Power outage for 14 hours…Long night without aircon….Amazing responses from readers…

Spikey Kudu has only recently begun to sprout his lifetime horns. Look at his tongue sticking out a little. Cute.

Last night when we were sitting indoors watching the final emotional episode of the excellent prequel to Yellowstone, 1883, the power went out. With numerous short-term outages lately, we expected it to be restored shortly. No such luck! It never came back on until this morning, 14 hours later.

We did the usual, putting the metal bowl of ice in the refrigerator, which Tom refreshed with more ice this morning. Last night’s meaty casserole was still cold, but since we will be going to Rita and Gerhard’s for dinner tonight, we tossed it out to the few dozen mongooses waiting in the garden for paloney. They loved it! Their digestive systems are sturdier than ours. After all, they can eat venomous snakes!

I keep thinking about Little stopping by several times after leaving and not finding us here.

Luckily, we still had hot water but could not make coffee when we got up. The side burner on the braai wasn’t working for some reason. I made myself an iced coffee using decaf crystals and added ice leftover in the freezer. That worked ok for me. Finally, when the power was restored, Tom could have his coffee.

After carefully checking the food in the fridge, I determined it all survived, but I threw out a few questionable items. Since last Wednesday, we hadn’t shopped, so the refrigerator wasn’t overly stocked. Everything in the freezer was still frozen solid, including fish and prawns. No worries there.

As far as homely warthogs go, Little is a fine-looking specimen, although he has small tusks.

Luckily, with our laptop’s long-lasting batteries, we were able to watch shows until finally we shut it down, played with our phones for a while, and drifted off to sleep. Of course, we awoke several times during the night, never even using the top sheet. It was too warm. Thank goodness, yesterday wasn’t the hottest day in the past week.

Today, I’ll continue walking and make a salad to bring to R & G’s tonight. They have friends visiting from the US, whom they picked up yesterday at the Nelspruit Airport. They are all going on a road trip in about ten days and won’t return to Marloth Park until next September.

Last night, Mom and babies stopped by, accompanied by Barbara and Lori (not shown in the photo), her daughters from her previous litter.

Maybe another surprise will be on the horizon!! We probably won’t see Rita and Gerhard when we return in December since they spend Christmas in the US at their home in Washington. But, they surprised us by showing up on New Year’s Eve at the party at Flo and JiJi’s. That would be fantastic.

Tonight there will be eight of us, with Louise and Danie joining in on the dinner party. Gosh, it’s fun to go to a dinner party on a weeknight. We never did that in our old lives when we had to get up and go to work the following day. It’s one of the many joys of retirement.

In yesterday’s post here, I apologized for our mundane posts and lack of exciting photos since the pandemic hit the world over the past two years. As for many of you, traveling became cumbersome and complex with all the Covid restrictions, closed borders, and regulations.

Mongooses sleep close to one another, even when it’s hot. After this morning’s breakfast, they stay around for a few hours, lounging in the side garden.

In response to that post, the email messages came in by the dozens, if not more. All of them were kind and thoughtful, expressing their support of what we do each day to bring you our latest news. There wasn’t one “hater” or negative comment. We thank every one of you for taking the time to write and for your thoughtful and generous words.

One of these email messages particularly stuck in my mind overnight from a longtime reader/friend, Liz. It’s a bit self-boasting to post this, so in advance, let me say that it is not our intention to “fluff our feathers.”  Here’s what Liz wrote:

“Dear Jess,

It should be us who thank you and Tom to allow us ‘homebodies’ to travel vicariously through your experiences. The time and effort it takes to photograph, create the post idea, write and edit is not lost on me. The fact that, unless in exceptional circumstances, you have provided a daily post for many years now is amazing.

On the one hand I too am ‘champing at the bit’ to get back out there to see more of my beautiful country, but on the other hand circumstances, health, and finances.

In the mean time I am able to watch the world through your eyes informing and learning not only about the far flung places but my attitude, likes and dislikes. Geography, social history, politics and the human race are all presented there in your blog giving me the chance to learn something new.

Thank you!


Another slightly younger Spikey Kudu arrived in the garden.

This email brought tears to my eyes. We posted for the first time in March 2012, almost ten years ago, and our readership continues to grow with many new readers each year. Is this why our readers have stuck with us through boring, mundane, and repetitive posts, year after year?

All we can say is “thank you” to Liz and to every reader who wrote to us, and every reader continues to read our post. With your support, we stay motivated and engaged in bringing you more content, especially now as we hope to enjoy more freedom of travel.

Will this war in Ukraine have an impact on our future travels? As always, only time will tell. But, again, travel freedom can change in a moment, as we’ve seen over the past two years. In the interim, we continue to make as many plans as possible at this point.

Have a pleasant Monday!

Photo from one year ago today, February 28, 2021:

Tom and I and Ken and Linda, great friends from Marloth Park who happened to be in Sydney at the same time as us! Small world! In May, we’ll see them again in England. For more photos, please click here.

A precious gift from Mother Nature…

Bossy arrived with her baby and another mom and baby. We couldn’t have been happier to see her young one.

Last evening, when seated at the table on the veranda, as we chatted while listening to music using our excellent JBL Flip Essential speaker, suddenly we saw Bossy in the garden. I can tell it’s her due to many of her markings I’ve come to know, along with the ease with which she approaches the veranda.

