Out and about in the park…Fabulous sightings, even on a rainy day..Odd ossicones…

What’s with the uneven ossicones? We couldn’t stop laughing!

It’s been a week since we shopped and as much as we preferred to wait until next Monday with the roads so bad, we needed a few vital ingredients. Instead of driving to Komatipoort in the rain, we decided to stop at one of the two local markets for the items we needed now including eggs, cheese, tea bags, and sparkling water.

As has been the case every night over the past many weeks, it rained all night long and is pouring now as I write this, only minutes after our return from the trip to the local market. Our garden is still muddy but it rained so hard, the uneven clumps of mud have smoothed out, creating a better base for the wildlife.

While returning to our house, we spotted Vusi’s truck trying to maneuver his way past the giraffes on the way to our house!

Yesterday, while peering out the kitchen window to the end of our long driveway, for the first time, we saw the ostrich family walking past, and an hour later, four or five giraffes, There was no way we could have put on our shoes and made it down the muddy driveway in time for photos. Nor could we have driven the car down there in time, scaring them off in the process.

Regardless of what some naysayers may acknowledge about Marloth Park’s wildlife being tame, they are ill-advised. Although an animal may tentatively engage with a human in the park, they are still wild and when we are not there to feed them, they care for themselves, foraging for food, shelter, and comfort in this wild bush environment.

Lounging in the grass. I’d imagine giraffe’s joints might be painful in such awful humidity.

The fear that many homeowners and park enthusiasts like us possess, is that, eventually, all the empty stands (lots) will be built upon, leaving less wildlife area for the animals to freely forage and live in the true wild. That could transpire in the next 10 to 20 years or even sooner.

The reality for us is that most likely in the years to come, should we be fortunate to live long lives, we may not be able to return to the park for the enjoyment we are deriving at this period in time.  Only the unknown future will present such options as time goes by.

Safari luck! Love seeing the giraffes!

No one knows, once they reach 80 years old or older, (or any age for that matter) what the future holds. We can only hope to maintain a level of fitness, health, and well-being that will allow us to continue to travel as far out as seven years from now when I reach 80. Gosh, I have a hard time digesting this reality when in a mere five days, on February 20th, I’ll reach my 73rd birthday.

That in itself is mind-boggling. It was only yesterday that I was 30 years old, or even 43 years old when I met Tom in 1991. In June, we’ll have been together for 30 years. In itself, that’s hard to wrap our brains around. The past 30 years seem to have flown by. But, regardless of how much time any of us may have left on this earth, we still strive to make each day meaningful and worthwhile.

Could giraffes be any more adorable?

I know, it may seem easy for us to say about living enriched lives when all we do is continue to travel and to immerse ourselves in our immediate surroundings. But, even in that hotel room for 10 months in Mumbai, India, we had many moments of meaning and purpose. And, of course, even our old lives were rich in experiences, love, and purpose from which we derived great joy.

Why did we choose to change it? And, why don’t we return to that life?

Handsome male duiker in the bush this morning.

We chose to travel the world for two simple reasons: that we could and that we wanted to. We could step outside the box of the  “expected” lifestyle for most seniors to embrace a lifestyle so far removed from our familiar reality, with adventure, excitement and challenge, all the while sharing the story with readers throughout the world.

The second question, “Why don’t we return to that life?” We don’t want to return to the hustle and bustle of a busy life in the US, the traffic, the cold weather and snow, the negativity in the news, the constant pressure of having to live a life commensurate with what is “expected of us.” This way, we live life on our terms, all the while sharing our story, exciting or mundane, with all of you.

Bending down for a morsel.

If and when we return to that life, based on who we know we are, we will make the best of it and once again find joy, love, and purpose in whatever may come our way. The difficult part would be continuing to be able to write here, with content that would appeal to our worldwide readers. That, dear friends, will always be the dilemma. I don’t want this part to end.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, February 15, 2020:

This giant 108-feet-high idol of Hanuman was unveiled at Jakhoo Hanuman temple in Shimla on November 4, 2010. For more, please click here.

First trip to a grocery store and pharmacy in over a year!…Precautions prevail…

How can you not love this face?

