First of many fantastic evenings with friends in the bush!!!…No bag yet…

Don and Rita toasting the occasion.

Last night, it was cold and dark on the veranda at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant, but the seven of us weren’t hindered at all by the weather. The food and service, as always, were superb, and the companionship was over the top. Finally, Kathy and I were together once again and well as my friend Rita.

The three of us girls sat at one end of the table, and the boys, Tom, Don, Gerhard, and their friend from Germany, Achim, came to visit them for a few weeks. It was a celebration of Gerhard’s birthday. He doesn’t care for cake, but Dawn and Lyn had decorated the table for the occasion.

Rita, Kathy, and me at the end of the table on the veranda.

Our gift to Gerhard? Four bales of prepaid Lucerne from Daisy’s Den, to be delivered whenever he and Rita decide.  On Wednesday, we stopped to purchase the bales, seeds for Frank and The Misses, hornbills, and a big bag of sweet potatoes for the wildlife. We included the receipt for the Lucerne in the birthday card with a note explaining the gift, included with Daisy’s Den’s business card, making the ordering as easy as a quick phone call.

Now, as I type this, we hear the funny little chirping of the mongoose who’ve arrived in a small band. Tom raced indoors to get his leftover rib bones from last night’s dinner. Mongooses are carnivores, and they like bones, but hilariously, they try to crack them open on big rocks in an attempt to get to the marrow. It’s rather funny to watch.

Tom, Gerhard, and Achim to the right. Happy birthday, Gerhard!

As for last night’s get-together, the conversation was delightful among the group as a whole and in the male and female groups. We had so much catching up to do after being gone for four weeks. It was wonderful to be back with our friends once again.

Kathy and Don are hosting a goodbye get-together this upcoming Wednesday at their riverfront bush home. We’re bringing our meat, the dessert; apple crisp served warm, topped with vanilla ice cream. Rita’s bringing the salad, and Kathy and Don will host the side dishes.  We all bring our beverages, which makes hosting a dinner party so much easier when planned this way.

Kathy and Don each ordered the jumbo prawns.

Today, another cool day with sunshine that will hopefully warm the day soon, we’ll stay in. I have to get back to work on post corrections which I’ve ignored for the past week. This morning upon arising very early, I got to work organizing things around the house.

Before we’d left, I filled a large tote with items I’d planned to go through once we returned, mostly old clothes I had to consider giving the heave-ho. It felt good to empty this huge container and make the proper decisions about disposing of old worn-out items. Also, I did three more loads of laundry, hung them on the clothes rack, and started chopping and dicing for tonight’s dinner, homemade taco salad.

This is Gerhards’ eisbein, a huge pork knuckle.

Since those flat little taco seasoning packets contain wheat and tons of chemicals, I found a good low-carb recipe for taco seasoning. It took only five minutes to measure and put together the various spices and shake them until blended. Soon, I’ll cook the big package of mince (90% hamburger meat) in a large pot atop the stove, adding the spices after the meat is cooked and drained.

While we were in the US, both of us enjoyed taco salads, which aren’t necessarily available in South Africa, other than in such big cities as Johannesburg or Cape Town. When making these salads, we don’t use prepackaged grated cheese, which also is infused with chemicals. Here’s an article on why pre-shredded grated cheese is not worth eating.

Now, I have to finish working on dinner and then get to work on corrections. In the meantime, I’m on hold with United Airlines for the 10th time to find out where our bag is and when it will be delivered since it didn’t arrive yesterday as promised. It’s frustrating, to say the least.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow! Have a pleasant Saturday!

Photo from one year ago today, July 31, 2020:

From the year-ago post while in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #130.A surprising close-up of what appeared to be a blue stalk from afar. For more, please click here.

Our bag is supposed to arrive today…We’ll see how that goes…I made a mistake about Tiny…

Little and his newly adopted family stop by for another visit. Pellets on the menu!!!

