Had to get a Covid test this morning…Results tomorrow…

Oh, oh…roadblock!
Little, patiently waiting in the garden for the next round of pellets.  

Tom is recovering nicely from his two tooth extractions and had turned the corner on his bad virus/cough/cold, whatever it was. Last night I was awake until 3:00 am, sneezing, blowing my nose, coughing, having difficulty breathing, along with a bad headache. I never get a headache.

I then decided I needed to get a Covid test, not that I needed to know. Whatever I had was running its course. But, it was important for us to know if we need to quarantine for the next two weeks, if I did, have a breakthrough case of Covid-19, although we had the one-shot J & J vaccine in the US on July 1st at the airport in Minnesota upon our arrival.

Hornbill, eating Frank’s seeds.

My big concern was not so much that I could do or take anything to improve the symptoms, but more so, to avoid infecting others in days to come. If the test results are positive tomorrow, both of us will begin to quarantine for a minimum of 10 days since several days have passed since the onset of symptoms.

However, we both could have had the seasonal flu or picked up some bug on our long journey back to South Africa from the US. Fifteen hours on a plane could certainly attribute to “catching” something in such tight quarters. Plus, we spent many hours waiting for our flights in various airports. We’ve only been back nine days as of today. We could even have picked something up here after returning, at the market or out and about.

It was nice to see that One Tusk returned to our garden.

There are more and more discussions in the news about cases of “break-through Covid,” which ultimately have scared away from receiving the vaccine. Many are assuming that the vaccine is useless if the vaccinated are getting the virus. But, it appears that having had the vaccine may significantly reduce the severity of a break-through case.

Again, each person has to decide for themselves and their loved one what course they choose regarding vaccination. In any case, it’s sad to hear about many people dying in hospitals after refusing the jab, compared to only a small number of vaccinated people succumbing to the disease.

Closeup of One Tusk.

This morning we drove to the medical clinic here in Marloth Park. I didn’t see a need to go to Dr. Theo in Komatipoort when all I felt I needed was the test. Nor did I have an appointment or care to visit with any doctors at the clinic here in the bush. As bad as the cough is, I feel that I am turning the corner on day #5 since the onset of symptoms.

Yesterday afternoon, we set up the new camera. Although I didn’t feel like learning the latest features from my similar old camera, I took a few photos, which I’m posting here today. None of the few photos were especially interesting or outstanding, but I will become more enthusiastic about using the camera and learning its features in time.

Broken Horn stops by at least once a day.

Based on the above concerns, we had to turn down Kathy and Don’s invitation to dinner at their lovely riverfront bush home tonight. But, surely once we’re back on track, we will see them again, along with Rita and Gerhard and our other friends.

Hopefully, all of our readers are staying healthy and safe. Be well. Be happy.

Photo from one year ago today, August 4, 2020:

This was a year ago photo posted on this date while in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #134. The Paris Statue of Liberty, the second of two replicas, is much smaller than the one in New York Harbor, USA. For more photos, please click here.

A most exciting trail cam photo!!!…

Last night’s trail cam photos picked up this porcupine! The prospect of getting this photo prompted us to purchase the trail cam. We are so excited to see this!

Each night since we received the trail cam a week ago, we have been hopeful that somehow one night, it would take a photo of the porcupine that Tom has seen six times and me, once. When I got up after Tom, I asked the new question I’ve been asking him each morning, “Did you look at the trail cam photos? Anything exciting, honey?” He’s said each day, “Nothing unusual.” This morning he said, “You’ll have to see for yourself.” It was at that moment I knew. The porcupine showed up in the trail cam photos. I couldn’t shower and get dressed quickly enough.