The baby is quite young and skinny. Soon she/he will fill out from suckling from Bossy over the next few months. Before too long, she/he will start eating vegetation and even some pellets.

Bossy has been visiting us since the first week we were back in Marloth Park in January 2021. Over the months, we noticed she was pregnant as her belly grew month after month. Most recently, we were amazed by how huge she’s become and how hungry she seems to be. The gestation period for kudus is 240 days, about eight months.

She appeared healthy and well-fed. Surely, we aren’t the only house she visits in the bush and is well fed from grazing and generous offerings of pellets and suitable vegetables. Most residents in Marloth Park that feed the animals offer considerably fewer pellets during the summer months, like now, when the bush is rife with natural food sources befitting their diet.

Once we can determine its gender, we will come up with a name. Right now, it’s hard to see

But, once we start feeding, it’s hard to stop due to their and our enjoyment in the animal’s frequent visit. Perhaps, it’s selfish of us to offer pellets when there’s plenty of vegetation available to them in the bush, which we’ll admit we are. But, we’ve cut down from going through three bags of pellets per week in the winter months when food is scarce when they nearly starve to less than one bag a week now.

Most likely, the majority of our pellets go to warthogs like Little and his friends and wildebeests Broken Horn and Hal, who all visit many times a day. Of course, a “pig is a pig,” and they, along with many of the larger mammals, consume volumes of food per day, far beyond what we’d imagine.

Kudus are such beautiful animals with their markings, stature, and grace.

Undoubtedly, our frequent offerings of pellets impact the number of animals that visit us year-round. Certainly, this may have precipitated Bossy’s interest in returning several times a day, especially over the past few months when surely, she must have been ravenous so close to the birth of her young.

“Typically, kudus only give birth to one offspring, although there have been cases of twins as indicated here: Most commonly one calf is born though on rare occasions twins may be born. … Male calves remain with the mother in the maternal herd till they are 1½ years of age. Females will remain for longer than this. Sexual maturity is reached by the greater kudu at 1 to 3 years of age.”

When she arrived last evening, with her baby after we hadn’t seen her in a few days, we were shocked at first. Most kudus keep their young hidden in the bush for 4 to 5 weeks before bringing them out to graze. However, we believe that Bossy lives in our garden in the bush, hidden away in the dense vegetation, simply because we often see her.

The baby was very skittish around us.

It is entirely possible she brought the baby out from hiding to show it off. This morning, she arrived on her own, without the baby. Perhaps, she tucked away the little one, once again for protection. We wonder if the animals are aware of the nearby lions in Marloth Park. Most likely, they are and may have become extra cautious. These animals are more intelligent than we think.

In any case, we know it’s Bossy based on her distinct markings, the fact her huge belly is no more, and the addition of the precious little kudu following her around last evening, for a short period they were here. What a sight to behold!

It’s a quiet day at the house today, although we’ve had many visitors in the garden, including Gordy, Thick-Neck, Little, Hal, Frank, and the Misses, Duiker Couple, Chevy, and a sweet impala mom and baby whose photos we’ll share in tomorrow’s post.

Tonight, we’re off to Jabula for dinner with Rita and Gerhard, with the festivities for my birthday beginning on Sunday.

Happy day!

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

Warthogs and kudus were generally getting along while eating pellets. For more photos, please click here.

Today is the day our current visas expire…Ordering health insurance…A convenient free online shared calendar app…

This is Bossy, who is pregnant and contemplating a drink from the swimming pool. There are only small amounts of chlorine in pools here to prevent the wildlife from illness.

All we can do about our visas expiring today is wait until we hear from South Africa immigration that our visas have been extended. In the interim, we’ve decided not to worry. We filed for the extensions within the time frame they require, so we should be fine.

Tomorrow, coinciding with our visa expirations, our rental car is due to be returned by 3:00 pm, 1500 hrs. Tom will drive to Nelspruit without me. I don’t particularly appreciate driving through the gorge halfway through the trip. Tom has no problem going on his own, and I can easily busy myself while he’s gone for three-plus hours in the afternoon.

We’ve arranged for him to pick up another car at a different dealer. We had to do a lot of research to find another affordable rental car. Since the onset of the pandemic, rental car prices have gone through the roof. Every 90 days, when we need a different contract, we struggle to find cars at reasonable prices, even here in South Africa, where prices had previously been affordable when we arrived in 2018.

Her pregnant status is easy to determine from these photos. It will be fun to see her bring her little one to visit us in the future. The gestation period for a kudu is about 240 days.

Staying in any location for extended periods always presents some challenges. Not having a home, our own car, and the insurance that goes with such ownership, on top of the problems due to finding and securing good health insurance. Today, I’ll be renewing my policy with SafeTrip from United Health Care.

With Tom’s excellent health, we aren’t insuring him right now. Once we’re on the move again, especially when some cruises require proof of health insurance which includes emergency evacuation, which makes sense to have when cruising as seniors, we’ll both be insured.

The policy has a limit of US $50,000 due to my age. I purchased the policy today for me beginning tomorrow, ending on April 8, the day we sail away. A few days before the cruise, I’ll sign up both Tom and me for a new 90-day policy. I always post a notice on our combined Cozi Calendar, a free family calendar app available online to keep track of the expiration dates.

Bossy with a few impalas in the background vying for pellets.