When we packed that duffel bag while still in Nevada, we included five new pairs of shoes for both of us. I tossed all my old shoes in our hotel room that Id replaced with the three new pairs, leaving me with only two spare worn-out pairs of shoes. Tom did the same, and now he, too, has only two pairs of shoes left.

If we don’t get that bag today as promised by United Airlines, we are up a creek when it comes to shoes. None of these brands and styles can be replaced here in South Africa. Our only option would be to buy them online in the US and have them shipped to us via DHL for more exorbitant costs.

Mom and Baby bushbuck which was born while we were gone. She is so tiny!

We also had our toiletries, including two Braun electric toothbrushes, newly ordered boxes of our business cards, new insulated mugs, and drink koozies, all valued at over US $25, ZAR 365, each, none of which are available for purchase in South Africa.

Also included were several new clothing items and underwear we both desperately needed. Do we trust that the bag will arrive? Not really. We’ll be pleasantly surprised if it does. We arranged for the bag delivered to Louise and Danie’s Info Centre, where they will be all day since the roads to our house might deter a driver from bringing it directly to us.

Baby bushbuck and an older youngster sharing pellets from the container which we use for the bushbucks, to keep the guinea-fowl from stealing all the pellets.

In the interim, we grocery shopped in Komatipoort. We had hoped to go to the liquor store for light wine for me and brandy for Tom but based on the current lockdown in South Africa, liquor sales were suspended from Friday through Sunday, in an attempt to inhibit heavy liquor use over the weekends. When people drink heavily, there are more accidents and injuries, resulting in more of a need for more emergency services and hospital visits during these times of Covid. At least the total ban ended the day after we arrived.

Today was the first time we shopped since our return from the US, although Louise shopped for us for basic supplies on Monday. But, we still needed many items and ingredients for recipes I’d like to make over the next week or two. After today’s extensive shopping we’re probably good for the next ten days, depending on how often we eat out.

Hal and Blue Gnu are coming onto the veranda.

Now, that we’re both rested and recovered from the long travel period from the US to South Africa, we can begin to socialize, starting tonight with a get-together planned for tonight at Jabula to celebrate Gerhard’s birthday. It will be a small group of seven, but tonight, finally, I get to see my dear friend Kathy, who arrived here in the bush a few weeks ago, and Rita and Gerhard, whom we also missed during our time away.

I made a mistake about Tiny. We have not seen him. Instead, I’d mistaken a Tiny look-alike, whom we called The Imposter before we left. In my enthusiasm, I wanted to believe it was him. But, when The Imposter was here with his friend Narrow for quite some time, we both realized it wasn’t Tiny.

We love wildebeest. The expressions on their faces is priceless

Good grief. Not to sound species-specific profiling, but many of the animals do look alike. Often it’s the most subtle of markings and traits that enable us to determine who is who. Although massive, I should have picked it up that The Imposter wasn’t as big as Tiny, nor were the size of warts on his temples.

Now, we wait with bated breath for the real Tiny to return to us. It could be days, weeks or months, or even never. We lost Tusker when we were at the Orange house, and he never returned after Basket scared him away, declaring his territory. A similar scenario could have transpired in the four weeks we were gone. Also, warthogs are often hit by cars on Olifant Road, the main paved road in Marloth Park.

As in the past, Broken Horn stops by each day.

We’ll be sad if Tiny doesn’t return, but we realize this is the bush, and anything can happen to these majestic animals living in the wild.

We hope all of our readers are safe from harm and still managing to cope with the throes of Covid, still facing all of us worldwide.

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

This photo is from the year-ago post while in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #129. Check out the size of the fish and steak portions. Tom was craving peanuts, and we added a few packages to the stash. The brats in the bottom right of the photo are gluten, grain, and sugar-free. The total cost for this haul was US $109,38, ZAR 1595. For more photos, please click here.

