Busy day in Komatipoort…Impressed with medical care, costs and prescriptions in small town in South Africa…

“To graze on that many leaves, giraffes usually spend 16 to 20 hours per day standing and walking. Amazingly, giraffes don’t need much sleep despite their long days of exercising and eating. They often only get 30 minutes to 2 hours of sleep every 24 hours from the short naps they take throughout the day.”

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

This rather large gecko was a new visitor, spending most of the day and evening on the veranda.

Many tourists and part and full-time residents choose not to have vaccinations, other than the required Yellow Fever as mentioned in a prior post.  If we were “regular” tourists visiting Africa for a two-week holiday/vacation, we may have done the same.

Note the size of the gecko in relation to Tom’s water shoe.

However, as we continue to travel the world visiting many countries where certain diseases are rampantly escalating, we’d decided a long time ago to be cautious and keep vaccinations up-to-date as often as possible.

We’re thrilled to see birds stopping by our feeder.  According to our friend, Lynne these tiny birds are blue waxbills.

There were a few for which we’d fallen behind in getting boosters over this past almost six years.  When we met with Dr. Theo a few times over these past weeks (located at Rissik Medical Centre, 71 Rissik Street, Komatipoort, Komatiepoort, 1340, phone #27 013 793 7306), he diligently reviewed our vaccination records.

Each night I practice taking photos in the dark once the bushbabies arrive.

He made excellent suggestions as to how we can be up-to-date on all of those he deemed necessary based on our ages, health, and exposure through our travels and also that we should be re-vaccinated in 2022.

Proud giraffe standing in the bush as we drove past on one of our drives.

Yesterday was my turn for a grouping of vaccines compiled into two injections, one in each arm.  One of the injections was slightly more painful than the other and my arm was a little sore last night but is greatly improved today.  Tom experienced the same scenario when he had his injections last week.

Epipens cost in the US is ZAR 7531.07, (US $600) for a pack of two.  We purchased two yesterday for ZAR 2126.79 (US $169.44).  (In either case, these prices are based on out-of-pocket costs, not insurance paid).

As for any other medical issues we needed to address, with caution to avoid jinxing myself (slightly superstitious, I guess), my gastrointestinal issue is improving.  I am off all medication for this issue.  I feel discomfort if I eat too much at any one meal or drink too much liquid in any one setting.  But I am feeling better utilizing these limitations.

Yesterday, we purchase two EpiPens at the local pharmacy which did require a prescription from Dr. Theo.  See pricing on receipt posted here. 

Based on the improvement and Dr. Theo’s observation at this point there’s no need for a number of invasive tests.  Let’s face it, as we age, most of us find we must adapt to some changes in our lives to accommodate medical issues of one kind or another. 

Many of our readers have written describing how they’d love to travel the world but have, knee, hip and back problems that make travel difficult if not impossible.  Instead, they live vicariously through us which means so much to us both. 

My bill for multiple vaccines I had yesterday by Dr. Theo Stronkhorst in Kpmatipoort.  Tom’s bill was identical last week.  Our total cost for two office visits and vaccines for each of us was rand (ZAR) 1707.81 for a grand total of ZAR 3415.62 (US $272.12). 

We only wish everyone who desired to do so, could live this peculiar life, generally on the move.  We continue to be grateful each and every day that we’ve been able to continue on even with some issues along the way.  This gastro thing has plagued me for the past 2½ years. 

Now, this morning I can sip on my organic herbal tea and not suffer any ill effects.  This is a big deal.  I haven’t tried drinking coffee yet and have decided to give it several more months until I do working my way up to one or two cups a day, if possible.  I really do miss morning coffee!

Tom’s favorite bushbuck, “My Girl” is a frequent visitor.

During my doctor appointment, Tom went to Obara, the farm store in Komatipoort, to purchase two more bags of pellets.  Now, we have an inventory of three 40 kg bags, enough to last for weeks.  The animals continue to visit throughout the days and evenings.

This baby bushbuck has grown considerably over these past few months.