If you’re interested in an easy-to-use, conveniently shared calendar for travel or day-to-day appointments, this app is ideal easier to use than those offered by other providers. Here’s the link for the free app. You can choose to pay a fee for a slightly more sophisticated version, but we’ve never needed to do so.

When I awoke at 5:30, I stayed in bed reading news until finally, at 7:00, I bolted out of bed, ready to tackle the day. I decided to make dinner with the leftover ingredients from Friday night’s dinner party. There was a good-sized ziplock bag of cut-up chicken breasts which I’d frozen on Friday.

Last night, after returning from dinner at Jabula with friends, I took the bag of the cubed-cooked chicken out of the freezer and put it into the refrigerator to find it fully defrosted this morning. With that and many leftover vegetables, I had enough ingredients to make three more low-carb pot pies. Tom will have one tonight and another tomorrow, while I’ll eat one tonight and have something different tomorrow, maybe tuna salad atop a big green salad that suits me just fine.

Impalas are quite shy around humans and scurry if we make the slightest sound or movement while they visit.

As for today, a lovely coolish day with tolerable humidity, I did three loads of laundry after prepping the meals and putting away all of the dry laundry on the rack. To increase my steps, I fold one item at a time and walk it to where the item belongs, Tom’s closet in our bedroom, my chest of drawers in the second bedroom, or towels in the kitchen. It’s amazing how many steps I can get in doing laundry this way. I make a point of walking with vigor to increase my heart rate.

That’s it for today, folks. We hope you have a delightful Sunday and a new week to come.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 23, 2021:

Love Bird's Nest
View of the veranda and pool at our house in the bush. For more, please click here.

Booster or not to booster?…

Big Daddies often hang around together and easily share pellets, as shown here.

There’s no way we can avoid bringing up Covid-19, but we have chosen, based on our reader’s preferences, not to get into politically charged issues. We’ll let all of you pursue those aspects of the pandemic on your own if you so choose. For us, we’ve had enough news about it.

But, now we’re faced with the prospect of getting a booster, and we prefer to base our preference to get a booster based on our health issues and potential risks. With my medical history, mainly cardiovascular-related, I’ve decided to have a booster. Tom has decided not to, which is entirely up to him. I impose no pressure on him whatsoever. It’s his choice.

This could easily be a dad and son.

On Friday, we’re heading to Malalane for Tom’s dental appointment to implant the two teeth he had pulled months ago. After the dentist, surely, he’ll require a few prescriptions, so we’ll head to Click’s Pharmacy to have them filled. While there, I will be able to get the vaccine booster.

After considerable research, I’ve decided on the “mix and match” concept. From the CDC website:

Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen

You are eligible for a booster if you are:
18 years or older

When to get a booster:
At least two months after your shot

Which booster should you get?
Any of the COVID-19 vaccines authorized in the United States

Check out the gorgeous face of this male kudu.

Based on the lower efficacy of the J & J vaccine, I decided a single dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Friday would round out my protection. Of course, I ran this by Dr. Theo last time I saw him, several weeks ago, and suggest that you do the same with your doctor, should you or any family members decide on getting a booster.

I considered waiting until we get to the US, but the vaccines used here are the same as those used in the US. There’s no point in waiting. Besides, according to Worldometer, Florida is #3 on the list of states with the most cases, including 2000 new cases as of yesterday. It makes sense to be better protected before we go.

They are always on the lookout for the next morsel of food. Times are tough right now with a severe lack of vegetation.

Even in our former state, Minnesota, there were 6879 new cases yesterday.  There were only 950 new cases yesterday in Nevada, our state of residency. Why cases continue to rise in some states is not clearly defined by the CDC. There is still limited information available as to why there is an increase in cases in many areas worldwide.

No, the vaccine does not provide 100% safety or efficacy, but it seems to reduce the number of hospitalizations and deaths. Deaths are down, but cases continue to rise in many countries throughout the world. That in itself is motive enough for me to get the booster.

Often, other animals clear out when a Big Daddy arrives.

Only each of us can decide what is best for us, our state of health, along with recommendations by our medical professionals. Medicine is not a finite science. It is changing daily. But it’s easy to get caught up in old dictates and directives from the powers that be. Staying on top of the latest developments is our only way of being our own best advocates.

It is up to each of us to do our research, from reliable sources, not from Facebook and other social media, to help us make sensible decisions with the support of our doctors, especially in cases where there are comorbidities that may impact receiving a vaccine and a booster.

That’s our comments for today, folks. Have a safe and healthy day!

Photo from one year ago today, November 3, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #225. Tom, chipper, as usual, during breakfast while we were on a 33-night cruise circumnavigating the Australian continent. For more, please click here.

Sad sighting in the bush…Oh, good grief!…Tooth extraction socket is infected…

This morning, when we spotted this injured kudu in the garden, we immediately contacted the rangers. Hopefully, soon, they will find her and have the vet help her out. It’s heartbreaking to see such an injury.

This morning, after a painful and fitful night due to pain in my extracted tooth socket (more on that below), I did what I always do upon awakening, say good morning to Tom, who is always up before me, and then check the action in the garden. There were the usual bushbucks, including Stringy, Thick Neck/Bad Leg, Spikey, and Holey Moley, and the frequently visiting four adult female kudus, including my favorite Bossy.

