We’re still in Nelspruit…More medical tests required…Time is rapidly ticking by for our required departure…

A rickety old bridge no longer in use near the Municipal campground, bird hide and the hippo pool.

Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A hippo and a cattle egret have symbiosis in their relationship.

It’s 1430 hours (2:30 PM) and we’re still in Nelspruit.  The first round of the medical tests is completed.  Unfortunately, I didn’t fall into the 25% margin of error I was hoping for and tomorrow morning’s test will tell more.


We stayed at the beautiful Leaves Lodge and Spa at the edge of town no more than three minutes from the Nelspruit hospital and adjoining Mediclinic.  We checked out of the hotel this morning, optimistic for a good result. 


But alas, we had to check back into the hotel a short time ago when the doctor explained more tests were necessary before a determination can be made.  Tomorrow morning, the CAT scan will be performed but we won’t have results until Wednesday afternoon.


Subsequently, we’ll drive back to Marloth Park to await the results.  I can only imagine our readers out there who’ve been through this same process ultimately ending up with angioplasty or heart surgery of one form or another.  Surely, you can relate to the worry and concern coupled with the angst of the unknown.


After a lifetime of taking care of my health, exercising, eating a healthy diet and staying cognizant of stressful situations, I’m disappointed to discover my efforts were no guaranty of avoiding cardiovascular issues in the senior years.


However, the doctor explained had I not been so astute about my health, I could have had a massive coronary and not be here to tell this story.  Of course, I’m grateful!

It goes to show that genetics play a huge role in our health. My mother’s side of the family suffered from heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.  As a young girl, I observed all this ill health and decided I’d take care of myself in an attempt to avoid obesity and diabetes by exercising and a healthy diet.  In that area, I’ve succeeded.

A giraffe we spotted in the bush before the rains.

But the powerful genetics of heart disease isn’t easy to repel so here I am now trying to figure it all out, only two weeks from my 71st birthday.  Of course, I’m worried and so is Tom.  On top of that, we’re supposed to leave for Kenya in 11 days, when our South Africa visas expire.  If we don’t hightail out of South Africa by February 15th, we’d be considered “undesirables.”  Oh, good grief.


We’d be foolhardy and flippant to dismiss this as a mere inconvenience in the realm of our world travels.  Without proper care, we could conceivably have little time left to continue our journey.  


Remember?  We’ve always said the only thing that would cause us to stop traveling was bad health.  Now, we’re determined to do whatever is necessary to ensure we can continue on.


Before closing, I must say thank you to each and every one of our readers, family, and friends who’ve sent the kindest and most “heartfelt” prayers and good wishes for a positive outcome.  


During this quiet time in the hotel in the past 24 hours, I’ve spent the majority of my time returning email messages from kind and thoughtful readers/friends. At the moment, Tom is watching a replay of yesterday’s SuperBowl game and voraciously munching of a bag of salted peanuts, a great stress reducer.


I’m sipping a hot cup of Rooibos tea and thinking about how nice it will be when all of this is resolved, one way or another, and we can go back to being excited about the future.


Be well.

________________________________________



Photo from one year ago today, February 4, 2018:

Many icebergs form spectacular shapes, portals, and openings.  For more photos, please click here.

We’re off to Nelspruit, hotel tonight…Hospital tomorrow….Remembering….

A few months ago we shot this photo of two Big Daddies sharing pellets.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A  pair of male lions, possibly brothers, checking out their options for lunch.

It was February 4, 2014, that I dropped my then laptop and totally destroyed the touch monitor.  It was impossible to replace the monitor if parts were available since the cost to do so would be prohibitive, more than the cost of a new computer.

To see the post on the day I dropped it, please click here.  To see the post from the following day, please click here, when our dear friend and driver Okey Dokey drove me to Nelspruit to a computer store to purchase a replacement.
I wasn’t thrilled with the HP laptop I’d purchased but it managed to get me through until we arrived in Hawaii in December 2014.  I ultimately purchased a new Acer model in January 2015, the one I’m still using that I purchased at a Costco store in Kona.



While in the US in June 2017 we purchased a new laptop for me knowing that our extensive travel resulted in tremendous wear and tear on laptops and didn’t expect it to last more than a few years.  

Handsome male lion lounging under a tree on a hot day.

As it turned out, Tom needed to start using the new laptop we were holding for me when his laptop died about six months ago.  Finally, we were down to two laptops, no longer needing to haul a third as a back-up.


The question remained…would my laptop hold out until we arrive in the US in April 2019 at over four years old?  Now, with only 64 days until we arrive in the US (staying for 17 days) I feel fairly confident, if I don’t drop it, it will last until we purchase a replacement.  It has a few issues for which I figured out workarounds. 


