Vulture Day!…What?…Are vultures deserving a day of their own?…Most certainly!…

Classic scene of three vultures on a limb.  We were thrilled to get this shot from quite a distance.  From this site:  Vultures are, however, great ecologists, having a high sense of personal hygiene and are a manifestation of the adage of patience as a virtue. They clean the veld of carrion, thereby minimizing the impact of animal disease, and they bathe regularly in rivers after gorging themselves at a kill.”

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Whoa, Mr. Zebra!  Why are you climbing the steps to the veranda?

Each visit to Kruger National Park seems to result in the focus of one particular species or another.  It may be rhinos, elephants, giraffe, zebras, or wildebeest. 

Oddly, and much to our surprise the focus of yesterday’s foray in the park seemed to highlight vultures. After about 45 minutes on the tar road from the Crocodile Bridge entrance, we noticed a number of vehicles tightly pulled into an overlook area.  Of course, we had to stop to see what was going on.

This appeared to be the most common vulture we spotted, the white-backed vulture. From
 this site: “To watch the interaction of vultures at a kill is like witnessing the unbridled nature of food politics. The Shangaan proverb that translates as ‘where the vultures assemble, there is a kill’ refers to the fact that when people gather together there is always a purpose in mind. The White-backed Vulture is the most common vulture in Kruger. There are approximately 2 000 pairs in the Park, concentrated mostly in the dry, lightly wooded grasslands of the east and mopane veld of the north. They are the most gregarious of vultures, often roosting in large communes where they sleep with their heads tucked under their wings. They often soar at great heights during the day and depend on either the Bateleur or other vultures to lead them to a kill.”

One’s hope in these situations that lions might be the reason for the gathering of vehicles.  For us, who have yet to see lions while driving through Kruger but have experienced several sightings from Marloth Park overlooking the Crocodile River from this side of the fence, we hoped it was lions.

Most photo safari participants, whether self-driven or in a guide-driven and assisted safari vehicle, long to see lions above all other wildlife in the massive national park.

This vulture appeared to be a different species from the others shown.

Months ago, we let go of our burning desire to see lions in Kruger National Park since we’d seen them on the river and we didn’t want our focus on lions to distract us from other wildlife we’ve thoroughly enjoyed sighting on our almost weekly visits to the park.

As we entered the tight overlook area, where no less than a dozen vehicles were crammed, we searched and searched for a lion, a kill, or a dying animal that may have attracted the many vultures in trees and hovering over the area, to no avail.

There was little information online to help us identify these vultures.  Any comments would be appreciated! From this site: Vultures fight unashamedly over whatever scraps they can get, and when they descend on the proverbial trough, their grim determination is evident – these birds can consume a kilogram of meat in a minute and strip a carcass within hours.”

Tom used his trusty Swarovski binoculars while I searched with the viewfinder of the camera scanning every inch of terrain which wasn’t obstructed by trees and bush.  No luck. We didn’t see a thing other than the variety of vultures we’ve presented here today, most of which were sitting in trees rather than eating something on the ground.

Although months ago we purchased the Kruger Park Map & Guide with photos of most birds found in the park included birds of prey, we weren’t able to identify by name any of the specific vultures shown above other than the white-backed vulture.  

This vulture appears to be out of a scary movie or nightmare. From friend Ken (thanks, Ken!): This is the Hooded Vulture. They usually turn up on the feast after the Lappet-faced or white backed has torn into the carcass and had their fill. Details: 65 to 75cms high considered small in Vulture terms. The wingspan of 1.7 -1.8m. From this site: Physically, all vultures appear built for scavenging. They have strong, hooked beaks that can tear a carcass open, but unlike other birds of prey, their feet are not suited to catching live animals. The main exception appears to be the Hooded Vulture – as the smallest and most prone to being bullied off a carcass, it has diversified its diet to include termites and small animals such as lizards.”

If any of our worldwide readers are vulture enthusiasts, please send me an email from the link on the right side of our homepage under the “translate” button and let me know each species numbered them top to bottom beginning with photo #1.  This would be greatly appreciated.

There’s no doubt, we often search for birds in our garden, throughout Marloth Park on our almost daily drives and when visiting Kruger.  However, we must admit, the bulk of acquired knowledge revolves around other types of wildlife.



Here in Africa, we love the sounds of a variety of birds pecking in our bird feeder, the constant “trilling” sound of the helmeted guinea fowls, the squawking of hornbills, and of course, any sightings of the most peculiar and fascinating ostriches. 


Obviously, there had been a kill in the area where sighting these various vultures.

While living in Kauai, Hawaii in 2015 for four months, we were literally obsessed with the nesting Laysan Albatross as shown in dozens of posts such as this one here.  Also, during the extended stay on the island, we fell in love with a singing-for-nuts, red cardinal we aptly named “Birdie” which can be found here.