Immediately, they approached the veranda when they saw me as I thought about the big bags of carrots on the kitchen counter. I asked Tom to toss some pellets while I got the carrots. Before I turned on my heels, I noticed something unusual about one of the kudus. Her right eye was bleeding.

Her eyelid is hanging there. It is heartbreaking to see. We’re hoping the ranges will get here soon. We’ve done everything we could to keep her here with the other female, but sooner or later, they wander off.

To keep them around long enough so I could take a photo and send it to Jaco, the head ranger in the park, I grabbed the bag of carrots, and we both started tossing chunks to them. I grabbed the camera while Tom continued sending carrots their way but struggled to get a good shot of the injured eye.

After waiting patiently, I managed to get the photos we’re sharing here today. I sent them to Jaco via Facebook Messenger, and within a few minutes, he acknowledged my message in which I’d included two photos and our address. Hopefully, sometime today, they will find her since they hang out in specific areas, and the vet can treat her. I imagine he’d clean it, try to sew it back in place and treat her with antibiotics. They dart the animals to provide such medical care.

This is what we saw upon first spotting her. Upon closer inspection, we took the above photos.

We may never hear back regarding the outcome, but we can only hope she’ll be found and treated somehow. It was heartbreaking to see. They are such sweet and gentle animals, and it’s hard to see them suffering for any reason. It’s hard enough right now that they constantly search for tidbits of food when the bush is so dry.

Surprisingly, most of the wildlife looks healthy, with few ribs protruding from lack of food. Thank goodness, so many of us feed regularly. The only nature we see looking too lean are those with some illness, injury, or impediment of some sort that prevents them from foraging. If this poor injured kudu isn’t treated, this may happen to her if she gets an infection.

Yesterday, four wildebeest, none of them Broken Horn, who’s a loner, came to call, coming right up onto the veranda to the door, looking for us.

Speaking of infections, the socket where my tooth was pulled on Monday has become infected. The second day after the procedure, I was feeling pretty good. But, on Wednesday, the pain escalated, and I began to be concerned. I contacted Dr. Singh, and he ordered antibiotics, Z-Pack, the 3-day 500 mg dose. I started them yesterday afternoon, at 3:00 pm. I’m also taking prescribed probiotics several hours after the one pill dose.

But last night was unbearable. I hurt so much my ear was hot and red, and my face was swollen. It came on suddenly, in a matter of 24 hours. Dr. Singh had suggested I take antibiotics on the day of the procedure but after taking them for five days a few weeks ago, in a feeble attempt to heal the pain in the tooth after the root canal had been done in that same tooth. But, I said, “Let’s try it without antibiotics.”

We didn’t dare go outside. Wildebeest horns can be deadly.

It continued to hurt when I chewed on that side and brushed my teeth. In the past year, I’ve taken antibiotics four times due to issues with two teeth. When the antibiotics didn’t work this last time, resulting in the tooth being extracted along with all the pins in place from the recent root canal, done in June before we left for the US, I hesitated to take antibiotics. Of course, I hesitated over another round.

This time my decision was wrong. I should have taken the antibiotics on Monday. I was in deep trouble in excruciating pain by Wednesday night that kept me awake for the past two nights. On Thursday, I contacted Dr. Singh’s office, and he prescribed the Z-Pack, which I took promptly at 3:00 pm (1500 hrs). After a horrible sleepless night taking several Paracetamol and Advil spread over several hours, a cold pack on my face, frequent salt water rinses, I finally drifted off.

We’ve never seen them be aggressive to us, but we are cautious. On many occasions, we’ve seen them go after other animals when competing for pellets or carrots. Otherwise, they leave others and humans alone unless threatened.

This morning, I awoke to a 50% improvement in the pain and can’t wait to take the next dose this afternoon, followed by several probiotic hours later.

Tonight, with Rita and Gerhard back from a two-week trip to Germany to see family, we’re scheduled for dinner at Jabula with them and Kathy and Don.. I will spend the majority of today resting and taking it easy. Besides, with the current Covid-19 curfew, we usually leave Jabula by 8:30 pm (2030 hrs) and will be back home hoping for a restful night.

So, folks, there’s our past 24 hours which were challenging to say the least. Hopefully, my situation will continue to improve over the weekend, and Ms. Kudu will get the treatment she needs.

Have a pleasant weekend.

Photo from one year ago today, September 17, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #178. In Fiji in 2015, our neighbor Sewak drove us up this outrageously steep hill in his truck for this view. For more photos, please click here.

Busy weekend in the bush…

Tom was tossing pellets to Broken Horn and a young male kudu we call Medium Daddy.

This morning, we awoke to our usual band of mongoose looking for meat and fat, which we’d cut up into bite-sized pieces after last night’s beef roast Tom had for dinner. I have been eating soft foods until the loose temporary crown gets replaced on Monday when we return to Dr. Singh in Malalane.

Moments later, Broken Horn arrived in his ceremonious manner, scooting every other animal in his path to leave a clear spot in the garden for “his” pellets and carrots. A mongoose grabbed a big chunk of carrot, carrying it to the cement on the side of the pool, banging it over and over again, assuming he could crack it open to see what was inside. This always makes us laugh.

There are about 24 helmeted guinea-fowls that occupy our garden most days and in the early evening until they take off to hunker down for the night.

After a while, a warthog approached him and snatched the chunk of carrot, eating it while making loud crunching noises. It’s a laugh and fun fest every hour of every day. Now, as the days dwindle to our departure, I can avoid feeling sad about leaving, knowing we’ll return 14 months later.

