ll share over the next few days.

The trunk is versatile in its ability to serve the elephant’s needs in many ways.

We were so busy checking out the wildlife that by the time darkness fell, we’d hardly had any time to chat. Tonight is Friday, and the four of us are heading to Jabula for dinner for our usual Friday night reservation. Gosh, it’s fun to have a more active social life and continue to enjoy some quiet evenings at our bush house.

Elephants are such majestic animals, mysterious and intelligent.

Yesterday, in Lebombo, we shopped at the market where many locals shop and prices are ultra-low on produce. We purchased two enormous heads of cabbage, two bags of red apples, and a giant bag of carrots. As the bush becomes less abundant for the wildlife, supplementing their diets with fresh fruit and veg is a nice treat.

This could be two siblings born in different years.

Ms. Bossy, our most frequent kudu visitor, was over the moon for all the fresh produce, so much so that she walked right up to me on the veranda while I was seated at the table and stared into my eyes pleading for more. She’s hard for me to resist as she repeatedly licked her lips.

Beautiful bright white, healthy-looking tusks with years of growing to come.

Then, Little showed up, anticipating pellets and looking pleasantly surprised to see the apples and carrots I tossed his way before ever throwing him a single pellet. Warthogs don’t eat cabbage, regardless of how hungry they may be. But, they love carrots and apples, which I cut up into bite-sized pieces.

After feeding the bigger game, including more kudus and wildebeest, I cut up a particular batch of even smaller bits for the bushbucks, who, with their little mouths, can’t handle more significant pieces. Once the pigs leave, hopefully soon, we’ll be able to feed the bushbucks, which the pigs always chase away.

This mom and baby were grazing together on our side of the river.

The hard part is that there is seldom a time there aren’t pigs in the garden, often napping, with one ear tuned to the sound of food hitting the ground. They’ll be on their feet in a matter of seconds when the possibility of food is presented. Tom always says, “That’s why they are called pigs.” I suppose he is right.

Once we returned home last night, we quickly prepared an easy dinner of cheese omelets and bacon when anything else we had on hand would have taken too long to prepare. Since we have no interest in food during sundowners, although we provide snacks for visiting guests, we were starved when we returned.

Later, we watched a few episodes of the Australian series Janet King and finally dozed off to sleep.

It was a good day and an enjoyable evening.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 21, 2020:

We love the reflection of clouds in the water as we drive through the countryside in any country. For more photos, please click here.

Day #241 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…At this point, little things do matter…

We were thrilled to see the huge herd of cape buffaloes on the bank of the Crocodile River.

Today’s photos are from our post on this date in 2018 while living in a bush house in Marloth Park, South Africa. For more details, please click here.

In the realm of things, small incidences we encounter during this overly long stay in a hotel room may seem insignificant and even petty on our part. However, under these trying circumstances, it’s the small dependable things that keep us sane and centered as we strive to stay on an emotional even keel.

A female lion we spotted from Marloth Park’s fence.

Overall, both of us are in good spirits, able to laugh and to be playful. It’s even surprising to us that somehow we’re able to remain hopeful and relatively upbeat after all of this time. Our family, friends, and readers often write to us praising us for “holding it together” under these circumstances, which we appreciate.

But, we take no credit for their kind perception of us “being strong.” We merely are our usual selves always striving to stay positive in the worst of circumstances. The most difficult period during these 241 days has been the loss of my dear sister Susan on August 16, 2020.

Hippos basking in the sun at dusk on the Crocodile River in Kruger National Park.

Feeling such profound grief, while unable to seek the in-person love and support of family and friends made this a particularly difficult time. Tom, who also dearly loved Susan, held me together during the throes of the most imminent grief. I still think of her every day and expect to do so for the remainder of my life. Somehow, I got through the worst of it.

Over this period, I’ve suffered a few bouts of worrisome medical issues, all of which have since resolved, mainly due to my persistence and determination in refining my daily habits and way of eating, based on the fact that food options are extremely limited in our hotel which in itself has been a source of frustration for both of us.

This mom appears very lean after giving birth to this young calf.

If I hadn’t been trying to lose the weight I’d gained since recovering from heart surgery, I could have lost it anyway with the lack of food options and smaller portion sizes available. When I order salmon a few times each week, it can’t be more than four ounces, .11 kg, portions certainly not enough considering I don’t eat the usual side dishes. I need more protein than that in a meal.