It’s the first time in over a year that either of us, in our adult lives hadn’t been in a grocery store or pharmacy. Fortunately, since we’d shopped in Komatipoort in 2018/2019 we remembered the layout of both stories, reducing the time necessary to be in the crowded shops.

The pharmacy felt safer than I’d expected with an employee at the door, taking shopper’s temperatures and ensuring the hand sanitizer was used before entering. Taking temperatures is no certain means of a shopper not being infected, who may not be symptomatic. Signs were posted everywhere stating, “Do Not Enter if You Suspect You Have Covid-19.”

Here again, the pharmacy might be the first place an infected person may go to buy various products to combat the symptoms or fill a prescription. A woman coughed within a meter of me. People weren’t properly wearing their masks or making any effort to social distance, including employees stocking the shelves and helping customers.

Nice profile.

But, I was as well protected as I could be, barring wearing PPE. I had on my N99 mask, a face shield, and rubber gloves. I then ditched the gloves into an appropriate trash container, the moment I left the store, putting on a new pair after using hand sanitizer in the car and donning a fresh pair of gloves for the grocery store. I don’t know what more I could have done.

The grocery store felt less safe when I had to ask the outdoor attendant to spray my trolley handle. When Tom came into the store I suggested I continue to handle the trolley, not him, since I was more well-protected. He loaded up the food at the register and paid the bill, which came to ZAR 4713, USD $312.77.

We’d purchased enough food to last two weeks, except for some mince (ground beef) which we’ll purchase at the meat market at the Bush Centre in Marloth Park in the next few weeks, which appears to be of a higher quality than offered at the Spar Market.

This youngster’s parents were in the background keeping an eye out for their boy.

By carefully gauging how much we purchased, somehow I managed to fit all the meat into the smallish freezer that consists of a number of drawers. Also, we had to leave a few drawers empty for ice for our ice cube trays, which Tom empties nightly for a full supply of cubes for the next day.

Keeping in mind how hot it is here, we certainly go through the ice while drinking our Crystal Light iced tea all day. For example, right now at 1:00 pm, it’s 93F, 34C, and the humidity is 77%. Toasty. Sticky. Rain on the horizon.

It was interesting to observe how careless the people in Komatipoort are wearing masks, as they are all over the world. (Hmm, need I even reiterate this worldwide phenomenon?) Many people mingled in large groups outside shops, on the streets, and in the Spar parking lot, no mask, no social distancing. We steered clear of everyone.

Young citrus trees.

Before grocery shopping, we stopped at the Obaro hardware store in Komati but when they didn’t have what we wanted, we hightailed out of there in a mad dash. No one was properly wearing a mask. Most were wearing cotton scarfs or homemade cotton masks that kept falling off of their faces.

Eventually, people tend to stop trying to put the masks back on, ending up working in the shops with either no mask at all or it was hanging off their chins. It’s no wonder the numbers of cases of Covid in South Africa and all over the world have continued to rise. One need only check out the world stats to see cases are still on the rise. (In reviewing this report, it’s important to click on “yesterday,” since today’s stats aren’t yet included).

Within a few hours, we were back at the house, feeling relieved the grocery shopping for two weeks was over. In the heat, we hurriedly put the perishables away and organized the remainder. Now, we’re situated on the veranda while every hour or so, I’ll return indoors to work on the treadmill, to complete each of my four daily sessions.

This bridge was underwater, less than one hour later.

I turn on the air-con in the second bedroom about five minutes before I get on the treadmill, do my thing while listening to podcasts on my phone, and turn everything off when I leave the room a short time later. I am not walking as long a distance as I had on level ground in the corridors in India. The treadmill is raised to be a medium grade, which requires more work for shorter distances. That’s fine with me.

When we returned to the house, we found Frank standing at the glass sliding door peering inside. Apparently, he was looking for seeds. We couldn’t accommodate him quickly enough. He chirped happily as he pecked at the seeds. No other wildlife yet today. With storms foreboding, the wildlife stays undercover

May you have a safe and pleasant day, wherever you may be.

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

Typical scene on a busy street in Mumbai. For more photos, please click here.

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!

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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!

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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.