Now, with this peace of mind, I can allow myself to embrace our upcoming trip to Arizona while we stay put for three months in Apache Junction until we fly to Florida in February for Karen and Rich’s wedding.

There were nine kudus in the garden, certainly not the most we’ve seen at once but enjoyable to see.

While we are in Arizona,  I plan to meet up with my sister Julie (who lives in LA) to spend a few days in Scottsdale. We will drive to the airport to pick her up when she arrives, head to our planned hotel where he’ll drop us off. He’ll return to Apache Junction to spend time with his sisters while I am away and then pick me up when it’s time to drop Julie at the airport to return to LA. Julie and I hadn’t had much alone time together except when she came to visit us in Kauai in 2015.

We wish we could go to Minnesota, but it will be the worst of the winter there while in the US, so we may not head there this time. However, we may be returning to the US at the end of the booked cruise from Tokyo to Seattle in the spring, a much better time to go to Minnesota. As always, we have to wait and see what happens with Covid-19.

This “forkl” of kudus consisted of eight females and one young male shown in the forefront.

While cases of Covid-19 escalate to some of the highest-ever levels, we’ll be somewhat isolated in Arizona in the retirement community. Few “snow-birds” will have arrived while we’re there, and many, with fears of Covid-19, may stay away during the upcoming winter. There are still many cases of Covid-19 in Arizona, which is in the #10 position of the most cases of all states in the USA.

Of course, while in Arizona,  we’ll avoid crowds and large gatherings and wear our masks anytime we go shopping or to public places. We hope to be able to get vaccine boosters while in Arizona at some point, based on the fact we had the one-jab Johnson & Johnson on the first of July, which means six months will have passed since the original jab by the end of December while we’re still in Arizona. Such a booster for J & J has yet to be determined.

Kudus are gentle and relatively non-aggressive, but caution must be exercised. They are wild animals and rather large, with males possessing massive, dangerous horns.

Tonight, as always, we’re heading to Jabula Lodge and Restaurant for dinner. We usually arrive at 5:00 pm (1700 hours) and hang around at the bar, chatting with owners Dawn and Leon and any other guests who happen to stop in. We are careful to maintain safe distances from other guests, particularly those we don’t know who may not have been vaccinated. A few hours later, we head out to the veranda to sit at a table for our meal at dinner-time. On occasion, we may eat at the bar.

Tomorrow night, Kathy and Don will join us for yet another evening at Jabula. Again, we’ll arrive at 5:00 pm, but they usually arrive at 6:00 pm. They are less inclined to sit at the bar and prefer having drinks and food at a table on the veranda. This works fine for us, giving us a little schmoozing time at the bar ahead of their arrival.

After most of the females wandered off, this lone young male and Broken Horn hung around for a while.

Sunday will be a low-key day.  We’ll stay in, make Sunday dinner while I’ll continue to spend the better part of the day working on corrections. I am on a roll right now, getting through a full page of 20 posts each day or more. At this rate, I have 48 pages of 20 posts to complete. As of today, there are 41 days until we leave for Arizona. I am hoping to be done by the time we go here on October 21st. It’s a lofty goal but doable.

Well, folks, not much excitement around here right now, but we are content. We have power, WiFi, lots of visitors, lots of friends, and the weather will be cool, up until next Tuesday, according to the 10-day forecast. I have a few itching mozzie bites at this time, and we haven’t seen any snakes or many venomous insects in the house. What more could we ask for, living in the bush?

Oops, I have to go! Frank is back looking for his seeds, and Broken Horn is barking from the garden, looking for pellets and carrots! I’d better get this show on the road!

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, September 10, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in hotel lockdown for ten months in Mumbai, India, on day #171. As we wandered through the busy local farmer’s market, open daily, it was hard to decide which vendor to choose for our purchases. We purchased the following for FJD 22, $10.12: two red bell peppers (also called capsicum here); six medium-sized aubergines (eggplant); three heads of cabbage; and eight large carrots. For more photos, please click here.

This morning’s first ever event in the bush with photos!!!…Wow!…

We scurried indoors when this Big Daddy came right up to the door from the house to the veranda.

To all of our friends/readers in the US, we wish all of you a safe and pleasurable Labor Day weekend. Please drive safely, observe local Covid-19 restrictions and enjoy time with family and friends, cooking outdoors, fishing, boating, or whatever you choose to do during the long holiday weekend.

It was shocking to see how brave they were in approaching us. We stayed clearly out of range the entire time they were here.

As for the weekend here in the bush, Marloth Park is relatively quiet with some holidaymakers, mainly from South Africa, who have come to escape life in the big city and relax peacefully in the bush. Nowhere in the world have we’ve ever been offered the depth of serenity and peace than Marloth Park.

There wasn’t a lot we could do when he approached us, other than getting behind the door. If we tried to scare him off, he could have used his massive horns on us.

Although from time to time that may vary due to visit by those select few who see this magical place as a “party town” where there is minimal police presence with many opportunities to go wild, drinking, to drive fast, and to have little regard for others seeking the peacefulness of living among the wildlife.

I accidentally dropped a carrot which he couldn’t quite reach. He came around to the other side to get it.