Lately, our favorite birds have been francolins, Frank and the Mrs. who now respond when we call for them.  In the meantime, the not-so-dumb guinea fowls come running when they hear me call for Frank, knowing birdseed is on the horizon.


Then, of course, there were hundreds of thousands of birds we saw while in Antarctica, a mere six months ago.  See this link for some of those stunning birds, including albatross and a wide array of penguin species.

We got as close as possible but were unable to see what had piqued the interest of all of these vultures. From this site: “Almost all the vultures in Africa are represented in Kruger, the main exception being the Lammergeyer, which is restricted to the Kwazulu-Natal Drakensberg, and the Palm-nut Vulture, which is found on the eastern seaboard (rarely seen in Kruger). The Park has thus become a vulture sanctuary, mainly because of the predator activity on the ground, and secondly because of poisoning in non-protected areas of southern Africa.” 

We’re often dependent upon our friends Lynne and Mick from Marloth Park (now in the UK) and also friend Louise in Kauai, Hawaii to assist us in identifying birds but we don’t like to take up too much of their time.  If you can help, please do.

One thing for sure, wherever we may travel in the world, there are birds and we’ll always enjoy sightings with opportunities to take photos when possible to share with all of our readers/friends.

Thank you for being on this journey with us!  May your day provide you with opportunities to enjoy our flying, walking, and running aviary friends.

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

One year ago while in Las Vegas I dinged the rental car.  How I got it fixed was quite unusual. Click here for the details.

Venomous snakes and snake bites in Australia…First aid for snake bites information…A personal venomous snake encounter 17 months ago…

The most venomous Australian snake: the Inland Taipan or Fierce Snake
(Not our photo).  The Inland Taipan or Fierce Snake, reported as the most venomous snake in Australia.

Yesterday’s Sydney Herald newspaper posted this story we’d also seen on the news throughout the day about a Fremantle woman who was apparently bitten by a snake while on a walk on the beachfront esplanade, a paved boardwalk generally free of high grass and brush.

After being bit she walked home to her husband showing him the bite, an ambulance was called.  She later died at the hospital. (The hospital is yet to confirm that her death is a result of a snake bite until after an autopsy is performed).  She had a penetration mark on her foot.  Had she not walked home instead immediately calling for an ambulance, she may be alive today.  We extend our deepest condolences to her family.

Then again, we don’t know all the facts and can only surmise based on what’s being reported in the news.  Apparently, from what we’ve read online snakes are often seen in the Perth metro area especially as the weather warms. 


The second most venomous Australian snake: the Eastern Brown Snake
(Not our photo).  Eastern Brown Snake, purported second most venomous snake in Australia.

Paying attention by diligently watching for snakes in high risk areas has been on our radar these past several years especially after spending so much time in Africa where 3,529 people die each year (or many more unreported) from snakebites as opposed to considerably less fatalities in Australia:

Australian Snake Bites
 

“In Australia there are about 3,000 snake bites per year, of which 200 to 500 receive anti-venom; on average one or two will prove fatal. About half the deaths are due to bites from the brown snake; the rest mostly from tiger snake, taipan and death adder. Some deaths are sudden, however in fact it is uncommon to die within four hours of a snake bite.”
 


From the World Health Organization (WHO):

Envenoming resulting from snake bites is a particularly important public health problem in rural areas of tropical and subtropical countries situated in Africa, Asia, Oceania and Latin America. A recent study estimates that at least 421,000 envenomings and 20,000 deaths occur worldwide from snakebite each year, but warns that these figures may be as high as 1,841,000 envenomings and 94,000 deaths. The highest burden of snakebites is in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa.

Snake bite is primarily a problem of the poorer rural populations in these regions and affects mainly those involved in subsistence farming activities. Poor access to health services in these settings and, in some instances, a scarcity of antivenom, often leads to poor outcomes and considerable morbidity and mortality. Many victims fail to reach hospital in time or seek medical care after a considerable delay because they first seek treatment from traditional healers. Some even die before reaching hospital. Hospital statistics on snakebites therefore underestimate the true burden.”

With our second highest worldwide readership at this time from Australia, (the first highest from the US), we decided it was important to post this snake bite information from Dr. Struan K. Sutherland, gleaned from published university papers.  This comprehensive report appears to be the most highly informational and detailed we’ve found in Australia.

If only one Australian or citizen of other countries learns how to respond from a snake bite from reading this post, our post was well worth the time and effort.  For our readers in areas with low risk of snake bites, we’ll be back tomorrow with a more generalized post.