Today, the weather is perfect with clear skies with a cool and comfortable breeze wafting through the air.  We couldn’t be more content and at ease.  Later today, a drive through the park may be on the agenda!

May your day bring you contentment and ease as well! 

______________________________________


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

Canadian geese are pretty birds but poop two pounds per day in the grass, a real nuisance for homeowners, particularly those living on a lake, as we did in our old lives.  For more Minnesota photos, please click here.

Observance for fallen soldiers on Memorial Day in the US…Filling in the blanks…While the world spins around us…

We moved the bird feeder further from the veranda which without our looming presence has attracted birds at last.  Our prize of the day was this hornbill who stopped by for some seeds.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Nothing like a croc to peak one’s interest when wildlife spotting on the aptly named Crocodile River.

Today is Memorial Day in the US, a special day for observance for fallen soldiers in any wars as described here from this site:

Memorial Day
Graves at Arlington on Memorial Day.JPG

The gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery are decorated by U.S. flags on Memorial Day weekend in 2008.
Official name Memorial Day
Observed by United States
Type National
Observances Remembrance of American soldiers who have died in military service
Date Last Monday in May
2017 date May 29
2018 date May 28
2019 date May 27
2020 date May 25
Frequency Annual
“Memorial Day or Decoration Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces.[1] The holiday, which is currently observed every year on the last Monday of May, will be held on May 28, 2018. The holiday was held on May 30 from 1868 to 1970. It marks the unofficial start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end.
Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries.
Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day – Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, whereas Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans. It is also not to be confused with Armed Forces Day, a minor U.S. remembrance celebrated earlier in May, which specifically honors those currently serving in the U.S. military.”


We offer love and prayer for those who lost loved ones during wars, not only in the US but also all over the world. 

Although we are far away from our home country, we still hold this special day in high regard for those who served our country.

Most on photo safaris long to see the “cats.”  But sightings aren’t all that common.  While in Kruger last week, we spotted this cheetah at quite a distance, too far for a good photo.

In the US, this is a national holiday where all public businesses and buildings are closed and yet many stores remain open for big spring sales of clothing and merchandise.  Most often citizens celebrate by holding barbecues, picnics and also traveling to other locations to visit family members and friends.

Sometimes we scramble the eggs and place them in a bowl.  At other times, Tom places a half dozen or so on the ground letting them figure out how they’re distributed.  It’s funny to watch them pick up the egg and bang it on the ground or on a tree root to crack it.

Camping, boating, and fishing are common in many states during the three day weekend, especially in our original home state of Minnesota.  This is also a time when traffic accidents (and other incidences) are prevalent with the high volume of vehicles on the road.

May everyone observing this special day have a safe and stress-free experience while many take advantage of this time off work or school. One can never be too careful during these high-risk times.

This is a Hadada ibis.   It’s a very noisy bird we hear overhead each night at dusk.

Here in South Africa, it’s another Monday.  Last night’s massive rainstorm, miraculously without any power outages in Marloth Park, was a much-needed blessing for wildlife.  Water holes, ponds, and rivers are replenished with much-needed sources for the wildlife and locals.

Even our small cement pond in the yard is replenished today from the heavy stream of rainwater last night.  This morning the sun is shining, although a little overcast and the birds are singing their special tunes.

Between the helmeted guinea fowl, the dozens of mongoose and much more, we can hardly keep up! 

We’ve had a plethora of visitors all morning including kudus, guinea fowl, mongoose and bushbucks keeping us busy up until a while ago when I needed to sit down to get to work on today’s post.

“Wildebeest live in large herds, composed of animals of both sex and their offspring. Life in the herd provides protection against predators. Main predators of wildebeest are lions, hyenas, cheetahs and African wild dogs. During mating season, breeding groups composed of around 150 animals will be created.”

We had a human visitor this morning, our friend Kathy, who dropped off some grocery items we hadn’t been able to find at the Spar or other supermarkets in Komatipoort. 

She and husband Don, both great friends of ours just returned from their home in Pretoria.  She shopped for me in the much more well-equipped markets in this bigger city with a population of over 2 million.  Thanks, Kathy, for shopping for us!