Busy morning in the bush!…Trip to Malalane to the dentist and more…No bag yet!…

    When we returned from Malalane, these mongoose and more were awaiting us in the garden. Quickly, Tom began beating some eggs for them.

Tom caught a bad cold on the plane, which has been improving rapidly over the past 24 hours. He took cough medicine with codeine at night, which helps for about three hours, and an antihistamine every 12 hours. With us both suffering from severe lack of sleep from the nine-hour time difference, more than anything, we both needed a good night’s sleep.

As was the case when we arrived in Minnesota, it took three or four nights until we finally got the sleep we needed. Last night, three nights after our arrival, we were each able to sleep for eight hours. Today, now at almost 2:00 pm, 1400 hrs, we both feel a little like taking a nap, which, when done here today, we may do. I am not one for naps, but the past few days, it’s been tempting.

We are well aware that mongoose may carry rabies and also may bite, causing severe infections. We proceed with caution around them.

At the end of June, I had a root canal treatment done by fabulous Dr. Singh, the favored oral surgeon of all of our local friends. The tooth had been infected, as I thought, and Dr. Singh suggested I take antibiotics. After taking antibiotics a few times in the past year, I declined to take them and was willing to wait it out.

Tom brought out the big pan of scrambled eggs, which they love.

After having the procedure a week before we left for the US, I had pain that seemed to last for days. Finally, it tapered off, and I was only left with tenderness when I brushed my teeth. Before leaving the US to return to South Africa, I contacted Dr. Singh to ask if the ongoing pain was an issue. He suggested I come in so he could check it. That’s precisely what we did this morning.

The tooth is healing, and he suggested we wait until the pain is gone to do the crown. I have another tooth that could use a new crown, so sometime in the next month or so, I’ll return and have both crowns done, requiring two appointments. Dental work is so inexpensive here; it makes sense to get these done while here.

A pile of mongoose eating raw scrambled eggs from the pan.

On another note, included in our missing bag was a new pair of jeans I’d purchased while in the US. At this point, I don’t have a single pair of jeans. After the dentist, we stopped at a local shop in Malalane, and I purchased one pair of jeans and two warm shirts, both suitable for cold weather.

It wasn’t easy to find a pair that fit me right. Sizing is very different here. But, after trying on several pairs, I managed to find something suitable. Also, I bought two warm tops that will be useful when we go out at night when the temperature drops, and it’s so cold.

What a joy to see Broken Horn once again. It only took him three days to find his way back to us.

Buildings and houses aren’t heated in South Africa since the winter season is short, and then the rest of the months are hot and humid. When we’ve been so tired over the past several days and nights and feeling especially cold, we had to bundle up with blankets to get comfortable. I’ve even worn socks to bed.

We don’t have room in our bags for bathrobes, resulting in frigid mornings when showering and getting dressed. While in the hotel overnight in Joburg on Sunday, there was no hot water, and we both had to take cold showers that morning we left. That was one chilly morning! Fortunately, I have fashioned some leggings and long-sleeved tee-shirts into what I use as pajamas.

Several kudus stopped by this morning. More and more are returning each day.

Today, we all are pleasantly surprised with a warm day. Right now, it is 82F, 28C, and it’s perfect. No doubt, by tonight, the temperatures will drop again to a low of 59F, 15C. Although that doesn’t sound very cold, it feels very cool when there’s no heat indoors. The past several days have been 10 degrees cooler. Our teeth were chattering.

Last night, Tom fell asleep at 7:00 am, 1900 hrs. I stayed awake until 10:30 pm, 2230 hrs, or later trying to fend off the temptation to fall asleep for as long as I could. It worked; although I awoke at 1:00 am and stayed awake for 90 minutes, Tom had to wake me this morning for the dentist appointment. It is good to feel like my “old self.”

Together, Frank and The Misses are back.

As for the missing bag, last night I called United Airlines again to hear the same report. The bag is on its way to us. But, we don’t feel confident when today is the fourth day since the bag was lost in Newark or Johannesburg. We can only wait and see what transpires.