Replacing digital equipment is a challenge when traveling the world for as long as we have been on the move.  For us, with all of our accounting and financials, blog postings, photos and storage of TV shows and movies, no tablet can fulfill our requirements.  

Ms, Bushbuck and Baby stop by every day. They love lettuce.

Plus, I find I need the bigger monitor and easy touchscreen available on these Acer products along with a lighted keyboard.  As a lousy typist (still, after all these years) I need a lighted keyboard for nighttime typing.


Many have suggested we switch to Apple products but we’ve been PC users since the beginning and have no desire to change.  Also, with the higher cost of Apple products along with the added wear and tear from constant travel, this makes no financial sense to us.  


At most, in the US, we can purchase exactly what I need for under ZAR 9321 (US $700) whereby Apple products are priced three times (or more) higher.  Our philosophy is: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” or, “Love the one you’re with!”

A pair of giraffes at the Crocodile River.

Yes, we do try new things, obviously, right?  But, when it comes to areas of our lives of world travel, we find systems we have in place came about from years of experience, trial and error.  And yes, we’re open to new technology, making every effort to research new modalities that may serve us well now or in the future.

So today, as we make our way to Nelspruit for my upcoming hospital stay (hopefully, short term) I’m reminded of that time five years ago when Okey Dokey and I drove to Nelspruit laughing at funny stories we told along the way.


A short time later, at the mall, we realized that South Africa wasn’t necessarily the best place for me to purchase new digital equipment with limited options available to suit my requirements.

Giraffes wandering down a dirt road in the park.

Tomorrow, we’re hoping to be back later in the day, after the first round of tests are completed and we know more.  Thanks to good wishes from many of our readers.  You mean the world to us!


To our friends and family in the US, have a fantastic SuperBowl Sunday!

____________________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, February 3, 2018:

The whaling equipment in Deception Island, Antarctica and its housing were destroyed by a volcano eruption in 1969 and operations ceased.  For more photos, please click here.

Medical concern, off to hospital…Check out the “year ago photo” below!…Outstanding sighting!

Many refer to impalas as “McDonald’s “due to the big “M” on their backside and…how they provide ample meals for the big cats.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Mr. Monitor Lizard says, “Pool time!”

Over the past few hours, I’ve been deliberating over whether or not to mention a health concern I’m facing at this time.  After careful consideration, and many discussions between Tom and I, we decided to go ahead and tell this story as it unfolds over the next several days.


Why reveal such a personal scenario?  I’m not looking for sympathy, empathy or attention.  Our lives are filled with wonderful feelings and experiences.  These particular words don’t necessarily fall into a category of words that typically apply to us.

A herd of impalas.

If we wanted attention, we’d go on TV and tell our story.  But, we prefer to live our lives of world travel with all of YOU who, with such dedication, have followed along with us all of these years.  Your warmth, kindness, and support are all we ever need to fulfill us in writing this daily story and photos of our experiences.

Subsequently, we decided to tell this story in hopes that if only one person reads it and learns something from it that may ultimately inspire them to improve their own health, this personal expose will have been worthwhile.  

At times, people ask, “How can you let everyone in our your personal business?” When we began posting we knew we were going to forfeit a part of our private selves.  

Lonely wildebeest.

Simply writing about places we’ve been, restaurants in which we’ve dined, animals we’ve observed in the wild and cultures we’ve explored in many lands, would make us similar to the zillions of travel logs and blogs so readily available online.

We wanted to touch upon the “human side,” of world travel, the pros and cons, the ups and downs and often our own personal foibles of which we have many and freely express here.  At times, our vulnerability is deafening, even in our own ears.

At times, these lone males wander and graze the bush in small or large herds, known as an “implausibility.”

Thus, tomorrow morning we’re driving to Nelspruit to stay in a hotel near the hospital for my 8:00 am cardiology appointment with one of the top cardiology specialists in South Africa.  (After all, it was South Africa where Dr. Christiaan Barnard performed the first heart transplant in December 1967).

This morning, I had an exercise stress test with Dr. Theo Stonkquist in Komatipoort, one of the finest doctors I’ve ever met.  At the end of the test which I’d thought I’d passed with flying colors, breezing through the process, Dr. Theo informed me the test indicates I have a blocked artery.

All my life, I’ve made every effort to stay healthy when I witness many family members falling prey to many conditions including considerable diabetic and heart-related conditions.  I stayed slim, exercised, ate a healthy diet and did everything I could to avert such a possibility.  As we now know from science, our genes are more powerful than our dreams of good health.

