It’s different in the park during the holiday season…New video…

Note: Due to the lack of wildlife visitors during the holiday season, other than these in the above video, we are seriously lacking in photos. After the first of the year, when most tourists depart the park, we’ll have plenty of new images to share.

Last night, on our way back to Jabula for our regular Saturday night dinner, there were numerous vehicles on the road, more than we’d seen in a long time. Walking into the bar, we noticed a couple occupying our usual seats. Instead, we sat to their right at two empty barstools.  We started talking to them in no time, and the conversation was ensured throughout the evening.

We had a nice dinner again, seated at the bar close to one of the air-con units which was turned on when load shedding ended. Dawn was ultra-busy with the countless guests, but everything ran smoothly with her hard work supplemented by her competent and friendly staff. As always, it was delightful to chat with Dawn and Leon.

Load shedding is quite a challenge for restaurants and businesses. Constant attention to generators running, food preservation, and patron satisfaction creates a lot of stress for owners and managers. Often, customers are from South Africa and are used to load shedding since few areas in the country are exempt from the ongoing shut-offs. But still, when people come here for a much-needed and often barely affordable holiday in this magical place, they become frustrated with the inconveniences.

When paying for a vacation/holiday, guests often expect perfection, and rightfully so. But the ideal scenario is not to be had when visitors come here. Unbearable heat, much hotter than in the big cities, humidity, rain this time of year, insects, snakes, and a possible 11½ hours a day without power can result in complaints.

Also, every few weeks, there seems to be an issue with the reservoir due to load shedding, which only exacerbates the frustration expressed by visitors. Plus, with all the extra people here, the animals often go into hiding. This further frustrates tourists when they come for a long weekend and hardly see wild animals, inspiring them to visit here in the first place.

Since it’s so hot now, we decided to make a cold dinner for tonight, our favorite bread-free subway sandwiches, which we call “unwiches,” like the popular takeaway restaurant in the US, Jimmy John’s, where we first discovered these breadless sandwiches and copied the concept for our use, modifying them to our taste.

This morning I prepped the tomatoes, purple onions, cheese slices, bacon, and lettuce and made a salad to go with the unwiches. It’s a perfect hot-weather day meal. We have enough deli meats, cheese, and vegetables to last for three dinners. Each day, I’ll cut up more fresh vegetables, cook a new batch of bacon and make another coleslaw salad.

Today is a lazy day. The heat and humidity have taken their toll. With few animals visiting, we’re spending some time in our bedroom, staying cool with the powerful fan turned on with an occasional burst of cool air by turning on the air con when we have power for a few minutes. This will probably be our fate over the next few weeks while we wait for the holiday season to end and for things to return to normal.

Last night, after returning from Jabula, we watched the Minnesota Vikings game on Tom’s streaming app, NFL Game Pass. It was quite a shocking game, considered the biggest-ever NFL “comeback.” It was fun to see the turnaround in the second half and subsequent overtime.

Have a fantastic day, and be well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 18, 2021:

Fluffy was the king of Lionspruit, the game reserve within Marloth Park. In the past year, he passed away. Not our photo. For more, please click here.

Day #267 in lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…President of South Africa spoke last night…Holding our breath…

Colorful trees were blooming in the neighborhood.

Today’s photos are from 2015 while living in Pacific Harbour, Viti Levu, Fiji, where we spent the Christmas holidays. For more, please click here.

The Christmas season is upon the world, and for most, this will be a very different holiday than most years. With gatherings being held to a minimum with COVID-19 restrictions, which we hope people will observe for their safety and the safety of loved ones and friends, it will be an unusual year.

Access to the Qaraniquo river in the neighborhood.

The rollout of the vaccine couldn’t come soon enough. But, from what we’re reading on the news (accurate or not), many developing countries such as South Africa will only have enough to vaccinate only one-tenth of the population, which ultimately won’t offer any global protection to its people and visitors.

This article explains that this developing country cannot afford the low-temperature equipment to store the vaccine at adequate below zero temperatures safely. With this in mind, we doubt we’ll be able to get the vaccine if we so choose while in South Africa. Emerging the virus will continue to rage in the country while we’re there. We’re hoping to remain safe in Marloth Park.

What happened to this tree? It appears there’s been a human intervention.

Last night South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa conducted a speech about the rise in cases. Here is the link to the full text of his speech. In Johannesburg, our dear friends, Linda and Ken, watched the speech on TV and reported the results to me by text. Of course, I was concerned the borders would be closed once again, shutting down tourism, subsequently preventing us from flying out on January 12, 2021.

Thankfully, no such action is being taken at this point. Many of the restrictions imposed by Cyril during the past nine months are again re-enacted as Covid-19 cases rise, such as no alcohol sold over the weekends, curfews at 10:00 pm, mandatory mask-wearing, handwashing, and social distancing in any public venues, shops, restrictions on the number of people attending celebrations, and more, all of which is subject to fines or six months in jail if violated.

Flowering shrubs line the boulevard.

