Off to Nelspruit today for news on our visa extensions…

“Pig in a pond.” Little was having a spa day in the green algae.

In a little while, we’ll be heading to Nelspruit once again to collect the results from sealed envelopes to determine if our requests for visa extensions have been approved. Once again, the long and arduous drive is ahead of us. Knowing we had to leave early this morning prevented me from getting a good night’s sleep. I didn’t nod off until 2:00 am, awakening at 5:15.

I’m feeling raggedy today and will be happy to return to Marloth Park by noon with, hopefully, good news. So far, there’s no word on our April 8 cruise canceling. In a few more weeks, we’ll book our flight to Florida and begin thinking about sorting our stuff and starting to pack. We’ve been here almost 13 months. We were away for less than six weeks during that period, once to the US for a month to get vaccinated and another time to Zambia, getting new visa stamps in the process.

During these 13 months, on one occasion, President Cyril Ramaphosa extended foreign national’s visas for 90 days due to the pandemic, which certainly helped us. Today, we look forward to good news so we can stay until the end of March. That’s not very far away. If all goes well today, we could be leaving here in a little over six weeks.

Yesterday morning at Stoep Cafe, Rita and I ate one of these delicious veggie omelets.

Yesterday was another scorcher with high temps, high humidity, and subsequently, a high dew point. When we returned from Komati, put away all the groceries, and finished and uploaded the post, I was in no mood for cooking dinner. We decided to eat out.

We left the house about 5:15, heading to Bos Restaurant in the Bush Centre. But first, we had to stop at the Field Security Office to get a new battery for the house key fob they provide at the office across the parking lot from Bos. From there we went to Bos. But, after carefully reviewing their menu, I couldn’t find anything I could eat. Everything was soaked in sweet sauces.

What a funny-looking grasshopper!

There wasn’t a plain piece of fish or chicken to be had. We had one drink at the bar and left, driving the short distance to Giraffe Restaurant, where I knew they had a decent grilled chicken salad. Tom ordered the chicken schnitzel with chips (fries). The meal was good, the service excellent, and the ambiance was pleasant.

Although doors are always wide open at restaurants in Marloth Park, they keep their air-con on in hot weather, which seems to keep the establishment relatively comfortable on sweltering days and night. We ran into some people we knew, chatted for a bit, and then sat at a table and enjoyed our meal.

Hal with Siegfried and Roy in the background.

We are now back from Nelspruit. Our visa extensions were approved, giving us until April 30 to leave the country. We aren’t surprised it worked out this way. Had it not been for Omicron terrifying the world, we’d be in Florida today at Karen and Rich’s wedding. It was disappointing to have to change our plans. But now, we’re OK with the new plan, as much as we’d have preferred to be at their wedding.

Tonight will surely be a fun night at Jabula with eight of us for dinner at a big table on the veranda. It will be wonderful to catch up with old friends we haven’t seen since 2019.

I am wrapping it up a little short today. Although now much of a napper, I think a quick nap is on the agenda today. With the detour of my walking goals due to this morning’s trip to Nelspruit, I will still try to walk as much as possible before we leave for dinner later today.

Have a pleasant weekend!

Photo from one year ago today, February 11, 2021

A gray Lourie is checking out the action on the ground. For more photos, please click here.

Hot today!!!…103F, 39C…Fantastic dinner for eight at Amazing Kruger View…Seven days and counting…

The view from Amazing Kruger View, where eight of us gathered to say goodbye to Rita and Gerhard for dinner.

Once in a while, we dine at other restaurants besides Jabula, where we dine every Friday night and will do so as long as we’re in Marloth Park. We feel it’s essential to support the business of our friends, Dawn and Leon, owners of the popular, loved restaurant for its great food, playful ambiance, and exemplary service.

Last night, eight of us gathered at Amazing Kruger View (formerly known as Aamazing River View) as Rita and Gerhard’s previous dinner out in the bush before they depart for the USA tomorrow. They won’t be returning to Marloth Park until after we’ve left on January 23, 2022. Of course, we will miss them but will stay in touch via Whatsapp until we meet again.

Including in the group of eight beside us and Rita and Gerhard were Kathy and Don and Louise and Danie. What a perfect group we are. As always, the conversation flowed with ease. The food was quite good, and we may go there again on any day but a Friday.

It was sweltering last night as it is today. While we were at the restaurant dining outdoors, they used water misting pipes which helped keep it much cooler. Once we were situated at our table, we never gave the heat another thought. But today, it’s different and already darned uncomfortable already at 10:49 am. It’s 94F, 34C, and it’s expected to rise to over 100F, 38C, by 2:00 pm, 1400 hrs.