This implausibility appears to be females and their young.

In minutes, Dr. Theo reached his most highly regarded colleague in Nelspruit (after sending him my results) and immediately made an appointment for me for Monday morning at 8:00 am.

We’ve already booked a hotel near the hospital and will make the drive tomorrow (Sunday), stay overnight at the hotel and be only minutes from the hospital on Monday morning. Most likely, I’ll be in hospital overnight.

I’ll have a battery of scans and tests after which a decision will be made as to the next step which could result in an angiogram and stent.  I’m hanging onto the hope that I may fall into the 25% margin of error category based on the stress test I had today.

A female lion at a distance in Kruger National Park.

However, with awful recurring pain, I’ve had in my jaws for weeks which the doc thinks is angina, I’m not overly optimistic that I’ll fall into that 25% margin of error.  As a matter of fact, it was that very intermittent fierce jaw pain that prompted me to go see Dr. Theo on Thursday.

We’ll see how it goes.  There’s good WiFi at the hospital and surely, if I’m able, I will do a post on Monday after the tests, albeit short with updates.  Please understand I may not be able to post if the tests or procedures continue longer than expected.  In that case, most likely, there will be a short post, before the end of the day on Monday or sometime on Tuesday.

Am I scared?  Sure.  I’d be a fool to say this is not frightening.  I have no doubt many of you reading this, who have been through a similar situation in the past, were apprehensive and a bit frightened.  Dr. Theo prescribed three medications for me to aid in preventing a heart attack which I started immediately (including nitroglycerin in the event of a problem).

If optimism and positive thinking were a certainty for a good outcome, many of us would never worry about a thing.  But, we’re human, we’re infallible and we’re subject to emotions ingrained in us to protect; ourselves, our loved ones; and the world around us.

Be well!  Be healthy and carry on!


_________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, February 2, 2018:

The captain maneuvered the ship so we could see this in more detail. This was a stunning sighting…Chinstrap Penguins on an iceberg!  For more Antarctica photos, please click here.

Looking toward the future. ..House hunting???…One year ago…shocking photo!!…

When we arrived at the holiday home Louise was showing us, per our request, we spotted these two young giraffes resting under the shade of a tree. 

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This gentle little soul is “Little’s Friend.”  He stops by each day without Little to see what’s going on.  He’s easy to spot with his extra tiny tusks, much smaller than Little’s from which he derived his name.

We’ll be returning to Marloth Park in March, 2021.  It seems to be a long time from now but it’s only in 25 months.  As quickly as time flies in this life of world travel, 25 months is not so long ago.  


Twenty five months ago was January 1, 2017.  On that date, we were living in Penguin, Tasmania wrapping up a stay of a period of three months.  Penguin was one of Tom’s favorite places we lived during this past six years and three months.  See this link for that date in Penguin.


It seems like only yesterday we were living in Penguin over the holiday season.  The memories from that quaint little town are often a topic of conversation when we reminince over where we’ve been and what we’ve done.


Thus, looking 25 months into the future doesn’t seem so far away.  But, this time I won’t be thinking about Marloth Park as much as I had before we returned last Feburary 11th.  After a year here, my cup is full and I’ll patiently incorporate this magical place into my thoughts of the future as I do aniticipating other adventures on the horizon.

The house backed up to the parklands where many animals gather which is the factor that peaked our interest.

Our wonderful friends and property manager, Louise (and Danie) will no doubt ensure we have an ideal house to rent (no, not purchase – we’ll never do that!) for the short three months we’ll spend here in March, 2021.


While driving through the park we’d noticed a property Louise manages that backs up to the parklands.  Often, when we drove past that property, there are many giraffes at the backside of the house which peaked our curiosity.  We asked Louise is we could see it before we leave in 13 days.


As it turns out, this house we’ve been renting for the past year, is ideal for our desires but may not be available in two years.  The owners intend to sell it and if it sells, it may not be offered as a holiday home by the new owners.  If that’s the case, we’ll have to find another house to rent.  Of course, Louise and Danie will ensure we have something suitable for our needs when we return.

They sat quietly unpreturbed by our presence.