Included in this report is first aid for snake bites as follows and also includes more photos of venomous snakes in Australia:

First Aid for Snake Bites:
 
“Do NOT wash the area of the bite or try to suck out the venom!

It is extremely important to retain traces of venom for use with venom identification kits.

Do NOT incise or cut the bite, or apply a high torniquet!

Cutting or incising the bite won’t help. High torniquets are ineffective and can be fatal if released.

Stop lymphatic spread – bandage firmly, splint and immobilise!

The “pressure-immobilisation” technique is currently recommended by the Australian Resuscitation Council, the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists.

The lymphatic system is responsible for systemic spread of most venoms. This can be reduced by the application of a firm bandage (as firm as you would put on a sprained ankle) over a folded pad placed over the bitten area. While firm, it should not be so tight that it stops blood flow to the limb or to congests the veins.

Start bandaging directly over the bitten area, ensuing that the pressure over the bite is firm and even. If you have enough bandage you can extend towards more central parts of the body, to delay spread of any venom that has already started to move centrally. A pressure dressing should be applied even if the bite is on the victims trunk or torso.

Immobility is best attained by application of a splint or sling, using a bandage or whatever to hand to absolutely minimise all limb movement, reassurance and immobilisation (eg, putting the patient on a stretcher). Where possible, bring transportation to the patient (rather then vice versa). Don’t allow the victim to walk or move a limb. Walking should be prevented.

The pressure-immobilisation approach is simple, safe and will not cause iatrogenic tissue damage (ie, from incision, injection, freezing or arterial torniquets – all of which are ineffective).

See the AVRU site for more details of bandaging techniques.
This poster from thefirstaidshop.com.au is worth keeping.
Bites to the head, neck, and back are a special problem – firm pressure should be applied locally if possible.

Removal of the bandage will be associated with rapid systemic spread. Hence ALWAYS wait until the patient is in a fully-equipped medical treatment area before bandage removal is attempted.

Do NOT cut or excise the area or apply an arterial torniquet! Both these measures are ineffective and may make the situation worse.
Joris Wijnker’s Snakebite Productions has more information on envenomation and he can supply a suitable first aid kit and booklet.”

Had the above mentioned woman seen this information at some point, she may be alive today. Walking home increased her heart rate and could easily have contributed to having the venom flow through her bloodstream more quickly.  The patient should be immobilized until emergency professionals arrive on the scene. 

The number to call in Australia for emergency assistance is triple zero…000
A Tiger Snake
(Not our photo).  The Tiger Snake.

While we lived in Africa for nine months, much of which was spent in areas with some of the world most venomous snakes are found, we made every attempt to educate ourselves immediately upon arrival. 

An important aspect to snake safety is STAY AWAY.  Many snakes will not provoke an attack and often bite when aggravated or stepped on.  Many reported fatalities are attributed to foolishly trying to kill or handle a snake.

The number to call in Australia if you find a snake in your yard or home is Wildcare Helpline: (08) 9474 9055

One may think we’ve had little exposure to venomous snakes.  However, we actually had a personal encounter with the extremely dangerous Mozambique Spitting Cobra in South Africa that fell from the ceiling on our veranda landing next to Tom’s bare feet while we were sitting near each other busily distracted while working on our laptops.

For our personal story and photos of a Mozambique Spitting Cobra experience on our veranda, please click here.

Over these past few days, we’ve focused on recent news stories we’ve gleaned from TV news, all relevant in our travels in one way or another.  Soon, in less than three weeks, we’ll be living in Fiji without a TV and be reliant upon online news. We both have auto flash messaging that pop up on our laptops from various news sources worldwide, enabling us to stay well informed.

When traveling the world, we’ve found it vital to stay informed as to world affairs, including political unrest, wars, natural disasters, health related events, weather related issues and financial chaos as in what recently occurred in Greece, all of which may have a huge impact on our travel to a specific location.

We continue to exercise caution and practicality interspersed with a ongoing passion for a certain degree of excitement and adventure commensurate with our interests, abilities and desires as we continue to explore the world.

Stay tuned for more…

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Photo from one year ago today, August 19, 2014:

The busy streets in South Kensington made us thrilled that we could travel almost everywhere we wanted to go on foot.  For more details, please click here.

Laugh fest last night…Safety on other islands is different than in Kauai…

 

This Bird of Paradise is the best example we’ve seen of a bloom appearing to be a bird’s head.

Last night’s dinner party at Alice and Travis’ house with Louise and Steve was more fun than we ever could have imagined. The stories, the laughter, and the bantering back and forth was indescribable. All I know is that by the end of the evening our faces and bellies hurt from laughing so hard and so long.

I drove home. Tom, who rarely drinks alcohol had his fair share last night, and although I don’t drink for health reasons I too felt intoxicated from the great evening.