Fortunately, where we are located, the property backing up to Lionspruit, we rarely hear any noise other than the weekday construction work on a house across the road. In Marloth Park, there are strict regulations about weekend and evening construction noises to avoid disturbing visitors and the wildlife. Most comply or face fines.

He was contemplating how to get the carrot before he came onto the veranda.

This morning, as I struggled to get out of bed after staying up until after midnight with only about 5 hours’ sleep, Tom came to the bedroom, hoping I hadn’t gone back to sleep to tell me to hurry and come outside. He didn’t want to awaken me if I dozed back off. But, I was wide awake playing a fun word game on my phone.

Such beautiful and majestic creatures! See how he was checking out the bag of carrots.

I bolted out of bed to head directly to the veranda, and there they were…four mature Big Daddy kudus, seeing what we had for breakfast. We couldn’t have been more thrilled. Sure, we get one or two Big Daddies from time to time. But, four was something we’d never seen.

There they were, the four adult male kudus munching on pellets we tossed into the garden.

Quickly, I ran to the kitchen for the remaining carrots from the considerable bag we’d purchased at the market last week, and we both started tossing thick, whole carrots in their direction. They gobble them up in minutes, leaving us grabbing for pellets to throw onto the ground. As always, we never feed wildlife by hand, especially not Big Daddies with their enormous horns that could easily eviscerate a human in seconds.

Kudus are not violent animals, but they can startle easily, push one another, or lunge unintentionally. Besides leopards, the occasional lion, or warthogs with razor-sharp tusks, they are the most dangerous wildlife in Marloth Park. Even the adorable male bushbucks who visit us all day and night are extremely dangerous with sharp and long horns. One can never be too careful around any wild animal.

Broken Horn was in the background, but he seemed to get along well with the Big Daddies.

It was quite a delightful experience to be among them. We felt very fortunate to be privy to this amazing visit. And even if they never return together again, we are grateful for the opportunity to witness such magnificence.

Last night, our friends Fiona and Alan came for dinner. Alan is a prolific writer of outstanding published books on Marloth Park. He is a wealth of stories and information about this magical place after living here for 20 years, and the time spent with the two of them is rife with fantastic wildlife and human stories.

They rarely picked up their heads for full-face photos.

We had a lovely evening on the veranda with them, with our new speaker spewing out music to highlight the evening. We kept the speaker indoors (not too loud) to avoid making too much noise in the bush. The dinner turned out well, and the evening flowed with ease. As always, I was glad I’d prepared so much of the meal in advance.

We had various visitors while they were here, primarily warthogs, bushbucks, and many mongooses, who’ve been hanging around with us for days. Once they arrived, we savored the starters. We then put the meat on the braai, cooked the rice, reheated the roast vegetables, and tossed the salad with the homemade dressing. We sent them home with a “doggy bag” of leftovers.

Hmm…another lovely weekend here in Marloth Park. Tomorrow morning, I have an appointment with Dr. Singh to have that problematic tooth pulled. If we haven’t posted before leaving here at 10:15 for the long drive, hopefully, I’ll feel well enough to wrap it up when we return.

Have a fantastic day!

Photo from one year ago today. September 5, 2020:

We posted this photo one year ago while in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #166. We visited Blarney Castle as a port of call on a cruise in 2015. For more, please click here.

Adults only, please…Rutting season in full bloom in Marloth Park…Love is in the air!…

The above video is intended for “adults only.” We consider it a part of the wonder of nature, offering us a front-row seat on how wildlife finds their mates, court their potential mates, and ultimately propagate in the wild. Certainly, some may feel that this is inappropriate. We kindly ask you not to write to us in this regard.

This is nature at its finest, and for us, it is fascinating to provide us with an opportunity to witness the relationships among wildlife as they seek to preserve their species. Although warthogs do not appear on the list of endangered species, like all wild species, they have their place and their raison d’être on this beautiful Earth.

Whether it’s love or pure instinct of the more intelligent animals, like warthogs, is irrelevant. Watching them interact during this busy mating season in Africa is educational, and we must admit, at times, highly entertaining, when their behaviors are so unlike our own as humans, with some similarities regarding “the chase.”

Big Daddy Kudu is resting in the bush, awaiting the arrival of a female.

No, most of us weren’t courted by our significant others making “train noises.” But, it’s easy for most of us in relationships to recall the methods that members of our species implemented to express an interest. Whether it was a feature of one’s appearance, their scent, often referred to as pheromones, words spoken, or a plethora of other signals humans utilize, knowingly or not, to let the other person become aware of their interest and intent,

Animals in the wild are no different. Their language among one another may not be known to us in most cases, but it’s easy to detect, as we observe them in the wild, that they have no difficulty communicating with one another. Today’s video and a few photos illustrate this point.

Shortly after that, this female arrived, sitting a short distance away, an example of a subtle and gentle approach.

Who are we to say it’s purely instinctual when the process can be so complex, as we currently observe each day? Living in the bush, day after day, we are gifted with the opportunity to observe these interactions, often subtle and gentle, and at other times, bold and forthright, as shown in the above warthog video.

We hope in many months to come, we’ll see the “fruits of their labor” and be able to revel in the newborn nature has born to these precious animals. Only time will tell if we will be able to stay. The warthog gestation period is from 152 to 183 days; the kudu is 240 days, and the bushbuck is 182 days.