What are our needs in renting a house in Marloth Park? Here is the criteria in order of preference:


1.  Excellent open garden space and veranda for wildlife viewing
2.  Quality unlimited WiFi connection
3.  Main floor living – In Africa, often steps to are uneven and a surefire risk for falling.  With my delicate spine, I can’t take that risk, requiring a main floor kitchen, bedroom, bath and living area.  Many homes in the park seem to have a living area on a separate level from the main floor bedroom.  This doesn’t work for us due to this reason.  Although we seldom spend time in a lounge or living room, (we’re always outdoors) we prefer that option for rainy and/or windy days.
4.  Good kitchen for food prep preferably with ample refrigerator space and an oven.  Believe it or not, some holiday homes don’t have an oven when typical tourists don’t stay long to consider using an oven.
5.  Comfortable queen sized bed or larger.


In reality, these aren’t outrageous requirements.  They may apply to many senior citizens for their own homes wherever they may reside or any potential holiday situations.  We’ve rented many larger properties with an upstairs level but met our requirements for the main floor.

Such beauty.  We’ll miss all of this.

As it turned out when we looked at that house adjoining the parklands, everything was wrong.  Louise knew that house wouldn’t work for us but knew we needed to assess it ourselves since we loved the location.


The main floor had two bedrooms and a kitchen but no living space whatsoever which was located up a steep flight of steps.  The veranda was facing the dirt road, not the parklands, and there was literally no where to sit other than on the dirt to observe the wildlife in the rear of the house.


Many tourists come to stay in Marloth Park for a few days while they head to Kruger during daylight hours.  Spotting wildlife in the area is all they require during their short stays.  In this case, that house could be suitable for those with no issues navigating steep stairs.


But, we satisfied our curiosty and chatting with Louise, and Danie who had come along to say hello, they assured us we’ll have no worries as to an affordable suitable house for us in 25 months.  We have no doubt they figure it out for us when the time comes near.


Today, the heat and humidity have returned.  “Little” stopped by to lounge in the cement pond and dine on some pellets, apples and carrots.  As we go through the balance of the fruit and veg, we realize we won’t be buying anymore produce.  


We’ll finish the remaining three 40 kg bags of pellets over these next 13 days and we’ll be on our way.


May your day be rewarding and fulfilling.

_________________________________________



Photo from one year ago today, February 1, 2018:

It was literally a “sea of penguins” along the strip of beach in Saint Andrews Bay, South Georgia Islands, Antarctica.  For more photos, please click here.

Getting back into the groove after the holiday…Thinking about good health in the New Year…

Zebras were running around a circular path playfully chasing one another.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

See the zebra foal nursing on the opposite side of her mom.

We rushing a bit today.  It’s a gorgeous day, less humid than usual, and we anxious to get out for a drive.  We rousted up a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs with onions and cheese, which seems to be our favorite quick breakfast of late.  I can whip this up in about five minutes.


We eat a lot of eggs, eight jumbos to be exact, split between us with about three for me and five for Tom.  With our way of eating this breakfast will hold us all day without a hunger pang or thought of food.

We saw no less than 17 giraffes in the parkland.

It isn’t until around 1800 hours (6:00 pm) that we start to think about our low carb, grain, starch, and sugar-free dinner, usually having it all ready to enjoy by 1900 hours (7:00 pm).  After dinner, neither of us eats a thing.  The exception to this is when we’ve had dinner guests and Tom may finish off a dessert.


By following this routine, we both are able to keep our weight and health under control.  It a wonderful feeling not to have gained weight over the holidays and yet we had many excellent meals along the way.


Staying healthy isn’t always easy.  We’re not exempt from occasional discomforts, colds, flu, and viruses that we may be exposed to.  Then, of course, there’s exposure to a wide array of insect bites (on me) that may become out of control and difficult to deal with.

There were no less than two dozen zebras in the same area as the giraffes.

Each day, every four hours, I load up on repellent.  Now that I’m using a non-toxic, non-DEET product, I feel better about having to reapply so often.  I go through one entire tube of OnGuard and a half bottle of the pump spray, doing touch ups after cooking and washing my hands frequently.  


It’s is awful getting bites on my fingers and hands which are often neglected when applying lotion, later to rinse off one’s hand.  Also, my feet are particularly vulnerable, especially around the toes and ankles.  It awful to be awakened during the night with an itching toe that I may have missed when applying repellent before bed.

The giraffes were enjoying the fresh greenery from recent rains.

Tom doesn’t care to use the mosquito netting which I understand.  Subsequently, we always keep the bedroom door shut, day and night.  This helps tremendously.


If we encounter a single fly or mosquitos or another insect in the bedroom we immediately get to work to eliminate it.  My conscientious doesn’t bother me to kill a mosquito or fly.  Although many other insects are vital to the environment.  Those we attempt to catch in a cup or dustpan and send them outside to live their lives as intended.