Thanks to reader Annie, this is Ixora.

How did we get so lucky to meet so many fabulous people? And how hard is it going to be to leave exactly three weeks from today? 

It’s funny how we never have trouble leaving a place. Instead, we find it difficult to leave living beings behind, both human and animal. 

This morning Birdie saw me wander into the kitchen while he sat atop his favorite tree. Immediately, he flew to the lanai railing and began singing his song as shown in this video (in case you missed it). For a more professional Northern Cardinal video presented by Cornell Labs, please click here.

Nature has a way of creating flawless symmetry as in this variety of Plumeria.

We’ll miss him and his significant other both of whom we’ve interacted several times each day. He’s our first sign of life each morning and last, just before dark as we dine at the table beside the sliding screen door. While we’re dining, he sings. How can we not miss this magical display of life, however tiny he and she maybe?

And the people? Ah, how can we not miss them? 

We’ve found that somehow we are able to build strong relationships with people we meet in our travels in relatively short periods of time. In our old lives, it seemed that building new friendships transpired over a period of years, not months.

The buds on flowers such as this Plumeria (often used for making leis) become beautiful in themselves.

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that many of those we meet are on the move like us in one way or another. Most of the friends we’ve made here in Kauai came from other locals for example Louise and Steve are originally from the UK.

Alice and Travis are from the state of Washington, having moved here permanently five years ago. This is the case with most people we meet. They, like us, came from somewhere else, longing for the lifestyle only Hawaii or similar island living has to offer.

Volcanic rock is also seen along the shore in some areas of Kauai.

As for future islands on our upcoming itinerary which includes both Fiji and Bali, we have few expectations that life on those islands will be comparable to living in Hawaii.

Some have mentioned that both Fiji and Bali can be rough in areas with political unrest, poverty, and strife. We never promised ourselves nor expected that everywhere we live will be easy or feel as luxurious as living in Princeville has been these past months.

As the tide rolls in the waves pound against the lava rocks.

We easily recall where we’ve lived in the past, in the heat and humidity with insects everywhere, crawling about our feet and buzzing about our heads. Last night, we mentioned that we’d lived outdoors in Kenya on the open (no screens) veranda for three months when there was no indoor living room, lounge, or salon.  here were two bedrooms, one bath, a small galley kitchen with a small hallway connecting them.

Each day the temperature was in the high 80’s to low 100’s with humidity so awful that the zippers on our luggage turned green. Tom used WD40 (Kenya’s version) to release the zippers each week to ensure they’d work when we left. 

From what I can determine online, this is a coot.  If any of our readers have any suggestions on this breed, please post a comment or send an email.

The flies and mosquitoes were rampant and every day I had to lather up with a DEET (below 30%), the only product that would keep me from being bit.  

The insects and the heat were equally bad in South Africa but, by the time we got to Marloth Park, we were accustomed to being outdoors all day. There, we had two living rooms inside the house and yet we stayed outdoors on the veranda (again no screens) all day amid the heat and insects, batting off the flies, keeping an eye out for snakes and poisonous things.

This is a hala plant. Please see this link for details.

After those total of six-month experiences during which neither of us whined or complained, we’re thinking that Fiji and Bali won’t be any more difficult and most likely will be somewhat easier. 

As for the political climate in both of these countries, the properties are located far from the busy cities where most of the danger lurks. Plus, in Fiji, we’ll be living in a resort with managers and security on the premises. In Bali, we’ll have a house staff on the premises. Both scenarios put our minds at ease.

There are many bath and candle shops throughout the islands comparable to this shop in Kilauea. With the scent of flowers blooming year-round, it’s not surprising that many small businesses are centered around scented soaps and candles.

Worry?  No, we’re not worried. We’ve come to accept that there is no place in the world that is entirely safe from crime, natural disasters, and political unrest. We’d only need to watch the US news in the past week, months, or years to realize that nowhere is entirely safe.

We can’t live this life in fear of what could happen. We choose to live this life in love with each other, in love with what we see in front of us; the people, the wildlife, and the beauty. 

The former movie theatre in Kilauea is now a church offering free lunches every Sunday after the service.

That, dear readers, drives us on with the hope and the passion for an extraordinary and safe experience anywhere in the world we find ourselves.

Tonight is our final Full Moon Party to be held at the Makai Golf Course pool house.  Today, I’ll make our pu pu to bring, Hawaiian flavored chicken wings (a few without the sauce for me), and off we’ll go to yet another fun evening on the island. We love island living. Stay tuned. Much more to come.