Last night, we had dinner with Linda and Ken at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant and had a fantastic evening. The food, as usual, was delicious, the service was beyond reproach, and the four of us, as always, never had a lull in delightful conversation. Tom and I often arrive an hour before a planned meeting time with friends to have fun sitting at the bar, chatting with Dawn and Leon and their trusty, warm and efficient manager, Lyn.

This is The Imposter, rubbing his scent on a tree. We’ve seen a lot of this “marking” on a few chosen trees in the garden.

There were few guests when we arrived at 5:00 pm, 1700 hours, but after we took our table an hour later when Linda and Ken arrived, more and more diners filtered in. It feels safe there with the employees well masked and the tables sensibly socially distanced. Hand sanitizer is readily available in all areas.

Tonight, Linda and Ken are coming for dinner with sundowners with snacks at 4:00 pm, 1600 hours. Dinner, suitable for all of our “ways of eating,” will be served a few hours later. Today, it’s surprisingly cool and windy. If it becomes any cooler and stays this breezy, we may have to dine indoors at the dining room table, which we did on another occasion when they were here, when it was raining in buckets.

The reason we’ve recently seen two Big Daddies certainly has to do with the fact that several females frequent our garden.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow as the adventures in the bush, nature at its finest, continue.

Have a fabulous weekend!

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

A parade of elephants crossing a dirt road in Kruger. For more photos, please click here.

Holiday makers arriving in the park starting today…Noisy weekend in the bush?…

Big Daddy is such a handsome animal.

We are located on the borders of Lionspruit, the wildlife conservancy within a wildlife conservancy. From our front yard or back garden, we cannot see another house. The only human noise we hear from time to time is the sound of children laughing while in a splash pool, which we can easily handle, the distant sound of a generator when the power is out and the occasional sound of trucks passing with supplies for a house being built in the area.

Other than those sounds, the only sounds we hear consistently is the blissful sounds of wildlife; whether it birds, mongoose making their chittering sounds, warthogs snorting and grunting, impalas barking like a dog, various chirping insects and frogs, the lion’s roar, and the difficult to describe occasional sounds made by kudus, zebra, and wildebeest. It’s all music to our ears.

Big Daddy was posing for a photo.

One of our favorite sounds is made by Frank and The Misses, a loud bird call like none other, at sunrise and sunset, and occasionally during the day, and the gentle chirp when they happily eat their seeds and drink water from the little containers, both of which we refill several times a day.

Otherwise, the quiet is profound. No traffic sounds, no loud music, with no yelling and loud voices. When we lived at the Orange House in 2018/2019, the human sounds were deafening at times. We could easily see three or four-holiday homes from the garden and hear the rambunctious sounds of holidaymakers during the endless stream of holidays in South Africa.

Marloth Park has distinct rules available to every visitor in regards to noise. This is a place to come to unwind, relax and revel in the wonders of nature and wildlife. Loud noise is prohibited and may result in steep fines. But, many tourists pay little attention to the rules.

He stood quietly for a few hours, watching the action around him with many other animals in the garden.

Not only did we hear screaming, yelling, and “drunk talk,” but loud music permeated the air. It wasn’t unusual to hear swearing and name-calling from that location. Here, nothing. At most, we’ll listen to the children’s sounds and an occasional car driving past. This house is set back far from the road, making passing vehicle noises barely detectable.

Upcoming this weekend is yet another South Africa holiday, called a “school holiday,” which may be found at this link. For the regular government holidays, please click here.

This upcoming school holiday, of course, meaning kids are out of school, impacts tourism in Marloth Park beginning on April 23 and continues until May 3 for a total of 10 days. During these several long stretches throughout the year, Marloth Park is rife with tourists, with considerable fast driving on the paved road Olifant and all the dirt roads, which often results in the killing of many animals.

Big Daddy is in the background with two females ready for more pellets.

As mentioned over Easter weekend, seven of our beloved animals were killed by hit-and-run drivers, some of which were killed instantly and others who had to be euthanized. Each time we don’t see some of our favorites in the garden over days, we end up wondering if they were one of the victims of these ruthless drivers, until once again they grace us with their presence, filling us with a sense of relief.

Likely, we won’t see much wildlife during the ten days when often, they are hiding in the bush away from the commotion or being fed inappropriate foods that they, like humans, can’t help but like. During these periods, we seldom see many of our wildlife friends. In actuality, that has already begun when, this morning, we only saw a few warthogs, bushbucks, and of course, Frank and The Misses, who we’ll continue to see since Francolins are territorial. It’s doubtful they leave the property.

Also, beginning this weekend, it’s necessary to make an appointment to enter Kruger National Park. Visitors may use this site to book their appointments. Due to the crowds in Kruger, we won’t be visiting any time during the holiday period. Also, our usual drives in search of photo ops in Marloth Park will cease during this period.

Young Mr. Bushbuck is hoping for some pellets when the warthogs take over. We always find a way to get some to him and the other gentle bushbucks.

We hope we’ll continue to have good photos during the next ten days for our daily posts. We’ll do our best to ensure we can post new photos. Fortunately, we have enough groceries and bags of pellets to avoid the necessity of driving to Komatipoort to shop, where it will also be hectic.

Oops, I spoke too soon! Nine kudus just arrived in the garden, including some youngsters and Big Daddy. The camera is clicking non-stop! A grouping of kudus like this is called a forkl.

Little, in the side garden, searching for any leftover pellets we’d tossed to the bushbucks.