“The heaviest land mammal has a weight up to 6 short tons (5.4 t), the African elephant. This enormous mammal measures approximately 24 feet (7.3 m), and eats 500 pounds (230 kg) of vegetation like grasses and leaves a day.”

We reimbursed Kathy for the expenditures, chatted for a bit and she was on her way.  Soon, we’ll be planning some social time together while they spend a few weeks back here in Marloth Park.

Watching elephants from the Marloth Park side of the Crocodile River.

In an hour, we’ll be off to Komatipoort for my final doctor appointment for vaccinations.  We’ll stop to purchase more pellets, visit the pharmacy for a few items and return to Marloth Park to spend the remainder of the afternoon on our usual drive, in search of more wonders of this spectacular area.

To our friends, family and readers in the US, have a safe Memorial Day and stay well and happy.

______________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, May 28, 2017:

In Minnesota, it was raining in sheets during the drive back to our hotel around 8:00 pm, typical for this time of year.  For more details, please click here.

Plunge, twist and release…To vaccinate or not to vaccinate…A visit to a local river view restaurant…

 
Yesterday afternoon, the view from the restaurant, aptly named, Amazing River View located in Marloth Park.  They appear to have good food at decent prices along with free WiFi.  Guess we’ll be heading that way again one day or evening soon.
“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”
Beautiful sunset two evenings ago on our return drive from Komatipoort.

It was on March 28, 2012, that I started a series of many vaccinations as we prepared to travel the world.  The first dose I received is documented here on that long ago date.  Tom started his injections a few months later, work schedule permitting.

Many travelers come to Africa only receiving the required-for-entry Yellow Fever vaccine, preferring to take their chances on many other potentially communicable diseases. 

While seated at Amazing River View restaurant, we zoomed in for a few croc photos while they basked in the warm afternoon sun.

Many residents we’ve asked from South Africa, USA and other parts of the world, have stated they do not get any vaccines or take any malarial prophylactics.  None seem to have contracted any major disease during their time in South Africa.

We took a course of Malarone over the past few weeks (which goes by many different names in many countries) in preparation for our trip to Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. The final, one pill a day course ends today. 

Cattle egrets love to hang around with large mammals, eating their scrap and insects.

At that point, we’ll be winging it for malaria instead diligently applying repellent with DEET three times a day on all exposed skin. I know, many people object to the use of DEET and suggest we try many other non-chemical repellents.  Unfortunately, after trying many “natural” repellents, we still got mosquitos bites.


Are mosquitoes rampant here in Marloth Park?  Not so much.  Having been here since February which was still summer when we arrived, (summer ends on March 21st in this part of the world), the mozzies weren’t too bad. 

This croc was lounging in the tall grass along the river.

Wearing repellent day and night and by using a variety of candle-lit insect repellents near our feet at night, we seldom are bitten.  Overall in the three and a half months, we’ve been here, I’ve received no more than a dozen bites.  Zero bites would be ideal but not necessarily do-able in this type of climate.

Once we arrived in Africa we knew it was time for booster vaccinations although many, such as Yellow Fever, are only needed once every 10 years or according to Dr. Theo Stonkhorst, is good for life. On Thursday, we headed to Dr. Theo’s office for our vaccinations. 

Serene view from the restaurant often includes wildlife sightings.

When I asked Dr. Theo if any of the vaccines contained the preservative Thimerosol to which I have an allergy, he read the accompanying literature but didn’t feel comfortable giving me the vaccines until he verified the ingredients with the drug company that Thimerosol wasn’t included in any of the shots I needed. 

He checked on Friday, leaving me a text message suggesting I return on Monday for my shots when he discovered none of the vaccines contained Thimerosol.

We could hear hippos from this location but they were hidden behind the vegetation.

We’ve decided not to list which vaccines we received other than the typhoid booster.  We feel that decision if best left to your doctor and/or travel clinic.  Age, potential exposure, the location of travels and health conditions play a role in determining which vaccines, if any, other than the required Yellow Fever are appropriate for you.