Holding my breath, I inserted the card reader with the camera data card into my laptop fresh cup of coffee in hand, and quickly scrolled through the photos to find the photo above. No, it’s not as clear as we would have liked. I did my best editing it a little to enhance the image. But, in the dark, at night, it was the best photo the trail cam could get. Nonetheless, we’re thrilled. Apparently, this porcupine may be a regular in our garden, based on how many times Tom has seen it. In the past month, collectively, we’ve seen it seven times. Sure, there’s a possibility it could be more than one porcupine, but most likely it’s the same one over and over. Porcupines are not territorial as per this statement:

“Social system – Porcupines are solitary during much of their lives. Exceptions occur during the winter when as many as 12 may den communally, and during courtship. Porcupines are not territorial, although an individual may drive others from a tree in which it is feeding during the winter.”

Warthog’s wiry hair on their backs stands up when confronted and during mating activities.

Facts about porcupines from this site:

“Porcupines are large, slow-moving rodents with sharp quills on their backs. They are found on every continent except Antarctica. Scientists group porcupines into two groups: Old World porcupines, which are found in Africa, Europe, and Asia; and New World porcupines, which are found in North, Central, and South America. The North American porcupine is the only species found in the United States and Canada.

Sharp quills

All porcupines have a few traits in common. The most obvious trait is the long, sharp quills that cover their bodies. According to National Geographic, some quills can get up to a foot (30 centimeters) long, like those on Africa’s crested porcupine. 

Porcupines use the quills as a defense. They may shake them, which makes them rattle, as a warning to potential predators. If that doesn’t work, they may charge backward into the predator. According to the Animal Diversity Web, the quills are loosely attached, but cannot be thrown or projected. Some quills have scales or barbs that make them very hard to remove. Once a quill is lost, it isn’t lost forever. They grow back over time. A North American porcupine can have 30,000 or more quills, according to National Geographic.

One Tusk,  in his full glory, ready to protect “his tnew erritory,” our garden in Marloth Park.


The largest porcupine is the North African crested porcupine. It grows up to 36 inches (90 centimeters) long. The smallest is the Bahia hairy dwarf porcupine. It grows up to 15 inches (38 cm) long. Porcupines weigh 2.5 to 77 lbs. (1.2 to 35 kilograms), depending on species, and their tails can grow up to 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 cm).”

When and if we’ll ever get a daylight photo of a porcupine remains to be seen. We’ll continue to check out the trail cam photos every day to see what other treasures we can see that enter the garden in the evening. With winter approaching and darkness falling earlier each evening, we look forward to many more exciting trail cam photos, along with the photos we take daily from the veranda and when driving in the park.

There are glands around the warthog’s eyes that produce a secretion during mating seasons and social interactions.

Next week, when the 10 day school holiday period ends and it’s no longer necessary to make an appointment to enter, we’ll be heading back to Kruger National Park for more stunning wildlife sightings which we look forward to sharing here. Our permanent Wild Card (year-long entrance pass) has arrived and we’re chomping at the bit to get back out there.

Tonight, we’re heading to Jabula for dinner with dear friends Linda and Ken who are here in Marloth Park right now. It’s been several weeks since they’ve been here and we have plenty of catching up to do!

Have a pleasant weekend filled with exciting surprises!

Photo from one year ago today, April 30, 2020:

Female lions lounging in the shade, re-posted one year ago while in lockdown in India. For more photos, please click here.

Part 2, Matsamo Culural Village Tour on the border of South Africa and Swaziland…

The Matsamo village consists of many huts such as these, made by the men using straw, wood, vines and cow’s dung.  They are very well constructed.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Tom and Lois have particularly enjoyed the bushbabies nightly visit to the cup of yogurt on the little stand.

Whether or not the villagers of Matsamo actually live the primitive life they described as customary in these modern times, it was indeed interesting to learn about their history and culture.

There are various boma type structures to round up the cattle at night or in which to conduct meetings among the tribesmen.

The young man who provided us with a private tour of the village was enthusiastic and obviously dedicated to the customs of his heritage, many of which we assume continue today to some degree.

The chief, our tour guide’s father, was in a meeting with another tribesman.

It was evident by his detailed descriptions that the male members of the tribe supersede the females of the tribe in many ways with the exception of the grandmother who is held in the highest esteem, even above that of the chief.