Finally, I figured it out if I ordered two butter-fried eggs topped with a little Emmental cheese, four slices of bacon, and the small piece of salmon, I have an adequate amount of protein, which is also enough to fill me up but not too much to stop my weight loss which has gone nicely. (I only have a few more pounds to lose again fit into my jeans).

An elephant and hippos.

Yesterday, we both got our “hair in a bundle” when we noticed that after the cleaner was here, we had two partial toilet paper rolls on the two holders. Both were empty when the cleaner arrived. We’ve noticed that all the toilet paper on the cleaning carts are full-sized, individually paper-wrapped rolls.  Where did the two partial rolls come from?

We both freaked out. This was not the first time this happened. There was no way the two partial rolls came from any other source than leftovers from another hotel room, used in part by other guests. Yikes! Even without COVID-19, the thought of using other guest’s leftover/partially used toilet paper rolls totally sent us both into a frenzy.

Elephants and storks.

Immediately, we contacted the front desk (there’s no direct line to housekeeping) and requested a manager handle this promptly. A half-hour later a housekeeper manager arrived at our door apologizing profusely. When I asked if this was a normal procedure, giving guests other guest’s leftover toilet paper, he was horrified this happened, insisting it would never happen again. We’re tentatively assuming, it won’t.

It’s things like this, after all this time, along with inconsistencies in repeated meals served, that frustrate us the most. When we order the same meal over and over again, it’s different every time, in one way or another.

A waterbuck and Egyptian geese.

Here again, as Tom always says, “The only thing consistent is the inconsistency.”

So it goes. Small things.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, November 19, 2019:

While visiting family in the US, one year ago, we ran short on photos and posted older photos such as the above which was posted on November 19, 2013, from our visit to the Swahili Beach Resort for dinner at Diani Beach, Kenya. For the year-ago story, please click here.

A dreamy drive in the neighborhood…Teeth and eyes…

Mr. & Mrs. Ostrich trotting down the road.  Moments later they took off on a fast run into the bush.  Ostriches can run up to 70 km (45 miles) per hour.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Tom found this small gecko in the guest bathroom.  We didn’t have a strainer so I fished it out with my hand where it promptly jumped to the floor and took off.  We often see geckos in the house.  They eat insects. 

Today, we’re off to the dentist to have our teeth cleaned followed by eye exams by the local optometrist.  Neither of us has had an eye exam in the past six years since we began traveling.  

Afterward, we’re returning to Spar for a few grocery items to fill in the blanks for Saturday’s Thanksgiving dinner party.  Once back at the house, I’ll begin preparing the pie crusts for the eight pumpkin pies I’ll be making.  

An ostrich in front of the house where we always find them.

Why make so many pies?  In our old lives, it was our tradition to give each couple who came for Thanksgiving dinner a pie to take home.  It’s fun to relive this tradition here in the bush.

A pair of giraffes, each munching on opposite sides of the road.

I’d started today’s post before we left for our two appointments each and additional grocery shopping.  We just returned and I’m rushing to get today’s post uploaded so late in the day.

“In the wild, giraffes almost never lie down because of vulnerability to predators. They usually sleep standing, sometimes sitting, and they give birth standing up. When giraffes sleep, they curl their necks and sleep for about five minutes at a time, sleeping no more than 30 minutes a day.”

We had such a great experience at our two appointments we’ll be sharing details in tomorrow’s post.  The costs for services and products in South Africa are astoundingly lower than what we’d paid in the US.  We’ll post details tomorrow.

The photos we’re posting today are a result of yesterday’s drive in Marloth Park.  With fewer holidaymakers in the park right now, we anticipated we’d see plenty of wildlife and we were right. 

This giraffe was sitting a short distance from the other giraffe as shown in the above photo.

Before we reached our favorite river viewing overlook areas we were lucky to encounter many of the animals shown in today’s photos except the waterbuck (take at the river) and the few photos from our garden.

This baby zebra was so young its coat still looked fluffy and wrinkly.

Generally, our almost daily drives last about two hours.  With the upcoming busy dinner party, we knew we wouldn’t have time to make the drive over the next several days. Yesterday, we took our time, enjoying every sighting along the way.

Taking our time, we chat along the way as we peruse street after street searching for something unique or even slightly out of the ordinary. Seeing giraffes lying down isn’t necessarily the most unusual sighting in nature but we were taken by the beauty of these two magnificent animals at rest.