                                               Photo from one year ago today, May 2, 2014:

In the Medina, aka the Big Square in Marrakech, vendors would often neatly place their products on the ground on a blanket expecting passersby to negotiate. Within a short period, this display would turn into a messy pile as the vendors were busy selling the item. At this time, one year ago, we were less than two weeks from leaving Morocco, chomping at the bit to be back on the move. For details, please click here.

 

 

There’s nothing like a good laugh, a good meal and another night in the bush…Photos and a video today…

 

A first glance, these could be a fashion-forward pair of women’s black boots. Nope. They’re the hind legs of a Warthog. Actually, all four legs have these spiky heels. This made us laugh.
 We took this video a few minutes ago. Every time that we run water into the pool, due to a slow leak, the nocturnal bushbabies make lots of noise, making us laugh.
We laugh easily. Tom, over corny jokes and puns, befitting a situation and me, over the irony of daily life. Put us together and one will incite the other into a good chuckle many times a day. 
Warthogs are always on the lookout for a morsel.  Notice how they get on their front knees when discovering a morsel. We howled over this when on safari in the Masai Mara and now, again here.

 

Baby butts up on the air, on their knees, eating the vegetation around this tree.

Living in the bush, in a constant state of awe of our surroundings, we find humor in the most mundane of events or in the interesting activities of the wildlife surrounding us. 

Butting heads while the third baby stands by, awaiting a turn.

 

Moments later, he got his turn to butt heads while the former participant wandered away.
The determination of a dung beetle is laugh-worthy as its female counterpart stays atop the ball of dung, running feverishly as he anxiously moves it along using his back legs to push and his front legs to gain a foothold on the ground. Or, the face of a zebra that stands at our railing with what appears to be a smile on his face, inciting a comment and chuckle out of us.
When we first arrived, we noticed a baby warthog lying still on the driveway. Several of the others stopped by, sniffing it and walking away. The mother sniffed it and walked away. We panicked thinking the baby was dead. Suddenly, it jumped up, engaging in play with the others. Now, we observe this as a common occurrence, perhaps a behavior of dominance.

 

These two kissed and sniffed each other while lying down.

The vegetation stuffed cheeks of the giraffe when he takes a break from his treetop munching to check us out, making eye contact, not only warms our hearts but makes us laugh. Mother Nature has a sense of humor.  Surely us humans, are funny with our rituals, habits and, actions. 

This baby did the same as the others as if playing dead.

 

This mother stopped to look at me.  The way warthogs make eye contact and listen to my voice, makes me laugh every day.

We’re not laughing at them and, I won’t use the standard phrase that they are “laughing with us.” They aren’t.  But, why we’re laughing is due to the fact that they are like us in so many ways: stomping their feet when they want attention, snorting when dissatisfied or annoyed, reacting sexually when visually stimulated, constantly thinking about food, needing warmth, comfort, and love and for many, the desire for companionship with their family and friends.

The standing baby was trying to nurse the lying baby.

God, a Higher Power, or Mother Nature, whatever your beliefs, made us alike in many ways so that we cohabit in this world together. And, at times, that likeness, combined with our differences, can incite a bout of laughter, a smile on our faces, or merely a twinkle in our eye leaving us feeling a sense of happiness and fulfillment. 

Without cause, they’d finally had enough of us and began to take off onto one of the many animal worn paths at varying points in the yard.

How fortunate we are to embrace this? Whether we laugh from the antics of our dogs or cats which is one of the main motivators in including pets in our lives or, the playful shenanigans of an animal in the wild, it is the same warm, fuzzy feeling that brings us laughter, pleasure and a sense of belonging, if only for a moment, in their world.

Goodbye, warthog family of nine with a few yet to catch up. We’ll see you again soon. 

Today, we share with our readers, some laugh provoking moments with one of my favorites, the maligned warthog, whom by now many of our readers may say, “Enough already, with the Warthogs.” Humor me. They, by far, have made us laugh more than any creature in the bush, especially when these events shown in the included photos occurred a few days ago.

Some say that their ugliness is off-putting. Certainly, they are no more ugly than Elwood, the Chinese Crested Chihuahua, who warmed the hearts of millions as the World’s Ugliest Dog in 2007. We enjoyed Elwood because he was ugly. Thus, we enjoy warthogs for a similar reason. Add their playfulness, their intensity, their determination, their curiosity and they easily become a favorite.

We ended the delightful day with this meal. My plate is on the right with the Brussels Sprouts which, of course, Tom would never eat. At least he’ll eat the green beans and coleslaw.

After their lengthy visit, freely allowing us to take photos of their most intimate family fun, the heat of 100F, 38C weather drove us indoors to the AC, another delicious homemade meal, a movie, a good night’s sleep.This morning we awoke to a live bat in the kitchen sink.

Life in the bush is hot and humid, filled with unbelievable insects and critters (we’re adapting). But we find it to be exciting and often humorous. 