Being around all these animals attract certain insects.  Yesterday for the first time in almost 11 months, we noticed a big pile of poop in the driveway.  Many forms of wildlife are ruminants with several stomachs and their excrement is small and pellet-like, even giraffes.

Such majestic animals.

Zebras, on the other hand, have one stomach and are loudly gassy and have enormous piles of poop.  We often giggle when they visit and pass loud gassy sounds (for the sake of not using the “f” word…gross) when they kick at one another in competition for food.


Living in the bush is not a sanitary situation.  We have to wash our feet before going to bed and constantly be washing our hands from dust on our laptops and all over the house which is cleaned well daily.  I’m frequently washing the kitchen counters with Windex to keep the flying dust and bug matter under control.

In the past few days, zebras have returned to the garden.  FinallY!

We do go barefoot all day when staying in but do wear shoes when walking out into the garden or on the dirt.  All of this is the price one pays for being in the magical environment.


As the days of the new year move along, we’re looking forward to seeing and interacting with all of our usual wildlife friends.  As a matter of fact, we can’t ever get enough.


Ouch…41 days and counting…


Be well.

____________________________________



Photo from one year ago today, January 4, 2018:

This sticker-decorated refrigerator in the barbershop in Buenos Aires was filled with Budweiser beer for patrons.  What a great idea!  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.  He’d just returned from eating from the bale of hay left in the neighbor’s driveway when they departed after the weekend.  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!

“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, 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 just aren’t the same as they are in many countries throughout the world. And, although there are a number of 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, 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.  Its 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 which are 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!  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 its 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.  Now, 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 at the location which could indicate the leopard was gone from view.  Fortunately, we met a lovely couple from Nelspruit who live part-time in Marloth Park, Estelle and Johan.  

We’d never have been able to spot the leopard without their help.  It’s a funny thing 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 most 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 all the way across to the opposite side of the Crocodile River.

Rarely, when there any sighting friendly observers often assist others in finding the location of the animal.  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 difficult to see.


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


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.  

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, its natural for women and men to have different perceptions and different responses.


We see this in nature as well by the varying 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 varying behaviors of the sexes of wildlife after we’ve spent the past nine months observing them each and every day.


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



Yesterday, at the river, I wasn’t ever able to spot the leopard but Tom did so in minutes after Johan described the location to him in several paragraphs.  I was stymied.  None the less, Tom was able to take the two very distant photos we’re sharing here today.  
It was only the spots that 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 clearer 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 be able to 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 for complete the balance of the shopping 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.

A giraffe story unfolds before our eyes…Frikkie’s Dam bush braai…

When we turned onto Swartwitpens Road when returning from the river, we spotted this giraffe with a dilemma.  She wanted to cross the road to join her tower of giraffes but was unable to cross this deep trench.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A young male kudu learns the ways of being so cute its impossible to resist giving him pellets.

It was an excellent Sunday in the bush.  We began our day, as always, coffee and tea on the veranda.  I’d gotten up early to begin cooking the crustless cheesy sausage and egg quiche to bring to the bush braai at Frikkie’s Dam and made a pan of well-seasoned chicken wings, both of which we shared at the gathering.

From what we understand, the trench was dug to make way for power lines and had yet to be completed.

Lois sliced cheddar cheese sticks and brought along cracker for the two of them.  We packed the cooler with ice, beverages including beer wine, gin and tonics, and vodka and Sprite Zero for some options during the day-long event.  The two Toms drank Lion brand beer while Lois and I had a few lightweight cocktails of gin and tonic and vodka and Sprite.

Her “friends” or family members on the opposite side of the road noticed her dilemma between nibbles on tree tops.

After paying the required ZAR 100 (US $6.87) per carload at the entrance gate to Lionspruit, a game reserve within Marloth Park, we were on our way to Frikkie’s Dam down a series of bumpy dirt roads, hoping to see a few of the wildlife that lived therein.

It didn’t appear there was any way they could help so they went back to eating.

We arrived at the braai area in Frikkie’s Dam to find Louise and Danie had everything set up as usual.  It was a pleasure to have Tom and Lois along with us for yet another fine African experience, unlike anything they’ve ever done in their lives.  

She continued to contemplate a solution.

Who has the opportunity to enjoy a lunch among the wildlife in a game reserve in Africa?  It’s truly a once in a lifetime experience.  And for us, we’re grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in social events in this magical place, Marloth Park.

The giraffe on the far left seemed more concerned than the giraffe in the forefront.

As for today’s giraffe photos…these were taken on Saturday when we embarked on the usual two-hour drive in the park searching for unique and unusual sightings, along with all the typical sightings we’ve encountered in Marloth Park.