“The waterbuck’s body odor is so bad that it deters predators.”  A male can weigh up to 260 kg (573 pounds).

Although we frequently see ostriches, we’re always in awe of the way they walk with their heads held high and their confident and prideful demeanor. We often wonder how Mother Nature (or God or whatever higher power you may believe) created this magnificent earth would have decided ostriches held a significant purpose in the ecosystem.

Mom and baby bushbuck by the pond and another baby standing in the garden.  Bushbucks only have one offspring per season.

Somehow each creature, whether venomous or not, whether seemingly useful or not or, if merely food in the food chain, holds a meaningful purpose in their lives, the lives of others, and ultimately in our lives.

For that very reason, is what inspired me to stick my hand into the toilet bowl to rescue the gecko and let her be free.  After a few minutes of vigorous hand washing, I was content to have saved the life of even one of the most common creatures in this land.

This young bushbuck always stays very close to her mom while others we’ve seen will wander off but not too far away.

Also, tomorrow we’ll share an exciting story about a black mamba snake, one of the most venomous snakes on the African continent.  Please check back.

Enjoy your day and evening!


Photo from one year ago today, November 15, 2017:

Three in one…Green Parrots…Tom’s photo.  Love it!  For more photos please click here.

Tender moment in the morning…Plus, the harsh realities of the bush…

This morning Tom noticed Ms. Bushbuck climbing the steps to the veranda.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Amaryllis blooming in the garden. With summer approaching and hopefully more rain, we’ll see more flowers blooming in Marloth Park.

A week ago a resident of Marloth Park posted a comment about Scar Face, the injured warthog we’d been watching and feeding for several months. He was stopping by each day for pellets and to drink from the cement pond.

We found it worthwhile to feed her on the steps after she’d climbed up since the other animals won’t be able to chase her away while she eats pellets. Her idea, not ours.

After we left and returned from Zambia in August, we never saw him again. We’d become attached to him and were fearful he may have been “put down” by the rangers or died from infections due to his injuries.

This morning, Tom stood next to Ms. Bushbuck to prevent kudus from stealing her share of pellets.

As much as we’d all like to believe the animals become “attached to us,” and will always return to see us, in reality, that’s not always the case. Often, in their world, finding food is their number one purpose in life (along with procreating), especially during this long dry season.

While we were gone for a week Scar Face may have decided to pursue another area in the bush and become comfortable finding available food sources, never returning to us.

Kudus were staring at Tom hoping for more pellets.  He’d already given them several of the yellow containers filled with pellets.

When the resident posted his photo and comments, we were relieved to discover that he, in fact, had survived his massive injury and was still thriving in the bush. The fact that we couldn’t see him become less important in discovering he was still alive.

A pretty girl kudu with an oxpecker looking for more pellets.

We’re hoping for the same outcome for Wounded who visits frequently with his horrific injury to his eye and eye socket. Most likely this injury was incurred in the past week or two as the wound appears relatively fresh.

A face like this is hard to resist.

This morning when he stopped by we immediately fed him all the pellets he could eat, one little yellow container at a time. After all, he is a pig and he needs to pace himself. He is very shy although he’ll approach the veranda letting us know exactly what he needs. He’s impossible to resist. 

This morning Wounded appeared in the garden looking for food.

We may never see Scar Face again or perhaps in our (hopefully) remaining three months in Marloth Park, we may see him again someday. Know these injured animals often possess the strength and resilience to heal themselves is comforting.

It appears he may have lost his left eye in the battle.  Heartbreaking.

Yes, some injured animals in Marloth Park “qualify” to be rescued and healed for example by Wild & Free Rehabilitation who may be found at this link. The costs for such medical care are managed through donations through the facility.  

While we were watching him, an oxpecker appeared and started pecking at his wound.

However, some animals, such as warthogs and impalas, don’t necessarily fall into the category of endangered status or are in reduced numbers in Marloth Park. Sadly, when they are ill or injured they’re on their own.

After the oxpecker pecked at his wound, it started to bleed.

As we roll further into the week, I’ve begun carefully planning details for our upcoming Thanksgiving dinner party on Saturday. It’s one of those types of meals that not much can be prepared more than a day in advance.

Sadly, there is nothing that can be done.  It’s evident he’s been working on it by using mud to hopefully aid in the healing.  