Do you know what is really funny? That two senior citizens, former homebodies, conservative and cautious, are sitting here in the bush to tell about it!  

First time visitors….We were surrounded…Tom carries a big stick…Caution is advised and exercised…

 

While this “infant” baboon was perched in a tree checking us out, her/his parents were busy making themselves at home in our yard.

A few days ago while on a walk in the neighborhood, a baboon crossed our path, holding up its “arm” as if injured and with a huge bloody looking injury to his torso. Concerned that he could be dangerous in this injured state, we contact Louise. She, in turn, contacted the Marloth Park game warden with the hopes that they could locate this baboon to handle the situation as necessary.

We saw him in the single-file line as they made their way toward us. Obviously, he is the dominant male again as shown below.
He sat on watch duty the entire time they were here staying in this general area. If a 6 foot tall, 1.83 meters, human sat next to him, they’d have been of equal height. As with humans, baboon males also have nipples.

We’ve yet to hear if the baboon was located.  On Friday night while dining at Jabula Lodge, owner Leon (he and his wife Dawn are our new friends) explained how we must protect ourselves from dangerous animals in the wild. 
Leon explained it was imperative to do the following:
1.  Don’t run.  Back up slowly to safety.
2.  Try not to show fear.
3.  Wave and hold your arms over your head to appear larger.
4.  Do not leave any animal “cornered.”  Back away slowly to provide an easily accessible path for the animal to take.
5.  If possible, keep a large stick or branch handy at all times, especially when walking, if an injured animal is in the area.
6.  Never, in vulnerable situations, (walking in the bush, during bush drives, lounging or working outdoors) allow ourself to become complacent, failing to stay on alert.

They wandered about the yard looking for a shady spot to relax.
Some nibbled at vegetation in the yard determining if our greens were more appealing than other locations.

Yesterday, Tom removed the thick wooden handle from the pool net and now we’re equipped. From that point on, he’s kept that handle within easy reach at all times when we’re outdoors.

Scratch that itch!
Baboons can mate throughout the year. The notoriously red butts are an indication of mating readiness in the female and an attractive point for the male.  Although it looks inflamed and painful, it has few nerve endings and is not a sign of infection or discomfort.

The first indication of the arrival of the baboons was a loud sound on the roof above our heads. Very loud. Tom grabbed the big stick (thanks Leon!) as a giant male baboon stood 15 feet, 4.6 meters from us on the carport roof as he swung down from the roof. Without a doubt, he was here to check us out and to see if we had any possible food sources. 

Infant looking at mom for guidance.
Although this photo could be construed as kissing, in reality, the smaller one is grooming the face of the larger female.

He was huge and intimidating. Tom stood up, holding the 8 foot, 2.4-meter stick, waving it in the air and yelling.  I grabbed for the camera knowing Tom would cover my back. But, the adventure had just begun.

This other male watched the activities while sitting at the edge of the swimming pool.

The huge baboon, startled by our display of dominance, took off running toward the back of the house, the opposite side of the veranda to join the remainder of the large troop of baboons surrounding us. There were dozens of them, following along a worn-by-the-animals path that makes its way around most of the grounds.

Our resident zebra hung around while the baboons visited.
Grooming and babysitting continue.

Through the trees and bush, we could see the single procession of one baboon after another of varying sizes, walk along the path, making their way into the yard. The dominating males were clearly evident.

Picking on a hangnail, perhaps?

No less than a dozen made their way into plain view of us, parking themselves in comfortable spots with a clear view of us and then, much to our surprise, proceeded to entertain us with their usual antics and interaction with one another.

This photo further illustrates the enormous size of the dominant male.  This female to his left appeared to be a similar size of the other full-grown adults.

Although Tom kept the stick in his hand, there was no further need to wave it or show dominance. No more than a minute or two after they got themselves situated, a single zebra appeared, parking himself near the veranda.  In a funny way, we almost felt as is he was here to protect us although neither the baboons nor the zebra appeared threatened by one another.

Infant in the tree while mom sat below playing with her fingers.

During this entire period, I was taking these photos while Tom maintained a careful watch. We took no chances by walking off the veranda onto the driveway. The heavy railing does offer us some protection which we haven’t ignored. Although some of the wildlife appear relatively comfortable with humans in the general area, they are none the less, wild animals. 

A few stragglers had stayed behind for a few minutes as the others made the scattered mad dash to keep up with the dominant male. Our male zebra left minutes after the last baboon. It was the first time, he’d visited on his own.

Tourists and locals have been injured or killed by animals in the wild, most often as a result of carelessness and ignorance. Also, on occasion, members of The Big Five have been known to enter Marloth Park resulting in rangers and residents immediately alerting one another.