The glare of the sun made it challenging to identify these birds. They may have been some bee-eater.

We have our central air conditioning running, cooling the entire house, a huge expense in the summer months in our old lives. The only aircon is in the bedrooms and is very expensive to run, although it quickly cools the room with the door closed. Last night, we kept it on all night except when we had load shedding between 1:00 am and 3:30 am, during which I never slept a wink.

Supposedly, load shedding is suspended for an unknown period as of today. But, with this heat, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s instituted again in the next few days when considerable power is utilized during heat spells. Often, as described by local property owners/managers of holiday houses, some holidaymakers leave on the aircon in their rental, on full blast, while they spend the day in Kruger. It’s frustrating to hear about this since it impacts all of us when Eskom decides to stop power “to catch up” (So they say).

Ah, it’s the nature of the beast. Yesterday it was almost as hot as today, and we did fine all day. It’s much cooler inside, so we may sit on the sofa in the living room with the veranda door open, allowing us to see if any visitors come easily. If our wildlife friends come to call on such hot days, we certainly don’t ignore them. We have fresh water in both levels of the bird feeder, water in a bit of cup for Frank and The Misses and the chicks, and food it offered freely.

This morning I got up early to use the oven to bake chicken breasts for tonight’s dinner, hoping the house would cool off a little before the worst of the heat kicked in. Now, as I sit here next to Tom on the sofa, while we listen to Garage Logic, his favorite podcast from Minnesota, Frank and The Misses are eating the seeds and drinking the water. It always makes us smile to see them.

Three birds on a branch over the Crocodile River.

Yesterday morning when I got up, I noticed Frank was in the house once again. He loves coming inside to see what’s going on. He scurried under this sofa when he saw me and headed out the door, which was still ajar from when he entered. We never stop laughing over Frank coming indoors.

The only other time we had a bird walk into our house was in Australia when a magpie loved walking around the kitchen, looking for morsels of food that may have dropped onto the floor when we last cooked a meal.  We call such activity “crumb patrol.” In many countries, windows and doors are left wide open without screens, as is often the case here in Africa. Whereby in the US, if our kids left the door open, we’d holler, “Shut the door!”

You’d think that where there are many insects, both harmless and venomous, there would be screens on windows and doors in most countries. But both in Africa and Australia, where we have had the most insects, it would be different. Even In Italy, there were no screens, and we constantly were fighting off biting flies and horseflies. A bite from one of those flies lasted for days.

Geese in flight on the river.

Oddly, we don’t see a lot of flies here in Marloth Park. You’d think with all the animals and their dung, flies, would be prevalent. Instead, its bees, hornets, and other flying insects, along with multitudes of crawling, walking, and slithering creatures, more so as we rapidly approach summer in Africa.

We’re used to all of this. That doesn’t mean we don’t get hot and sweaty. We do, but the more hot days we experience, the less we notice them. It’s the same with insects. In our old lives, I’d scream if I saw a “bug.” Now, I hardly pay any attention unless it’s venomous and needs to be removed from the house. We’ll do what we can to get it safely outdoors if we can.

In one week from today, we’ll be on our way to Zambia, and we’re looking forward to a pleasant trip. On Wednesday, we’ll go to Komati to get a PCR test and have the results the following day, before we leave. Louise will print a copy for us along with a copy of our rental agreement when we re-enter, which is also a required document.

That’s it for today, folks! Have a fantastic day!

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

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day#205. Unable to get as close as we’d like due to the rough terrain in the Serengeti in 2013, we did our best to zoom in for this and other photos on the remaining wildebeests at the tail end of the Great Migration. For more, please click here.

Cheetah day!…Expressions of a cheetah in the wild…Fantastic sightings in Kruger National Park…

Based on our position in the line-up of vehicles our photo taking advantage was limited.  

“Sighting of the Day in The Bush”

The now-visiting-daily mongooses gather in a pile staring at us until Tom mixes up the bowl of eggs. I talk to them to keep them entertained while he prepares the eggs. We’re happy to feed them to keep them around to deal with snakes.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post here, when the power had gone out in the morning we decided to go to Kruger for the day. Not knowing when it would return and based on the high temperature of 42C (108F) it wasn’t such a bad idea to spend the better part of the day in the airconditioned little car.

These cats are easily distinguishable from leopards based on the dark tears running down their eyes.

Our expectations weren’t high on such a hot day. Would wildlife hide under trees and bush to take cover from the heat? No doubt, many did just that as we spotted many herds of impalas, kudus, and wildebeest seeking protection from the heat of the sun.