The baskets hanging on the side of the boma fence is for nesting chickens.

Women are married at very young ages and many men take two wives.  The first wife will have children, cook, clean and care for the family and continues to do so until the man decides to take a second wife.

The largest hut was for the grandmother where all the teenage girls sleep once past the age of seven or eight years old.

At this point, the first wife is “promoted” and she moves to another hut without a cooking area.  The new wife is then responsible for all of the household tasks while the first wife languishes in an easier lifestyle.  Interesting, eh?

Note the quality construction of the huts.

There is no limit to the number of children the wives may bear regardless of their status in the family unit. Its a lifestyle difficult for most of us to imagine, so far removed from our own reality.  

The chief’s son, the youngest of his 25 children from two wives respectively with two wives, the first with 15 children, the second with 10 children.

After the tour ended, we made our way back to the car and proceeded to drive back to Marloth Park via the proper roads, avoiding the potholed roads.  By early afternoon we were back on the veranda waiting for visitors while Lois and I prepared a lovely dinner for the evening.

This low entrance to the huts is intended to keep invaders out and present a humble entrance for those who are welcomed.  A large stick us kept by the entrance in the event an unwelcomed visitors intrudes.

I guess some things never change especially in our generation of retired seniors, women doing most of the cooking and men taking on other household tasks.  For us, traveling the world over these past six years has led us each to fall into specific roles and tasks based on our skills and interest, less on gender identify roles of decades past.

Decorative items to be worn during festivities and when young women are presented to the chief as potential new wives for himself and others.

I prefer to cook. Tom prefers to do the cleanup and the dishes.  He does the heavy lifting of the 40 kg (88 pounds) pellets while I put away the groceries.  I wash the laundry and if helpers aren’t available he hangs it on the clothesline.

The husband and wife sleep separately on mats on the ground, the man on the right, the woman on the left.  As we entered the hut we had to comply with this left/right ritual, man always on the right.  Hummm…or did he mean “man is always right?”

In many cultures established roles and tasks are distributed by a couple, regardless of gender, in a similar manner, based on expertise, ability, and interest.  This method works well for us and never, do either of us feel we are locked into a specific gender obligation.

Various baskets used for collecting water by the young women from the local river.

Yesterday, Saturday, we embarked on the Crocodile River drive in Marloth Park and once again has some spectacular sightings we’ll share in tomorrow’s post.  

The village was designed to generate revenue for the villagers and many areas were modern and tourist-friendly.

As always, last night’s dinner at Jabula was fantastic along with the fun the four of us had sitting at the bar yakking with Leon, the owner.  Dawn, his wife, and co-owner was out of town visiting family and we kept him entertained as he did us!

For an additional sum, we could have stayed for lunch.  But when reviewing the online menu, we opted out on this when many of the items were wheat, corn, and starch-based and deep fried.

Soon, we’re off to another bush braai in Lionspruit, the game reserve within a game reserve where we’ll spend the better part of the day at Frikkie’s Dam with Louise, Danie, and friends.  It will be a pleasure to share this delightful event with Tom and Lois as their time here is quickly winding down.  In a mere four days, they’ll depart to return to the US.

Several areas were set up for dining and many tourists were dining as we walked through the dining area.

Have a fantastic day, yourselves!  We’ll be thinking of all of you as we take photos while embracing today’s fun event.


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

Exterior photo of the hotel, the Real InterContinental Managua at Metrocentro Mall, where we stayed for two nights, to renew our Costa Rica visas. For more photos and details, please click here.

Part 1, Matsamo Cultural Village Tour on the border of South Africa and Swaziland…

We arrived at the Swaziland border where Matsamo Cultural Village is located just as the show began.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A zebra climbing the steps of the veranda for more pellets as we headed to the car to go to Swaziland.