Many more of our old animal friends have been dropping by. This morning we saw Broken Horn, many bushbucks, mongoose, and several kudus. A short while ago, Frank and The Misses were here eating seeds and drinking water from their little container. We didn’t see Little or Tiny yesterday but hopefully, this late afternoon, they will return. Each day is filled with surprises!

Have a pleasant day and evening and be well.

Photo from one year ago today, July 29, 2020:

From the year-ago post on this date while on day #128 in lockdown in Mumbai, India. We were at the Kampong Cham Temple in Cambodia on this date in 2016. For more photos, please click here.

Perfect bush home upon arrival…No lost bag yet…But, lots of visitors coming to see us!…

Little seems to have adopted a family of three, a mom and two growing piglets with whom he happily shares pellets.

When we entered our bush home on Monday, we were happy to see how it looked and smelled after a deep cleaning was executed while we were away by Vusi and Zef, our two much-appreciated household helpers. Not only was every space neatly organized, and cleaned but the house even smelled fresh.

Living in the bush with all the wildlife, every space is subject to accumulating excessive amounts of dust, including pellet dust, dust from the dirt in the garden, soot from burning sugar cane, and the usual collection of dust from human occupants. Now, of course, once we unpacked, we cluttered the house again with papers and receipts to process in the next few days.

Tiny seemed happy to see us, although he hesitated for a moment to ensure it was us. He is very shy, unlike Little. We are thrilled to see him once again!

For us, returning from such a trip is more than just unpacking, doing laundry, and putting things away. There are countless papers to deal with, especially since we have to file claims for lost luggage. Our missing bag with all of our new items did n.ot arrive yesterday as they’d stated it would.

This morning I called United Airlines lost baggage department and found it was still at the airport and yet sent out for delivery. The rep requested a quick turnaround, and hopefully, it will soon be on the move, arriving in the next few days. They insisted it isn’t lost and will it will eventually arrive.

I swooned with delight to see Frank return. We spotted him in the garden, called for him, and he came running right to his container of seeds. Once again, his two to three daily visits will continue. No sighting of The Misses yet, but maybe soon.

Once the ba arrives, we are entitled to compensation for the inconvenience and concern. We’ll have to call back to determine exactly what that is since online, and there are conflicting references to such compensation. We’ll see how that rolls out.

As for our visitors, they’ve been returning, one after another, each eliciting an enthusiastic response from us,  with pellets tossed to them with gusto. Not all of our favorites have returned, but both Little and Tiny, our two favorite warthogs, arrived yesterday. It’s lovely to see them again.

Mongoose have visited four times in the past 24 hours. We always enjoy their cute antics.

If a pig can look happy, they both looked delighted to see us. No, it wasn’t a smile on their faces but instead a little kicking up of heels and easily approaching the veranda. Tiny was always shy in coming too close but, Little neer hesitated to get up close and personal. I couldn’t have been more relieved and delighted to see them once again.

They’ve yet to return today, but it’s still early, and we fully anticipate they will return later in the day, often close to 4:00 pm. Ah, the joys of the bush.

This is Little, my boy, and favorite warthog since 2018. The fact that he found us here, a few miles from the Orange house, is a miracle. But,\ pigs are smart.

Of course, I flipped out with joy when Frank came running when we called him to partake of seeds we placed in the usual location on the veranda. Even without his daily diet of seeds suddenly taken away for four weeks, he looked healthy and happy to see us as well. The Misses was nowhere to be found. Perhaps, she’s sitting on some eggs during these cold winter days.

Gosh, it’s good to be back. Our friends are giving us a few days to recover from the long journey, but we’ll see them soon. Tom’s been a little under the weather with a cough since we left the US and these few quiet days are good for him. We still have yet to get onto a good sleep schedule. Last night, I was awake for four hours during the night, feeling groggy when it was time to get up.

Although very pushy and determined to monopolize the pellet show, Bossy is also very pretty and sweet.