Tom went ahead and had his vaccines on Thursday. We left the doctor’s office waiting to determine my fate based on the Thimerosol allergy and if, in fact, it is a preservative used in the vaccines. As it turned out, it was not. On Monday at noon, we’ll return to Dr. Theo’s office when I’ll have the balance of my injections.

This fast moving bird made it difficult to get a good photo.  Thanks to our friend Louise in Kauai Hawaii for identifying this bird as an African jacana.

Tom had two injections (each containing a few different vaccines), one in each arm, with no ill effects.  Much to our shock, the bill for the office visit and the vaccines was only ZAR 1700 (US $136.01).  In the US, this cost could have been eight or nine times this amount.

A tiny island of blooming vegetation in the Crocodile River.

As mentioned in several of today’s captions, yesterday we had a great afternoon visiting the restaurant referred to as “Amazing River View” aka Serene Oasis, located on the Crocodile River only five minutes away. 

An Egyptian goose standing on a mossy rock in the river.

We’d intended to do our usual drive in Marloth Park, on which we embark every other day. But, when we drove into the beautiful park where the restaurant is located, looking for a working ATM (both machines at the two shopping centers were “out of service,” most likely out of cash on a Friday) and we saw the restaurant had an ATM, we decided to get cash and enjoy a beverage while overlooking the river.

Once we entered Marloth Park, we spotted a few giraffes close to the paved road.

It was a wise decision.  We had an excellent experience sitting in the outdoor bar where we had perfect views of the river.  By 4:00 pm we were back “home” to finish a few items for our dinner planned for 7:00 pm on the veranda.  It was a great day and evening.

Tonight, Louise, Danie and Louise’s parents are coming for dinner.  We were up early making preparations for the big evening meal, again on the veranda, enjoying the arrival of a wide array of visitors and of course, each other’s company.

Giraffes in the bush shortly before sunset.


To those in the US, have a safe and sound Memorial Day weekend and for everyone elsewhere, you do the same.

______________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, May 26, 2017:

A year ago today, we arrived in Minnesota for a six-week family visit and rented this SUV.  As a former owner of this model, Tom was thrilled with this new Ford Explorer.  We couldn’t believe all the technology in this rental car, more than any we’ve seen throughout the world. As it turned out we rented this car for the full six weeks for only $50 more than a tiny economy car from this site:  www.rentalcars.com  For more photos including the hotel where we stayed, please click here.

Have I died and gone to heaven?…Hippo pool…Meet “Wart Face”…

We could watch for hours and rarely see more than a hippo taking a quick breath of air.  We were lucky to get this shot.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

We call him “Wart Face” who has the biggest warts of any warthog in Marloth Park and is known by many.  Most nights, he visits us after dark.  His mouth is like a vacuum hose sucking up pellets and only certain veggies.  No carrots for Wart Face!  Apples? Yes!

We apologize for the late posting.  We decided to go shopping in Komatipoort early in the day when it would be less crowded on a Friday.  The morning shopping worked well to our liking but, by the time we returned and put everything away, I’d yet to prepare the first word or photo. 

The long dirt path we walk to get to the river to the hippo pool.  We walk gingerly checking for snakes as we bat off the flies and other insects flying around our heads. 

What occurs in a mere 24 hours is often astounding to us.  Living in an environment such as this fairy-tale place is truly a breeding ground for one adventure after another.

Hippo viewing at this location changes from day to day. 

As I sit here on the veranda on yet another scorching hot day without a hint of the slightest breeze coupled with outrageous humidity, I often ask myself, “How am I able to do this? How is Tom so tolerant of doing this?  How do we do this with nary a complaint from either of us?”

Geese and other birds are always at the shoreline at the hippo pool.

Is the uniqueness of this special place enough to distract us from any potential discomforts to make us so accepting and tolerant?  I suppose in a way its an accumulation of things over these past years of world travel that has changed us so much. 