When Lois expressed an interest in attending a traditional African tribal dance, we asked Louise and Danie what they’d recommend.  They didn’t hesitate when they suggested the Matsamo Cultural Village Tour located on the South Africa side of Swaziland a bordering country.

The Swazi performers are very talented in both singing and dancing.

Here’s a map showing how Swaziland, a separate country, and how it is situated next to South Africa and bordering Mozambique on the east:

Map of Swaziland.

Had this tour been located in Swaziland, we wouldn’t have been able to attend. While in the process of attempting to be granted a visa extension, we were warned not to leave the country resulting in any stamps in our passports.

Tree stumps were used as seats during the performance.

The website for Matsamo was a little unclear as to whether we’d need to be part of a tour group or if we could show up on our own. We tried calling the contact number to no avail and finally decided to take a chance on the over one-hour drive from Marloth Park.

The men performed a traditional dance.

In looking at a map, Tom and Tom mapped out directions and by 10:00 am we were on the road, hoping to arrive in time for the posted 11:30 am performance. As it turned out we barely made it on time when we mistakenly took a shortcut which proved to be the second worst pothole road we’ve experienced in our lives.

The women also performed a traditional dance and song.

Months ago, we’d made a similar mistake by taking a shortcut and ended up with what is described as the worst pothole road on the planet. Yesterday’s road wasn’t as bad as our prior experience, but none the less awful. It was quite the adventure for Tom & Lois!

Performing for tourists provides the village with income. The cost of the performance and tour is ZAR 200 (US $13.70) per person.

Finally, we arrived at the village and proceeded to make our way to the activities with the help of a member of the village who directed us down a path to the performance which was starting at any moment.

Their agility and ability are spectacular.

We found seats in the back row when all the best seats were taken by that arrived earlier than us but with a little maneuvering, we were able to get good enough seats to take photos and also enjoy the 45-minute show.

The colorful dress of the Matsamo people was bright and appealing.

Their voices and dancing skills were exceptional and the four of us were mesmerized during the entire performance. After the performance ended, one of the main performers, a skilled and attractive young man and the youngest son of the chief, approached us and offered to provide a personalized tour of the village and their customs.

We were thrilled to have him show us around and explain the details of their fascinating culture, all of which we’ll share in tomorrow’s post.

At one point audience members joined in the dance while we took photos.

Here’s an overview from the Matsamo Tribe’s website located here:

“Matsamo Customs and Traditional Centre Co-operative is a traditional village near Swaziland and a must for visitors looking to experience authentic Swazi culture, which is well preserved in this, it is named after Chief Matsamo, a prominent Shongwe chief and contemporary of King Mswati II. 

He was the first Swazi chief to reside permanently in the area, and as a reward for his loyalty in defending the territory against invaders from the north, Mswati II allowed Chief Matsamo to remain in charge of the region as an eminent member of Swazi royalty. Today the region is still under the control of the Matsamo Tribal Authority.

Our tour guide walked down this pretty trail with Lois as both Toms and I followed behind as we made our way toward the village for the tour. Tomorrow we’ll continue with Part 2 and photos of how the Matsamo people live.

Matsamo Cultural Village offers age-old folk songs, rhythmic dance performances, including the famous Rain Dance, and music with authentic African instruments, as well as traditional Swazi cuisine. Visitors can also wander on a tour through the village with its many huts and spaces, interacting with the villagers as they go about their daily activities, cultivating their crops, preparing traditional food and fashioning beautiful craft works.

Matsamo Cultural Village is near Kruger National Park, it first opened its doors in 2014 and enjoys great support from the broader community.”

As soon as today’s post is uploaded we’ll be heading out on a drive through Marloth Park to see what’s happening today on the Crocodile River. Tonight, we’re dining once again at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant which no doubt will be another excellent evening.

Have a pleasing and fruitful day!

                                          Photo from one year ago today, October 27, 2017:

Hoffman’s Woodpeckers often stopped by for nectar from the African Tulip Tree in Costa Rica and proceeded to sing. For more photos, please click here.