One must exercise caution from the many breeds of animals that naturally live in Marloth Park. A few days ago, two enormous roaring wildebeest ran through our yard, much too quickly for us to take a photo. They can weigh as much as 600 pounds, 272 kg, certainly large enough to kill or maim an unsuspecting human in their path.  The same goes for the giant kudus, weighing as much as 750 pounds, 340 kg, again large enough to cause serious damage. 

In general, most of the wild animals in this area aren’t known to attack unless provoked. On rare occasions, baboons have been known to attack for no reason at all. It’s best to consider all wildlife as potentially dangerous and to enjoy them from a reasonable distance, respecting their size, their strength, and the fact that we are intruding in their territory.

Today, the watch continues to see what wonders, if any, will come our way in the heat. With temperatures expected now at 100F, 38C, we wonder who may actually stop by. We’ve been outdoors for almost four hours now, as we write today’s post, sweat pouring off of us. But, we hesitate to venture inside to turn on the instant-on AC for fear we may miss something. That’s life in Marloth Park!

As we’ve learned in our travels, “the bigger the motivator, the more discomfort we’re willing to accept.” Need I say, we’re highly motivated?

 

From there, it all went to hell in a handbasket!

 

Seated over the wing, some of our views were obstructed.  But the Heavens offered up this cloudy view.

We finally made it to Marloth Park. At the moment we’re situated on a comfy sofa, inside the house. The overhead fan is sufficient to keep us comfortable, although we’ll turn on the AC in the bedroom before going to bed tonight, the sooner, the better, that is, the going to bed part, I mean. To say we’re pooped is an understatement.

From the enthusiasm we expressed in yesterday’s post, everything went downhill from there.When Tom and I had lunch in the airport café in Nairobi we were giddy with excitement at how smoothly everything had gone thus far.

How foolish we were! I remember thinking to myself, “Slow down, girl! This could change on a dime!” (Excuse the cliques spinning through my head).

Our flight to Johannesburg was scheduled to depart at a 4:00 pm. A few hours earlier we were told the flight was late due to “equipment issues.” Oh, that’s comforting.

As you read yesterday, the takeoff time continued to change, hour after hour. Until finally, we were told we’d be taking off at 8:35 pm, a four and a half hour wait beyond the already over four hours layover from our arrival in Nairobi from Mombasa for a total of eight and a half hours of waiting time.

The chairs in the waiting areas were uncomfortable rigid plastic. Our “old age flat butts” caused us to squirm constantly as the bony parts made contact with the unforgiving plastic. Getting up and walking around every 15 minutes seemed to be the available relief.

Thank goodness, we’d parked ourselves next to the complimentary digital charging station, allowing us to keep our computers and phones charged. There was no possible place to play Gin.

A gate/waiting area was set up with complimentary beverages and cakes, as we waited with other frustrated passengers, many of whom had missed their connecting flights. We were grateful that we’d booked a hotel room for the night, a short drive from the airport with a short upcoming flight scheduled at 11:10 am today.

At 9:00 pm, we were buckled into our seats on the plane with profuse apologies from the captain over the lengthy delays offering no further explanation for the delays. Quickly, the engines were started as the plane began to maneuver onto the tarmac in order to head to the runway.

All of a sudden, all the lights went down, the engine died and all electrical ceased to work. Oh. This made my heart pound as I grabbed Tom’s hand, saying, “Gee, good thing this didn’t happen five minutes after takeoff!”

Taking photos from an airplane creates a hazy view through the thick, often dirty, and damaged windows.

At that point, we assumed (foolish us) that we’d be getting off this malfunctioning plane while having to wait many more hours for a replacement.  Actually, I was hoping this would be the case, “My head was screaming, get us out of here!” My mouth stayed shut, waiting to see what transpired, albeit with nerves affray.

The pilot announced that there was an electrical problem (duh) and that he was going to have the ground crew pull the plane back onto the tarmac to work on it.  “No,” I thought, “just get us off this plane.” As a recovering “fear of flying” traveler, all my old fears kicked in. But, with Tom’s continued assurances, I managed to hold it together. 

After the ground crew worked on the plane for 20 minutes, with no explanation, the flight attendants began the manual emergency instructions since the drop-down video screens wouldn’t drop down in order to display the usually recorded safety video. That was comforting, huh?

We waited and then, waited some more. Finally, the engine fired up, the lights came back on and the plane was prepared for takeoff.  It was evident by the hushed tones in the cabin that most of the passengers were anxious. Once in the air, I sat back, exhausted, unable to focus on reading one of my Kindle books. It was after 10:00 pm.