Stunning!  We spotted this sausage tree at the hippo pool area.  From this site: The sausage tree of sub-Saharan Africa is beautiful in flower. The blood-red to maroon flowers hang in long panicles. The fragrance of the flower is not pleasing to humans but attracts the Dwarf Epauletted Fruitbat (Micropteropus pusillus), its pollinator. As the flowers drop from the tree, animals come to feed on the nectar-rich blooms. Impala, duiker, baboons, bush pigs, and lovebirds all feed on the flowers of the Sausage tree. Grey fruits grow out of these flowers. These grey fruits resemble sausages and can grow for months to become over a foot long and weigh over 10 pounds.”

The other part is trade-offs…a little discomfort from time to time in order to reap the excitement, not unlike riding on a roller coaster…the fear and the uncomfortable feel in one’s belly is compensated for by the thrill.  Will this ride ever stop during this next year until we again fly away?

We don’t think so.  We see people like Louise and Danie who after living here for years took off before 6:00 am yesterday in search of the seven hyenas spotted by the rangers not far from here.  We did the same hours later.  It was an unlikely, needle-in-a-haystack kind of thing, neither of us having any success but the adventure of it all…breathtaking.

At a quick glance, one could mistake this for a crocodile.  In either case, “STAY AWAY!”  They are both dangerous animals.

Pinch me.  Wake me up.  Have I died and this is what my form of heaven looks like?  I’ve never known happiness like this before; interminable and uninterrupted pure bliss. 

As we approached the hippo pool these past two days in a row, we encounter a scene such as this.

If only we all could find comfort on this earth, in this life, that heaven truly is being with someone who loves you unconditionally, in a place you only imagined in your wildest dreams, totally nourished and surrounding by that which makes your heart sing, your pulse racing with excitement and your mind flooded with knowledge and experience.

It appeared there were two hippos at this specific spot but there were more only a short distance away.  The views were obstructed by foliage.

And so it is…forever how long it lasts, it lasts, and we’ll move on to the next leg of our journey, remembering and perpetually searching for an experience, however different may somehow match the depth and meaning of our time spent here.

The people?  They nourish our souls as an adjunct to that of the wildlife; comforting, enriching and meaningful.  How grateful we are when serendipitously another event stumbles our way like last night’s invitation from Louise and Danie to join them at Ngewenya Lodge, located on the Crocodile River for “sundowners” and Thursday night’s buffet dinner.

Regardless of the obstructed view, we were thrilled to see them and will return several times a week.

When the text arrived at 4:40, we promptly responded with an enthusiastic yes.  We’d be ready at 5:00 pm for their arrival to pick us up.  Both hot and sweaty after sitting outdoors upon returning from the hippo pool after more heat and scorching sun, we hurried, showered and dressed and were waiting outside when they arrived.

We had leftovers planned for dinner.  No problem.  We’ll have that dinner tonight.  Off we went on the short drive outside the park to the lovely Ngewenya Lodge, a massive complex of time-shares, condos and hotel rooms with one of the finest river views in South Africa and, like Marloth Park, an abundance of wandering wildlife. 

Last night’s sunset at Ngwenya Lodge, a beautiful resort about 10 minutes outside Marloth Park.  We enjoyed happy hour and an excellent Thursday night buffet dinner with Louise and Danie.

We hadn’t been there in over four years and it was fun to return.  The evening was exceptional, as always, the buffet food superb, and the drinks flowed with ease along with the conversation.

After only a few photos, darkness fell.  We dined outdoor with few mozzies, good service, enjoying the pay-for-what-it-weighs buffet concept.  This time it was our turn to buy after considerable effort in convincing our friends.  The total bill including drinks was a paltry ZAR 470, (US $39.63) for the four of us, drinks, dinner and tip!

Moments before darkness fell we observed these four waterbucks at the river.

Back at home, we hunkered down satisfied over another memorable evening with friends.  Tonight, we’ll stay in, dine on good leftovers and take a breather since both Saturday and Sunday nights are busy with other friends.  How did we get so lucky?

By the way, in this past 24 hours, we booked our trip to Victoria Falls, Zambia.  We’ll post he details tomorrow.  Please check back.

May your day bring you good luck and heavenly experiences!

_________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, April 6, 2017:

Tom, Forty Bean’s owner Rebecca and Bob in Fairlight, Australia.  For more photos, please click here