A little Little in the morning…What a great way to start the day!…

Less than three feet, one meter, from me, Little settled in this spot at the edge of the veranda, napping from time to time.

This morning, only minutes after Tom stepped out onto the veranda, while I was preparing to shower, he called out to me, “Little is here!” We hadn’t seen him in a week.

With holidaymakers coming to Marloth Park over the past holiday weekend (Women’s Day in South Africa), the influx of humans kept many of our favorite animals away. An exception to that has been Tiny who visits each evening within minutes of 4:30 pm, 1600 hours, regardless of what’s transpiring in the park.

Occasionally, he’d get up onto his knees or stand when he’d hear a noise or see something moving in the bush.

As for Little, he’d last visited about a week ago. But Tom shooed him away from eating Frank’s bird seeds and we hadn’t seen him until today. I truly believe he decided to let go of feeling rebuffed and return to see me. Tom is not as attached to him as I am when he considers that Little is like a “bull in a China shop”

After all, it was Little who tore the screen to the lounge door, which has since been repaired. It was Little who came into the living/lounge room in the Orange house, last time we were there. It was Little who languished in the cement pond on hot days. It was Little who precipitated our post entitled, “Pig on the Porch, Pig in the Parlor, Pig in the Pond.” See here for the post.

He rested his chin on the ground or on the edge of the veranda.

It was Little who brought a friend into the house to share in his bounty of pellets as seen in this link. The laughter and amazement we experienced in 2018/2019 are now repeated in 2021, by the intelligence of this bossy and yet charming warthog who continues to bring us great moments of awe and wonder over his ability as a wild animal to communicate with us humans to this degree.

This morning, was it love he exhibited when he nestled on the ground only three feet, one meter, from me after having his fill of pellets and the forbidden birdseed, as I sat in my usual chair at the table on the veranda? He couldn’t take his eyes off of me. I couldn’t help but laugh in sheer wonder.

When Zef and Vusi arrived to clean the house, Little stood up, checking out the visitors. Moments later, he settled back down to his former position, lying down next to the veranda.

Some may say he was looking at me to give him more pellets. But it’s been Tom, who’s tossed him the pellets when he’s better at tossing them into the garden than I am. But, even Tom is amazed by how Little responds to my voice and interacts with me. We always loved our dogs and their ability to communicate in loving ways with us. Pigs, much smarter than dogs, certainly have the ability to do the same. It’s not always about “the food.”

We see a tremendous amount of loving behaviors in the bush. The moms and babies of most species exhibit a tremendous amount of love toward one another. We often see friendly and loving behavior among the kudus, giraffes, warthogs, zebras, bushbucks, and other species. Why would it be so unusual that a wild animal could, under certain circumstances, express caring behavior for us human animals?

Last night’s sunset from the deck at the Amazing Kruger View Restaurant where we dined with Linda and Ken, who left today to return to Johannesburg.

As far as wild animals are concerned, most likely, we are simply another species they encounter in the wild with whom they may choose to interact or not. For those of us impassioned observers who choose to interact with the wildlife in subtle ways, such as through eye contact, voice tones, and appropriate food offerings, we often find ourselves gifted with a response that warms our hearts and fills us with great joy.

Yes, we know. They are wild animals and we shouldn’t attempt to domesticate wild animals. That’s not our intent. Instead, we find ourselves in a state of awe and appreciation over the gifts of life so blissfully bestowed upon us by Mother Nature to enable all of us to live in harmony on this earth.

Yes, Little, and now also Tiny, each in their own way, teaches us the importance of their existence and how we can cohabitate in this special environment. For this, we are grateful, as we spend each and every day living in the bush continually reveling in their very existence, let alone in an opportunity to somehow communicate with them.

We’d intended to post this photo from Friday evening’s sundowner party on our veranda, but WiFi issues prevented us from doing so at that time. We had a great evening, which ended when the mozzies came out with a vengeance.

Tonight, after spending five evenings celebrating life with local friends, we’re staying in. The heat and humidity continue to be outrageously uncomfortable. But, we’re managing well, especially when the air-con in the bedroom allows us to get restorative sleep at night. During the daylight hours, we sweat on the veranda, occasionally taking a break to come into the bedroom to turn on the AC for a short reprieve. Knowing we can do this, helps tremendously.

We’ve had several days without WiFi or power outages which have been delightful. But, as we discussed with Linda and Ken last night at the Amazing Kruger View Restaurant, after all, this is Africa. It’s a hot, dusty, humid, bug-infested, continent with snakes, wild beasts, and dangers in many directions. If one cannot adapt to these conditions, visiting Africa may not be for them.

For us, with all its challenges, we feel right at home, while continuing to stay on guard for any potential risks. By the way, in 30 days, we’ll be on our way to Kenya.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 9, 2020:

Sundowners on the beach at the Ideal Beach Resort located in Mahabalipuram India. For more, please click here.

An old friend comes to call…Sheer delight…

It only took me a split second to realize it was Little, not only by how he looked at me but by his funny-shaped little tusks.

Note: We’ve yet to receive the link for the stream of our interview on Lowveld Radio on Saturday. Once we receive the stream for the podcast, we will upload it in the next day’s post. We’ve returned from Malalane after seeing Dr. Singh, the dental surgeon, and for the first time ever, leaving a doctor’s office, I was on Cloud 9.