However, we do not doubt that the first time we head to Komatipoort and its overly crowded streets and shops, that mask-wearing will be at a minimum. In that case, we’ll choose to shop in small, less well-stocked shops in Marloth Park as needed. We will drive to Komatipoort for pellets for the wildlife since this purchase enables us to stay in the car while the trunk is loaded with the 40 kg (88 pounds) bags.

We’ll figure it all out, even without the vaccine, and do our best to avoid contracting the virus, taking every possible precaution. At this point, our imminent concern is getting there safely when flying on three flights and going through four airports in the process.

We’d never encountered this particular flower.

Of course, everything could change in the next 28 days when we head to the Mumbai International Airport for our flight in the middle of the night. Suppose gatherings during the holiday season, resulting in even more outrageous increases in cases in South Africa. In that case, Cyril could easily decide to close the borders again, crippling the much-needed tourism business in the country.

Thanks to Linda and Ken for updating me late last night. I couldn’t fall asleep anyway, knowing this speech was imminent at 8:00 pm, South Africa time, and midnight here in India. By 1:15 am, I finally drifted off to a night filled with dreams about Christmas and buying gifts while living in various houses in my distant past.  Hum…

It was only a short walk from our holiday home to the river.

Have a pleasant day.

Photo from one year ago today, December 15, 2019:

We attended a brunch with Tom’s sisters and spouses at the resort in Arizona, highlighting “omelets in a bag.” Here is Tom’s three-egg omelet after it came out of the bag. For more photos, please click here.

A day at the beach…Cloudy, yet fun and fulfilling…A year ago, an ironic visitor on Christmas Day!

Yesterday, Tracy took this underwater photo using their GoPro camera. She said he was much larger than appears in this photo.

Christmas is over. Santa came and went. Laughter wafted through the air as the grandkids played with the items Santa had placed in their stockings, in our case Santa hats, when the evacuating store in Pahoa was out of stockings.

I put their names on the hats by making block letter cutouts using the cards from a box of $.60 Christmas cards and glue. We attached the hats with the contents stuffed inside with a variety of interesting rocks, shells, and stones in various packages we’d purchased at the Lyman Library.

Tide pools Onekahakaha Beach Park in Hilo where we spent the day on Christmas.

We included the usual grandparent requisite gift, a Visa gift card so when bored, they can begin looking on their tablets what they’d like to purchase when they return to Minnesota.

Making and packing enough food for 14 for a full day was definitely challenging, to ensure we had everything everyone would like. We did our best and it ultimately turned out well which included.

Burgers, brats, hotdogs, and buns with sliced cheeses
Foil packs with diced potatoes (Tom peeled)
Bacon, Almond, and Raisin Broccoli Salad
Roasted Vegetables
Cut up cantaloupe and pineapple
Sliced tomatoes, onions, lettuce

Tom on Christmas Day at the park.

Then, of course, we hauled paper products, beach towels, lawn chairs (Tammy and Tracy purchased two folding chairs for Tom and me), two small grills, water toys and it goes on and on. Three vehicles were loaded to the gills with people and “stuff.”

It rained off and on all day. Luckily, Sarah kept her eye on an available covered pavilion and shortly after we arrived we were in luck. Being undercover all day made it possible to enjoy ourselves chatting and watching the kids.

We were in good spirits and ended up sharing food with a man sitting near us as, apparently alone on Christmas. He had a boom box playing Hawaii rap music but later changed it to a more mellow variety, adding to the festivities of the day.

With the flurry of activities at the beach, it was tough to get a photo of everyone together.

All of us cooked in shifts for each family. Tom and I usually don’t eat until early evening but the smell of the meat on the grill put us right on track with the others, wolfing down the good food. TJ said he’d never had a burger on Christmas Day. How true it was for all of us.

Many spent hours in the water snorkeling, reveling in the fish, eels, and sea turtles.  Vincent didn’t get out of the shallow tide pools until long after we had lunch. Maisie, Miles, and Madighan, new to snorkeling, couldn’t get enough. Nik and Jayden now with us for three weeks, couldn’t get enough.

Birds at the beach peeking on beach-goers leftovers.

And, of course, Tammy, Tracy, Greg, and Camille, spent time with the kids in the tide pools while TJ and Sarah hung out with us under the pavilion. All of us were in awe as to what they could see, excited to share it with the grandkids.

Home by 5:00 pm to whale watch, nibble on leftovers and snacks, it was a laid back evening befitting all of us.

A rainbow, a perfect finish to the day..

I spoke to my sister on Skype and later chatted with son Richard on Facebook. There were many others I’d have like to speak with to wish Merry Christmas. Time somehow slipped away as it often does.

Last night’s crescent moon.

Today, the kids are leaving for beach activities and a few staying behind with us. We have no doubt it will be another good day.

May all of you have a stupendous day after Christmas. We plan to do the same.

                                          Photo from one year ago today, December 26, 2013:

Mr. Kudu was standing near our carport in Marloth Park on Christmas morning last year. Tom teased me stating, “Here’s your Christmas gift, Sweetie.” That was all I needed!  For details from that date, please click here.