Again, she considered her options.  Surely, crossing could easily lead to a severe injury.

After several excellent sightings, we decided to head back to the house for a little relaxation time and to shower and dress for our upcoming evening and dinner at Jabula.

Finally, she gave up considering crossing and walked along the trench to its end.

Little did we know, we’d encounter the giraffe situation represented today in our photos.  Yes, it was a simple situation…a giraffe unable and/or unwilling to cross a deep trench which had been made in preparation for laying new electrical lines.

The one giraffe continued to follow her with his eyes.

Had she tried to cross the trench, she could easily have been injured, perhaps even breaking a leg or worse.  She knew this was a precarious situation and didn’t want to risk life or limb.  She looked at her friends/family members from time to time seeking help and one of them responded in contemplating what could possibly be done.

He desperately wanted to help.

Realistically, her only safe option was to walk all the way to the end of the trench, cross the road and double back to meet up with her tower of giraffes.


Watching her indecisiveness along with her desire to get across was tender and elicited considerable emotion from all of us.  We were in awe of her determination and innate sense of caution at the same time.

Finally, he took off down to road to see where she went.

Finally, she gave up and decided to walk the length of the road on her side of the trench.  When she reached the end, she made her way to the road and surely met up with the remainder of her group.  It was a special sighting, one we’ll all always remember.

He was stymied as to where she may have gone.

This morning we drove to Komatipoort from breakfast at Stoep Cafe which we hope to return to one more time before Tom and Lois depart on Thursday to return to the US.


As soon as we upload this post, we’re on our way for the final time for the four of us to Ngwenya for river viewing and dinner.  There’s no buffet tonight but we’ll all order off the menu after spending time on the veranda perusing the Crocodile River for whatever Mother Nature wants to present to us tonight.

Finally, she made it to the open road and waited for her friends to arrive.  Happy ending.  Happy giraffe.  Happy us, for witnessing this event.

May your day and evening present you with those special things that make your heart flutter.

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Photo from one year ago today, October 29, 2017:

A huge bull on his way to…who knows what?  For more photos from Managua, Nicaragua, please click here.

Giraffes came to call!…Preparing for our house guests…Six days and counting…

This morning when feeding this Ms. Bushbuck (one of many Ms. Bushbucks) we noticed a giraffe in the garden.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Many cape buffalos resting near the river’s edge during yesterdays 39C (102F) scorcher.

Last night, after we’d prepared the veranda for the evening with the big bowl of freshly cut vegetables filled to the brim; the container of pellets; two different types of insect repellents including one lit coil and one lit oil lantern; various lights turned on; the table set for dinner; bushbaby yogurt placed on the little stand and beverages ready for 1700 hours (5:00 pm) we noticed two giraffes in the garden.

Since generally giraffes aren’t fed by humans, they are very skittish.

Since arriving in Marloth Park many moons ago, we hadn’t seen many giraffes in the garden, spotting more when on our daily drives in Marloth Park or when on self-drives in Kruger National Park.

It was getting dark and taking photos of the giraffes was challenging especially when we didn’t dare get too close. Giraffes can be very dangerous if they feel threatened.  We kept our distance thinking this might be one of very few opportunities to see them in the garden.

As I attempted to get better shots, he moved back concerned about my presence.

Alas, this morning while feeding one of many bushbucks that stop by, the two giraffes were back.  With our friends Tom and Lois arriving in six days, we’re hoping the giraffes will return during the three weeks they’ll be staying with us beginning next Tuesday, October 9th.

We’d seen this large male at other locations in the park.

We’re busy getting ready for our guests to arrive.  On Monday, Louise has arranged for Zef and Vusi to do yet another “spring cleaning.”  With the constant stream of dust kicked up by wildlife, the house and veranda must be cleaned daily.  But even so, there’s so must dust its difficult to attend to each day.

The spring cleaning on both the main floor where our bedroom is located and the second story where Tom & Lois will sleep is imperative, especially when the upstairs hasn’t been attended to for months. Overnight, insects and cobwebs accumulate in every nook and cranny.  After all, this is Africa.

A female joined the male in munching on the treetops.

We’re busy planning the first week’s meals and activities, realizing that anything can be changed if our guests prefer another plan. But we anticipate they’ll be excited with our planning, including dinners out, sundowner wildlife river watching, self-drive safaris in Kruger and dinners on the veranda, all of which will provide them with the full African experience.

He stood there for quite some time.

Oddly, this will be the first time any friends from the US have come to visit us.  Let’s face it, this is far from the US and nearly a 24-hour travel time that many vacationers prefer to avoid. 