It was a mere week or so ago we’d been to Kruger traveling along the main paved road (one of few) that we observed the recent “controlled burn” leaving the bush along that road blackened for at least 45 minutes of the hour-plus drive to Lower Sabie. And yet, magically, it already seemed to be recovering.

Every so often, she’d change positions providing us with additional shots.

We decided to stop for breakfast at the Mugg & Bean restaurant in Lower Sabie which overlooks the Sabie River, often providing some good sightings and photo ops. After breakfast, we’d continue on our self-drive traveling on bumpy dirt roads. 

We watched the cheetah for quite a while but she never stood. In the scorching heat, she seemed comfortable in the shade.

The drive surpassed our expectations, especially when early on we noticed a number of safari vehicles driving down a dirt road to a loop we’d never noticed in the past. We believe based on the map that it was at Gasanftom Road/Gezantombi Waterhole/Watergat.

Moments after entering the loop, we encountered no less than eight safari vehicles with passengers hanging out the sides and windows with cell phones, cameras, and tablets in hand.

What a nice face!

They were obviously gushing with enthusiasm as to the creature before their eyes, a cheetah lying in the shade, awake, alert, and seemingly unaffected by the presence of the growing crowd.

Dozing for a moment?

Tom maneuvered the little car to the best possible vantage point and we too felt excited with this sighting. It was one of few cheetahs we’d seen in Kruger over these past many months. There was only one cheetah.

Sure, we’d like to have seen more cheetahs. But, as we’ve learned over this long period in Marloth Park/Kruger National Park, we’ve come to appreciate spotting “one” of any wild animal. Yes, numbers are exciting but it doesn’t diminish the power, grace, and beauty of any species.

She heard a sound in the bush.

Here are some facts about cheetahs, the second-fastest mammal on the planet, from Kruger’s site here:

“The Cheetah’s body is built for speed. Its legs are relatively long compared to its greyhound-like body; it has a big heart and lungs and wide nasal passages. It is the fastest land animal, timed running at speeds of up to 114km/h (71 mph). While the lion and the leopard rely on getting close to their intended prey before breaking cover, the cheetah’s speed gives it an advantage in the more open savanna. Cheetahs are slightly taller than leopards but not as bulky, probably weighing between 40kg (88 lbs) and 60kg (132 lbs). Although cheetahs are members of the cat family, they have dog-like non-retractable claws. This limits their tree-climbing ability but gives them a speed advantage when charging.

This lone cheetah seemed unperturbed by the clicking of cameras and numerous vehicles in the area. We couldn’t believe how thin she was. We’d seen cheetahs in the past but none looking quite this lean.

Typically, a cheetah will start a charge 60m (66 yards) to 100m (109 yards) from an antelope and, within seconds, will be racing at full tilt. If the buck is alerted in time, it will attempt to throw the cheetah off its trail by zigzagging and dodging between trees and shrubs. Using its long, heavy tail as a stabilizer, the cheetah will single-mindedly pursue its intended prey, trying to anticipate which way it will turn. At the right moment, it will knock the antelope off balance and grab it by the throat as it falls. Because of the relatively small jaws and teeth, cheetahs are not as effective in killing their prey as quickly as lions or leopards, and it can take between five and 25 minutes for its prey to die.

A little grooming was in order.

The element of surprise in hunting is as important for cheetahs as it is for other big predators. While its speed gives it an edge, the cheetah’s vulnerable point is its stamina. It will manage to run at top speed for only about 250m (273 yards) before it needs to catch its breath.

After a high-speed chase, the cheetah desperately needs to rest for about half an hour – even before it eats its prey. This is when cheetahs are at their most vulnerable. They are often robbed of their kill by lions or hyaenas during this recovery spell. If the cheetah is unmolested, it normally devours its prey at the kill site. A cheetah’s food tastes are not as broad as that of the leopard, and it concentrates mostly on small and medium antelope. The cheetah’s diet comprises of the young of larger animals, as well as warthog, ground birds, porcupines, and hares, as well as the smaller antelope. The cheetah’s kill rate is hard to determine, but the consensus is that each cheetah kills between 30 and 150 animals a year, depending on its size, hunting frequency, and the condition of the area. Experts believe a single cheetah ideally needs between one and three kilograms of meat a day to stay in shape.”

For the remainder of this story, please click the above link.
Lounging on a hot day in Kruger.
After the cheetah sighting, we encountered several equally exciting wildlife scenes, which we’ll continue to share in posts over the next several days. Please check back for more.
As for today, it’s hot again, similar to yesterday’s unseasonal heat. It’s still winter here for a few more days! As we write here today sitting outdoors on the veranda, it’s currently 35C (95F) and we’re doing fine.  
We’ve got the braai (grill) fired up and cooking tonight’s chicken dinner in the event of a power outage at dinnertime which can easily transpire with added power usage during the hot weather.