Dinner was served with nothing I could have except for a small dish of tomato, onions, and cucumber chunks swimming in an oily base and a wrapped slice of processed cheese. Tom shared his chunks and slices with me while I shifted everything else on my tray to him.

The clouds were ominous on our flight from Mombasa to Nairobi Kenya.  Surprisingly, there was little turbulence on that otherwise easy flight.

There was a two or three years old child in the seat directly behind me who either kicked the back of my seat in rapid succession or burst into a round of hysterical crying. Certainly, this wasn’t a pleasant experience for such a youngster nor did it make it possible for either of us to nap.

Four hours later, we reached Johannesburg. However, we continued to wait for no less than 20 minutes after landing before they finally opened the doors to allow us to deplane.  

Tom and I, as usual, were the last passengers to leave. Our carry on baggage is too bulky to freely move through the aisles with passengers shoving and pushing with their own carry on bags in tow. We’ve found it less stressful to simply wait until all of the other passengers have cleared the aisles.

If a passenger had no purchases to declare they were allowed to bypass customs without even an inspection. At immigration, we merely asked for a 90-day visa and it was stamped on both of our passports as requested. His next task was to find an ATM so we could find a taxi and get to our hotel.

As we wheeled the two complimentary large luggage carts loaded with our stuff to the ATM machine, we were approached by two well-outfitted security guards who proceeded to explain the late-night dangers at the airport. They stated that their attendance was required for us to use the ATM and to accompany us to the curb to find a taxi. 

For a moment we were suspicious of them, but, when they stood back on the lookout as we received our cash in South African Rands (hereinafter referred to as “ZAR”), we felt more at ease.

The guards did in fact find us a taxi. Giving each of them a tip we proceeded on our way to the Protea Airport Hotel, a 10-minute ride. We paid the driver the required ZAR $150, US $14.70 plus a tip for ZAR $50, US $4.90, a much deserved small token of appreciation for his help with loading and unloading our bags onto the hotel’s large rolling cart.

This photo, although slightly lopsided, illustrates how far the work has come on the rebuilding of the Nairobi Airport after a recent fire.

Having prepaid the room checking into the hotel was quick. We were more than anxious to get to bed.  By the time we were situated and under the covers in a comfy cool air-conditioned room, it was 3:30 am to us, actually, 2:30 am Johannesburg time due to a one hour time change during the flight. It took us an hour to fall asleep.

From the time we left Diani Beach, Kenya at 8:00 am on Saturday with Alfred to head to Mombasa (1.5 hour taxi ride) until we arrived at the hotel it was 19.5 hours. Total flying time for both flights: 4 hours 50 minutes.

By 8:30 am Sunday morning we were having the buffet in the hotel’s restaurant. Good food. Great coffee. And, hoping that the upcoming third of the three flights would be smooth.

All moved along with ease until we reached the security check-in at Johannesburg after we’d checked our four bags, (without any excess baggage fees). As we loaded the laptop bags, my handbag, the duffel bag, and the pill bag into the scanner, two things transpired. 

One, I got frisked. Two, they made us completely empty my laptop bag that contains all of our required paperwork, second passports, power cords, ancillary digital equipment, portable scanner, and portable printer.  They were looking for something “round” that continued to appear on their screen, even after the contents were removed. 

No less than six times, they removed items from the bag running it through the scanner over and over. They’d remove an item, scan the bag again, put the item back, remove another item, and on and on. We thought we were going to miss our flight.

Too exhausted to argue with them that there wasn’t a dangerous or prohibited item hidden in the bag, I finally pointed to a round insignia on the outside of the bag with the brand name engraved. Apparently, the insignia was the problem, they explained, trying to convince us they were “just doing their job,” leaving us to repack the computer bag to be on our way. 

The South African Air Links fight was leaving for Nelspruit/Mpumalanga/Kruger Park Airport in 20 minutes. We had to hustle to get to the gate on time to take a bus to the tarmac, climb a skinny steep stairway to the plane and take our seats for the final 40-minute flight.

Ah, the flight was a flawless smooth takeoff with a relatively gentle landing and overall incident-free.  If our bags had arrived with us, our driver was awaiting us and we could be on our way for the 161 km, 100-mile drive to Marloth Park, we’d be grateful. 

Yes, we certainly are grateful to finally have arrived. As we write this now at 8:00 pm Sunday we’re still stuffed from breakfast deciding to skip dinner tonight. Instead, we’re lounging, writing for our readers, anticipating a much needed cool night’s sleep and tomorrow morning’s coffee on the veranda

And yes, we’ve already had visitors! And yes, the AC works and the house are much more than our expectations. Stop back tomorrow for photos and the happy stories since our arrival at one of Mother Nature’s magical wonderlands, Marloth Park, South Africa, our new home.

For now…