Plus, many people prefer to stay in resorts and hotels while on holiday and not to stay in a house.  In essence, staying in a resort is considerably easier with no concern over meals, transportation, activity planning, etc.

Soon, they began to wander off toward the nearby parklands.

We plan to make this visit as relaxing and enjoyable as possible for them. Of course, continually searching for wildlife sightings can be very active and time-consuming which we have no doubt they’ll love.  They are a very busy and well-traveled couple who spend a lot of time on a motorcycle traveling the USA.

Also, we feel confident they’ll be fine with the heat, insects, and dust.  They aren’t as delicate as some may be under these conditions.  I can think of many of our friends who’d find these conditions uncomfortable and subsequently avoid visiting us in Africa and certain other countries where conditions may be a little rough.

About a dozen bushbabies stop by the little stand for yogurt which we purchase weekly for the nightly feedings.

We’ve asked Tom and Lois their favorite beverage options and are already well-stocked for their arrival.  They’ve generously offered to share in the cost of food and beverages while here since they’re staying for three weeks.  But, we’re not accepting any money for rent.  

They are our guests and we’re grateful they’re taking the time and expense to visit.  Our goal is to make this time as memorable and enjoyable for them as possible.  We’re leaving plans flexible and wide open, if they’d prefer to head off on their own for safaris, dinners out or any other events.

On the other hand, if they’d like us to join them on any and all activities, we’ll surely be happy to do so.

Today is much cooler than yesterday.  Later on, we’ll head down to the river to see if we can spot the lions we hear have been working on a recent kill.  We’ll be back with more soon.

May you have an exceptional day!

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Photo from one year ago today, October 3, 2017:

The pretty little hummingbird was stunned after hitting the glass wall in Costa Rica and landed on a chaise lounge.  A short while later she recovered and flew away much to our relief.  For more photos, please click here.

Mom and baby giraffe day!…Little birds and crocs…Losing one’s memory…

Mom was standing by the river’s edge waiting for her baby to join her who was a short distance away.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Little birds stopped by for seeds.  Can anyone help us identify these little birds?

The days and nights roll into one another so quickly we often forget the day of the week. But, that constitutes the extent of any memory loss we may experience.  Of course, there’s always been the issue of remembering the names of people we’ve just met but that’s been a lifelong issue for both of us.

Mom appeared to want to show her offspring how to drink from the river.

I’ve come to the conclusion that not remembering the names of newly met people is due to the fact we’re so busy assessing them and formulating opinions as to “who they are” we fail to pay close attention to their names.

Down they went, in an awkward pose, to drink from the river.

We’ve both found if we focus on hearing their name, we’ll remember it, especially if we use their name in conversation during the first meeting.  That’s not always easy to do but we’ve found it really works.

Otherwise, neither of us suffers from any forgetfulness perhaps making us a little too confident that advancing age-associated memory loss will escape us.  Tom’s mother who passed away at age 98 had an acute memory, able to recite birthdays, anniversaries and special event in the lives of her many family members. 

The baby tried it on her own while mom stood watch.  Giraffes are vulnerable to predators in this position.

My mother suffered from dementia even at the age I am now which exacerbated until her death at 81 years of age.  Memory loss is heredity and yet I suffer no signs of it approaching and pray this path of good memory continues for many years to come.


If keeping one’s mind active is any indicator of prolonging a good memory, we’re on the right track.  Never a day passes that we don’t discover and learn something new.  Add the task of often putting it down in writing (and photos) on this site, only adds to the depth of our ability to remember.

A few zebras meandered down the hill to the water but mom didn’t seem concerned.  Giraffes and zebras seem to comingle well in the wild.

Tom, who proofreads each post daily and shares in the process of conducting research while I’m preparing the post, also gleans a lot of new information daily along with our many adventures with wildlife and nature.


After writing the above comments, we searched online and found an article from Harvard Health at Harvard Medical School listing seven points that aid in maintaining a good memory.


Here they are, as quoted from the article here:

“1. Keep learning

A higher level of education is associated with better mental functioning in old age. Experts think that advanced education may help keep memory strong by getting a person into the habit of being mentally active. Challenging your brain with mental exercise is believed to activate processes that help maintain individual brain cells and stimulate communication among them. Many people have jobs that keep them mentally active, but pursuing a hobby or learning a new skill can function the same way. Read; join a book group; play chess or bridge; write your life story; do crossword or jigsaw puzzles; take a class; pursue music or art; design a new garden layout. At work, propose or volunteer for a project that involves a skill you don’t usually use. Building and preserving brain connections is an ongoing process, so make lifelong learning a priority.