At this point, I’ve begun working on cooking and processing the frozen pumpkin into the equivalent of canned pumpkin. This is a slow process but by the end of today, I’ll have it all done. We plan to make 10 pies, one per couple to take home, a few for dessert on Saturday and a few to have left for Tom.

I believe this is an invasive alien plant.

If time allows, I may make a few low-carb pumpkin pies as well. But, there’s plenty to do with our extensive menu which we’ll post on the day of the event. Tomorrow morning we each have dental and eye exam appointments, after which we’ll head back to Spar to wrap up the final shopping for a few items we still need for Saturday.

We’ll be back tomorrow with more. Please check back!

Photo from one year ago today, November 14, 2017:

A curious turtle scurried quickly toward us in Costa Rica. For more photos, please click here.

Utility outages…The return of visitors to the garden…More stunning river sightings…

This is “Little” (short for “Little Wart Face”).  He visits almost daily. That’s why he has grass all over his snout. He likes to cool off in the cement pond, sleep under the shade of a tree in our garden and climb the veranda steps seeking pellets. What a guy! He’d just returned from eating from the bale of hay left in the neighbor’s driveway when they departed after the weekend.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Mr. Frog has been enjoying an array of insects most nights which are attracted to the light.  He appears to be getting rather plump.

Yesterday afternoon, a water main broke close to Gate 2 in Marloth Park.  Subsequently, we had no water for about 12 hours. Service returned in the middle of the night.

This morning we had a power outage, but fortunately, it only lasted about 10 minutes. When the power goes out, the wi-fi also goes out. As always, we shut down our laptops and phones, hoping for a return to service before too long.

We were so busy feeding the visitors last night, and we hardly had time to make our dinner. We couldn’t stop smiling.

When the power returned, we were relieved. I hope neither of these is an issue with our upcoming dinner party in four days. It would be difficult to cook a big meal without water or power.

Yesterday, we read a post on Facebook by a homeowner that an area of Marloth Park was without water last December for 21 days. That would certainly be inconvenient.  

Often warthogs from different “sounders” get into a scuffle over the pellets.

Last night we used a bucket of water from the swimming pool to flush the toilet. This would get old after a day or two. Of course, the worst part would be when unable to take a shower. It’s not as if there’s a local health club where one could go to take a shower.

After all, we’re in the bush in Africa, and things aren’t the same as in many countries throughout the world. And, although there are several adaptations one must make, coming from other countries, it isn’t really that rough.

There were one male and three female zebras in this “dazzle.”

Last night while brushing my teeth, a large black bug fell off my head when I bent down to rinse my mouth (using bottled water, as always). I didn’t scream or flinch. I gently picked it up with a tissue and took it outside to deposit it into the garden.  Years ago, I would have called Tom to help and did a bit of screaming.  No longer.

A young Big Daddy attempting to eat some greenery inside the fenced area in the garden.

It must have fallen into my hair while we sat outdoors last night reveling in the numbers of wildlife that came to call. It wasn’t as if we had more than a dozen at any given time but more so that they kept coming and coming, hour after hour.

Recently, I ran into local friend Gail at the market, and we giggled over how we never tire of the wildlife. If anything, as time goes on, we become more and more interested in them, as we learn about them, and as time goes by, we learn more about the nuances of certain animals.

With just the two of us at Two Trees, Tom spotted this female lion.

As shown above, in our main photo, coming to know the peculiarities and habits of certain visitors only adds to the pleasure and significance of seeing them time after time.

Most days, we see at least one animal that is new to us. Over this past nine months, we’ve been able to identify frequent visitors by certain markings, size of tusks, horns, and variations in stripe patterns. It’s now become easy for us to realize someone is new to us.

She may have been perusing the area for her next meal.

We welcome them all, familiar and new, with open arms to partake of our seemingly endless supply of pellets, carrots, apples, and pears, all suitable foods for them.

A large bull elephant on the river bank.  Check out those tusks!

Today, after friend Kathy stops by and drops off some much-needed ingredients she picked up in the big city for the upcoming Thanksgiving dinner party on Saturday (thank you, Kathy!), we’ll head out for our usual drive in the park to see what wonders Mother Nature may have in store for us.

It will be another good day in the neighborhood! I hope you all experience the same!

Photo from one year ago today, November 13, 2017:

Another of Tom’s excellent bird photos, two Green Parrots admiring each other. For more photos, please click here.