May your days and nights be pleasant and fulfilling.

Photo from one year ago today, April 22, 2020:

A distant elephant across the Crocodile River. For more from the year-ago post, please click here.

Repeating the vaccine registration process…Stats on the majestic maturing male kudu…

He stood there for quite a while, but we stayed inside the house until he backed off.

When we didn’t receive a confirmation text expected within 24 hours of both of us registering for South Africa’s Covid-19 vaccine, I searched online for possible reasons. When the site went live yesterday, we were two of the first 126,000 that registered. I found a mention that we may need to re-register again today due to traffic on the site.

If you didn’t see yesterday’s post, here is the link to register for the Covid-19 vaccine in South Africa.

Also, when I entered our US phone number with a “1” in front of the area code, I needed to use +1, but there weren’t enough spaces in the field to enter the +1, which is the US country code. Today, as soon as I’ve uploaded this post, I will re-register both of us, using Louise’s South Africa phone number for her to receive the texts to notify us that our application has been received and where and when to go for the vaccine sometime in May or later.

I don’t like inconveniencing her like this, but she is always willing to help in any way she can. We are assuming the South African vaccine portal didn’t accept our US phone number. We will see how that goes.

These male kudus, when fully grown, may weigh 190 kg to 270 kg, 419 pounds to 595 pounds.

It’s a busy Saturday morning in the bush. There must not be as many holidaymakers here this weekend. This morning, we’ve had a steady stream of visitors, including the first “Big Daddy” kudu who visited our garden since we arrived in January.

His horns weren’t as massive as a more mature Big Daddy, but in time they will be. His massive muscular body was a treat to behold.

From this site:

“The kudu’s horns do not begin to grow until the bull reaches 6–12 months, twisting once at around two years of age and not getting the full two-and-a-half twists until the age of six.
Not quite full-grown with horns yet to grow, this Big Daddy stopped by early this morning.

Greater Kudu facts

  1. Kudu are highly alert and notoriously hard to approach. When they detect danger – often using their large, radar-like ears – they give a hoarse alarm bark, then flee with a distinctive, rocking-horse running motion, the male laying back his horns to avoid overhead obstructions.
  2. The common name kudu is derived from the indigenous Khoikhoi language of Southern Africa. The scientific name is Greek: Tragos denotes a he-goat and elaphos a deer; Strephis means ‘twisting,’ and Keras means ‘horn.’
  3. The horns of a mature bull kudu have two and a half twists and, if straightened, would reach an average length of 120cm. However, they may occasionally have three full twists, and the record length is a whopping 187.64cm. The horns do not begin to grow until the bull reaches 6–12 months, twisting once at around two years of age and not getting the full two-and-a-half twists until six. They have long served different traditional communities as both embellishment and musical instruments, including the shofar, a Jewish ritual horn blown at Rosh Hashanah.
  4. Male kudus are rarely physically aggressive but may spar during the courtship season, shoving one another with their horns. Occasionally, during these contests, their horns become interlocked and, if unable to free themselves, both males may die.
  5. The traditional sport of Kudu dung-spitting (Bokdrol Spoeg in Afrikaans) is practiced in the South African Afrikaner community. The winner is the contestant who can spit one of the antelope’s small, hard dung pellets the furthest – with the distance measured to where it comes to rest. An annual world championship was launched in 1994, with contests held at community events, game festivals, and tourism shows. The world record stands at 15.56m, set in 2006 by Shaun van Rensburg Addo.

Greater Kudu Conservation Status

According to the African Wildlife Foundation, with only 118,000 kudus remaining in the wild, kudus have a ‘near threatened conservation status.’ Hunters shoot them for their hides and meat, and their horns are a much-wanted collector’s item. Local people use their horns in rituals, store honey, or make instruments out of them. Habitat loss is another threat to the kudu population. Awareness and responsible travel are essential to preserving the kudu population.”

Based on today’s visiting kudu, we’re surmising he is approximately four years old. It was quite a treat to see him early this morning. I was still in bed when Tom quietly came to get me to see the kudu and take a few photos. I was awake, reading news on my phone, and couldn’t bolt out of bed fast enough.

We went indoors when he began to approach us on the veranda.

As it turned out, this particular male was somewhat bold, coming up onto the veranda without hesitancy in search of pellets. Tom and I stayed inside, watching him through the screen door. Unintentionally (or not), kudus have been known to injure humans who get too close, some fatally. We weren’t about to take such a risk.

Once he backed off, Tom tossed out some pellets for him into the garden, which he was content to eat with enthusiasm. Once he was done, he wandered away toward the driveway. There was no way, with those big horns, he could make his way out through the dense bush, the reason we haven’t seen any Big Daddies in our garden during the past three months. However, we have seen fully grown males driving through Marloth Park or visiting friends with more miniature dense bush surrounding their property.

Today is another sunny, cool day with low humidity. It feels wonderful with the gentle breeze wafting through the bush, the sight and the sound of the leaves falling to the ground, and our ability to see further into the bush. But, with winter (upcoming on June 21st) on the horizon, this is a tough time for the wildlife. No doubt, we’ll do our part to feed the wildlife as much as we can afford.
We hope all of our readers have a fantastic weekend.
Photo from one year ago today, April 17, 2020:
Spotting these yellow-tipped stamen on these Anthuriums in Kauai was a first for us. For more photos, please click here.