2. Use all your senses

The more senses you use in learning something, the more of your brain will be involved in retaining the memory. In one study, adults were shown a series of emotionally neutral images, each presented along with a smell. They were not asked to remember what they saw. Later, they were shown a set of images, this time without odors, and asked to indicate which they’d seen before. They had excellent recall for all odor-paired pictures, and especially for those associated with pleasant smells. Brain imaging indicated that the piriform cortex, the main odor-processing region of the brain, became active when people saw objects originally paired with odors, even though the smells were no longer present and the subjects hadn’t tried to remember them. So challenge all your senses as you venture into the unfamiliar. For example, try to guess the ingredients as you smell and taste a new restaurant dish. Give sculpting or ceramics a try, noticing the feel and smell of the materials you’re using.

3. Believe in yourself

Myths about aging can contribute to a failing memory. Middle-aged and older learners do worse on memory tasks when they’re exposed to negative stereotypes about aging and memory, and better when the messages are positive about memory preservation into old age. People who believe that they are not in control of their memory function are less likely to work at maintaining or improving their memory skills and therefore are more likely to experience cognitive decline. If you believe you can improve and you translate that belief into practice, you have a better chance of keeping your mind sharp.

4. Economize your brain use

If you don’t need to use mental energy remembering where you laid your keys or the time of your granddaughter’s birthday party, you’ll be better able to concentrate on learning and remembering new and important things. Take advantage of calendars and planners, maps, shopping lists, file folders, and address books to keep routine information accessible. Designate a place at home for your glasses, purse, keys, and other items you use often. Remove clutter from your office or home to minimize distractions so you can focus on new information that you want to remember.

5. Repeat what you want to know

When you want to remember something you’ve just heard, read, or thought about, repeat it out loud or write it down. That way, you reinforce the memory or connection. For example, if you’ve just been told someone’s name, use it when you speak with him or her: “So, John, where did you meet Camille?” If you place one of your belongings somewhere other than its usual spot, tell yourself out loud what you’ve done. And don’t hesitate to ask for information to be repeated.

6. Space it out

Repetition is most potent as a learning tool when it’s properly timed. It’s best not to repeat something many times in a short period, as if you were cramming for an exam. Instead, re-study the essentials after increasingly longer periods of time — once an hour, then every few hours, then every day. Spacing out periods of study is particularly valuable when you are trying to master complicated information, such as the details of a new work assignment. Research shows that spaced rehearsal improves recall not only in healthy people but also in those with certain physically based cognitive problems, such as those associated with multiple sclerosis.

7. Make a mnemonic


This is a creative way to remember lists. Mnemonic devices can take the form of acronyms (such as RICE to remember first-aid advice for injured limbs: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) or sentences (such as the classic “Every good boy does fine” to remember the musical notes E, G, B, D, and F on the lines of the treble clef).”

Although in many ways, the medical profession had led us down the wrong road over the decades, this article appears to be realistic and most likely accurate. 

Yesterday, while on our drive we stopped to check out the scenery at this dam.

In reviewing the above seven points, it’s clear we’re doing everything possible based on this lifestyle, mostly unintentionally, to enhance our memory as we age.  


When I recall my mother’s dementia, I realize how limited her range of learning may have been as she aged.  Many seniors with severe medical problems find themselves sitting in front of a TV screen for most of each day.  In addition, many ill seniors may be taking multiple medications, having an impact on cognition and memory on a day to day basis.

Once we arrived at the hippo pool we spotted a few crocs.

A number of years ago I read Dr. David Perlmutter’s Book “Grain Brain” that further explains how consuming a high carbohydrate diet of grains, starches, and sugars grossly impact of our brains as we age.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who may be concerned with memory, regardless of age.


As a matter of fact, Dr. Perlmutter did an article on me as shown here in this post (with photos) on how eliminating inflammatory foods from my diet allowed us to travel the world.  Also, here’s the link from our post notifying our readers about the article.

We always enjoy taking a good croc headshot.

No, we don’t have all the answers to longevity and good health.  We learn what we can from what we hope are reliable sources and incorporate what we can into our daily lives.


One thing we do know is, should we ever falter in our memories of what we’ve been doing over these many past years, we can always look online and reread every single post.  That’s a perk we have gained from all these busy years, putting our story and photos together to share with all of you.


Hope your day provides you with an opportunity to engage in some of the above memory enhancing tools!

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Photo from one year ago today, September 25, 2017:

A turtle we spotted in a pond in Zarcera, Costa Rica.  For more photos, please click here.