What???…A leopard sighting on the Crocodile River?…Giraffes stopping for a drink…

Giraffes are constantly on guard for predators, especially when it’s time to drink when they become vulnerable in a bending position.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

The convoluted photo is difficult to decipher at first.  Note the one kudu attempting to eat the seeds in the birdfeeder, which she eventually accomplished.

While Tom was taking a short nap while I stayed at the table on the veranda finishing the daily post, I took a peek at the Marloth Park River Sightings page on Facebook to see if anyone had posted information regarding exciting sightings.

Alas, a frequent FB poster mentioned a leopard had been sighted 90 minutes earlier at the end of Swartwitpens, where it meets the river road. Such a sighting may result in disappointment if too much time has passed and the animal has moved on.

Giraffes often head to the river to drink.

I deliberated if I should awaken Tom, but he never sleeps more than 20 minutes, so I waited until he exited the bedroom to mention the sighting. Within two minutes, we were in the little car and on our way.

Once we arrived at the location, we noticed only one other car, which could indicate the leopard was gone from view. Fortunately, we met a lovely couple from Nelspruit who lives part-time in Marloth Park, Estelle, and Johan.  

We’d never have been able to spot the leopard without their help. It’s funny how people try to explain where to look to spot the animal of interest at the moment.  

Giraffes adopt a variety of stances to gain access to the water.

Nature has provided the ideal camouflage for wildlife, often making it nearly impossible to see certain animals lying under trees or bushes from the distant fence at Marloth Park across to the opposite side of the Crocodile River.

Rarely, when there is any sighting, friendly observers often assist others in finding the animal’s location. It goes like this, “See the two green trees over there with a dry bush between them? The lion is lying at the base of the tree on the left.” This is usually what seems to be an accurate description.

There were four giraffes in this tower.

However, there are dozens of green trees and dry bushes across the river, and even if one points in the correct direction carefully, the animal is often challenging to see.

Both Tom and I have noticed a difference in the way men describe where the animal is located instead of women. When Tom and Lois were here, my Tom would provide a lengthy description explaining where the lion was found.  

On the other hand, when Lois described it, she did so with few words, and often, I was more easily able to comprehend the few words as opposed to the lengthy, detailed description.  

They were stopping to check their surroundings.

We’ve noticed this phenomenon on other occasions when asking for assistance; regardless of what many people want to believe about the sexes thinking alike, it’s natural for women and men to have different perceptions and responses.

We see this in nature by the erratic behaviors of female and male animals that stop by.  For example, the male bushbucks are shy and constantly on guard, whereby the females easily approach us without hesitation.

A lone hippo grazing by the river.

The male kudus with their big horns are bossy and determined, whereby the females are more docile and quick to approach us. I could go on and on regarding the erratic behaviors of the sexes of wildlife after we’ve spent the past nine months observing them every day.

It’s always a challenge, regardless of who is describing where the animal is located, to find it, focus the camera for such a long distance resulting in a good photo.

Yesterday, at the river, I couldn’t spot the leopard, but Tom did so in minutes after Johan described the location to him in several paragraphs. I was stymied.  Nonetheless, Tom was able to take the two very distant photos we’re sharing here today.  

Only the spots confirmed this was a leopard lounging under a tree a long distance from the fence between Marloth Park and Kruger.

We’re disappointed in the lack of clarity in the photo, but this leopard may easily have been a good kilometer from us. Our skill nor our cameras were capable of obtaining better shots.

The more explicit photos we’ve seen on Facebook of yesterday’s leopard sighting were acquired with long-range lenses, which are too heavy and we’ll never be able to carry throughout the world with us.  

We waited patiently while chatting with a lovely couple we met at the fence, Johan and Estelle, who said they’ve been reading our site.

It’s one thing to have such a camera set up at home and use it now and then for special shots.  It’s another thing to have the heavy beast everywhere we go…totally impractical.

This morning we headed to Komatipoort to shop for Saturday’s upcoming Thanksgiving dinner party.  On the way to Spar, we stopped for breakfast at Stoep Cafe for another fine breakfast and idle chatter.

Now back at the house, everything is put away, and we almost have everything we’ll need.  On Thursday, we’ll return to complete the shopping balance after our teeth cleaning and eye doctor appointments.

Have a spectacular day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 12, 2017:

Tom took another excellent distant shot of a bird we couldn’t identify online. Costa Rica neighbor and bird enthusiast Charlie identified this bird as a Clay-colored Thrush or Yigüirro in Spanish.  For more photos, please click here.