We hope you have a fantastic day whether it’s hot or cool or a balmy almost-fall or almost-spring day!

Photo from one year ago today, September 19, 2017:

“The variegated squirrel is a tree squirrel in the genus Sciurus found in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, southern Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama. Fifteen subspecies are recognized.”  Tom spotted this squirrel in the yard, alerted me and I took this photo through the glass wall to avoid scaring it away.  For more photos, please click here.

Hot, hot, hot…42C, 108 F…We went to Kruger…Hornbills preparing for mating season…

This is not a birdfeeder.  This is an abandoned bushbaby house that our 12 bushbabies don’t care to use.  These male and female hornbills have recently taken seeds from our birdfeeder and placed them inside the bush baby house.

“Sighting of the Day in The Bush”

These four bushbucks, two moms, and two babies know the drill. Stand at the bottom of our veranda steps, and you’ll get pellets and ice-cold lettuce, celery tops, carrots, and apples. When we returned from Kruger a short time ago, they were waiting there for us. They sure appreciated it today.

Today’s post will be more compact than usual. We just returned from a full day at Kruger National Park and the time available to get it done before our evening ritual on the veranda begins at 1700 hours (5:00 pm) is limited.

We’re assuming they’re preparing this house as a future nesting spot since we see them do this almost daily.  They both come to peer inside to check out their handiwork.
When they’re satisfied with their day’s work, they head back to the birdfeeder for a bit of sustenance for themselves, as shown below.

With temperatures expected in the 42C (108F) range, it made a lot of sense to spend the better part of the day in airconditioned comfort in the little car while driving through Kruger searching for magical moments.

On top of it, the sugar cane burning fires filled the air with so much smoke getting away was a perfect scenario. We began packing our iced teas, camera, batteries, passports, and prefilled-out Kruger entrance document and were on our way in no time at all.

Here’s the mating pair filling up in preparation for the upcoming spring mating season.

It was still earlier enough in the day not to feel the magnitude of the expected temps, but we dressed in shorts and tee shirts, ready for however hot it may eventually reach.  

This young male kudu has a long way to go in his maturity to become a “Big Daddy eventually.”  In the interim, we’re thrilled to provide him with pellets when he stops by.

With a plan to stop at the Mugg & Bean Restaurant in Lower Sabie for breakfast or lunch, we knew we’d be spending our time there, outdoors in the hot weather on their veranda overlooking the Sabie River but didn’t give it a thought. This is Africa. It gets hot here.

And, for those of our readers in other parts of the world, it’s still winter here.  Spring begins in the next few days as fall begins north of the equator. We haven’t forgotten how hot it is here in the summer months.  

His horns (not antlers…they don’t lose these) will eventually make another twist as he matures.

Almost five years ago, we spent three months here during the heat of summer. It was hot and sweaty. We managed, as we’ll work now. In some countries, homes may have full-house airconditioning as we experienced in our old lives.  

Elephants we spotted from the fence in Marloth Park during yesterday’s drive.

In Africa and in many other countries worldwide that cater to tourists, air conditioning is only provided in bedrooms by use of an on-the-wall unit that generally keeps the sleeping quarters comfortable, which is the case here.

Right now, on the veranda, it is exactly as stated above. But, when anywhere else in the house, the heat is felt full-on. Perhaps, by the time we prep the veranda for the evening, the temps will begin to subside. In any case, we won’t be missing a night outdoors due to the heat.  

It’s common to see elephants at the Crocodile River on these hot days.

In our old lives, we’d never had sat outside in such hot weather, preferring to stay cool and comfortable indoors. But, as we always say, “This is Africa,” It’s not like our old lives.

And today, while in Kruger, we’re especially reminded of how unlike our day was compared to any day in times long ago remembered. This is a different life now, not to compare, although it’s irresistible to mention the vast difference at times.

So here’s how the day rolled out. This morning as I was getting ready for the day, we experienced a power outage. With no power for WiFi, we decided today would be a perfect day to head to Kruger.

We can’t wait to share today’s photos in tomorrow’s post. We took so many good photos, and it will take days until we get through the bulk of them we’d like to share here.
Please check back tomorrow for some first-time-sightings (for us) that Kruger bestowed upon us in her magical and mysterious ways.

Have a great evening!  We plan on it!

Photo from one year ago today, September 18, 2017:

At the Atenas Railway Museum in Costa Rica, Juan Ramon was excited to show us this bottle with a marble inside.  For more photos, please click here.