There is no abscess, nor is there any issue of any kind with any of my teeth or gums. His sophisticated scanning equipment clearly revealed every aspect of my mouth. He stated emphatically that I had the teeth of a much younger person who’s obviously cared for her teeth all of her life. This news made me smile.

Apparently, the pain I had in my check was a result of a sinus infection, which the antibiotics I’d taken may have resolved. What a relief! I was anticipating bad news, not such good news. We’re both thrilled. After we left the dental office, we headed to Click’s Pharmacy, a store comparable to a CVS or Walgreen in the US. Tom waited in the car while I shopped.

Little kneeling on his knees for some pellets. He was in heaven. Me, too.

I loaded up on some much-needed cosmetic items. After all, I hadn’t been to such a store in over a year, back in the US at the end of 2019. Actually, it was fun to load up on some of my favorite items. In my old life, I usually used department store cosmetics. In the past eight years plus, I’ve been content using drugstore items when I’m able to find such a drug store in any given country. It’s not always possible.

After Click’s we drove a short distance to the massive Spar Market, which is twice the size of the Spar store in Komatipoort with many more options and again, good prices. It was more like Sam’s Club or Costco store. I felt like a kid in a candy store, squealing with delight, each time I found something new, befitting of our way of eating.

From there we headed back to our bush house, anxious to unload our “haul” and get to work preparing today’s post with the intent of getting it uploaded before 4:00 pm. Tonight is a cause to celebrate. But, then again, a lot of evenings are worthy of celebration. It’s comfortable and cool today. The WiFi and power are working. We have a great dinner planned and we couldn’t be more content.

Perhaps a nap was on the agenda, not uncommon for Little.

However, something wonderful happened yesterday afternoon while we lounged on the veranda in the early afternoon. A warthog came up to the veranda looking for pellets. Immediately, Tom said, “Oh, that’s the pig that tore a huge hole in the screen door a few days ago,” while I was indoors. He was trying to make his way into the house.

The moment I looked at him, I recognized him. It was, unquestionably, without a doubt, my boy Little. My heart skipped a beat with sheer joy. It was easy for me to recognize his unique features, particularly, his girth and his flint-shaped little tusks, the reason I’d named him “Little.”

I couldn’t grab the camera quickly enough. But first, pellets were on the menu. Tom tossed him several containers while happily, I took one photo of him after another. As a matter of fact, just to confirm it was him, for which I had no hesitation, Tom looked up old photos of him for comparison and he too agreed, it was, in fact, our boy Little. Sadly, I’d surmised that perhaps he’d been culled during the last culling  2020.

Napping was elusive when there were more pellets on the ground.

The big question remained… Did he remember me from 22 months ago, the last three of which I spent very little time outdoors while recovering from open heart surgery? I’d been stuck lying on the sofa in the lounge room until I was able to walk after the two leg surgeries began to heal. He continued to visit each day during those long three months. When I could muster the strength and energy, I’d occasionally get up to greet him.

Now, keeping in mind that science states that pigs are even smarter than dogs and, we all know dogs remember those they love, years after they’ve been separated for whatever reason. Why wouldn’t a pig? And Little did. He stopped eating pellets while I called him by name, talked to him and looked into his eyes. If a pig could smile with that goofy snout, he would have been smiling.

But, I smiled for both of us. It took over six weeks for him to come here and find us and I accept the reality that I may not see him for many more weeks or even months to come. Having seen him once was magical. Any more times, will be a bonus. I doubt he and Tiny will get along and one could scare off the other permanently as happened at the Orange house with Tusker and Basket. Basket came after Tusker and dominated the garden. Tusker never returned again after having been a regular in our garden for many months.

When we were gone today, Vusi was here cleaning and Little returned and was trying to get inside once again. Vusi suggested we move the big bags of pellets from the lounge to another area. We’ll do this tomorrow.

Ah, yes, I am a died in the wool, animal lover. Some may say I am an “animal whisperer” when so quickly I build relationships with animals, as has always been the case throughout my life. I love them all, big and small, but especially those where eye contact becomes a relevant means of communication, coupled with their response to my high-pitched, yet gentle voice.

We had a great day out and we plan to spend the remainder of today on the veranda, appreciating the cool, rainy weather and the visitors who come to call, hour after hour. Whether it’s Tiny, who usually arrives each afternoon around 4:00 pm, Little, whom we don’t know will return, or the 24 impalas who graced us with their presence only minutes ago. It’ all magical, and will continue to be so for every moment we spend in this life-changing environment.

Currently, we are working on travel options for getting out of South Africa on or about April 12th when our 90-day visa expires. It doesn’t appear there will be a “free” automatic extension for foreign visitors when President Cyril Ramphosa spoke last night, dropping COVID-19 restrictions down to Level 1 from Level 3, easing some restrictions, none of which impact us at this time. As a result, we’ve decided to take a trip out of the country with some exciting possibilities in the works. We will report back once these plans are confirmed, sometime in the next few days.

That’s all folks! Stay safe. Wash your hands. Social distance and for those who can and are willing, get vaccinated.

Happy day.

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

The outdoor dining room at Tuli Tiger Resort. It was very cool at night and we had to bundle up for dinner. For more, please click here.