Vusi came this morning, cleaned the house and veranda, and delivered the chicken and mince Louise had stored for us in her freezer during the power outage. To be safe, I am baking the chicken in the oven right now, which, when cooled, I’ll shred and freeze for future use in a variety of dishes. Gosh, it’s good to be back. I know I repeated it, but it simply is a pleasure to be back here where we belong.

Thanks to all of our readers for hanging in there with us during our break away. Have a fantastic day!

Photo from one year ago today, July 28, 2020:

Our photo of the Blood Moon from July 27, 2018, was taken from our garden in Marloth Park in 2018 and was posted one year ago today, while in lockdown on day #127, in Mumbai, India. For more photos, please click here.

We made it back to the bush…minus one bag…

Little is back!!! We are excited to see him again! No Tiny yet, but maybe soon.

We are undoubtedly thrilled to be back safely after the long journey, no worse for the wear. The return trip wasn’t easy, especially the long 15-hour flight and the myriad connections. Sleep was elusive on the plane and neither of us slept a wink during the time we spent in the airport hotel in Joburg. At midnight, it was daytime to us and there was no way we could fall asleep. It was a long and fitful night.

In Joburg, our huge new duffel bag was lost and has yet to arrive. We filed a claim but no word yet, three days later. This bag contained all of the new items we purchased in the US. We aren’t hopeful

Tom’s yellow bag was found in Joburg and was delivered last night. At this point, we are out only one of our previous three missing bags. If it isn’t found in the next few days or so we will have to file for reimbursement

But, replacing the items will be time-consuming and require a shipment to South Africa which is always a frustrating scenario. We will figure that out in the next few days, confident that when all is said and done it will be fine. It’s only stuff, after all

Mom and Baby Bushbuck! She must have brought this baby out of hiding while we were in the US.

Regardless of the tiredness and inconveniences, we are thrilled to have had such a great experience in the US and are now thrilled to be back in our slice of Paradise, Marloth Park. As I write this now, situated at the table on the veranda, the power has been out since last night, only hours after we arrived and shortly after we returned home from dinner at Jabula.

Louise had grocery shopped for us, but I didn’t have the energy to prepare a meal, although we’ll do so tonight. Now with no power, and our perishables in Louise”s freezer, we’ve decided to eat eggs and bacon for tonight’s dinner, easily made on the separate burner on the braai. The electric oven won’t do us much good. Hopefully, the power will return by tonight and we will begin to get back in the groove of life in the bush.

Right now. I am preparing this post on my phone using pricey data from Google Fi since, when the power goes off here, we also lose the WiFi signal.

Some of our animals have returned, but few favorites other than eight adorable bushbucks including a few new babies we’ve seen Peter. Paul and Mary, Bossy, and one new warthog we have named. Broken Tusk or BT, not to be confused with wildebeest, Broken Horn who’s yet to return.

Mongoose drinking from the birdbath. Later, we gave them a pan of eggs. It was a thrill to hear their funny chirping.

Little just showed up! Yeah. Maybe Tiny will be here at sundowner time as always! Plus, I called to discover our third missing bag is on its way to us. We’d already received missing bag #1 (while in Minnesota) and mission bag #2 (which was delivered to Louise’s last night) and soon bag #3, the missing duffel bag, with all the new items will arrive. This is the first time in almost nine years of travel that we’ve lost a bag, let alone three!

And, even more, good news…the power just came back on!!! Yes, good news we surely appreciate!

Enjoy our new photos, many more are coming tomorrow of new sightings of old friends.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, July 27, 2020:

From the year-ago post on day #125 while in lockdown in Mumbai, India I wrote, “OK, folks here’s a new one for you. This is a “bask” of crocodiles!” For more photos, please click here.

Making the most of time available for family and friends…Scary news in South Africa…

We couldn’t believe our eyes on this date in 2018 in Kruger National Park when we spotted this elephant digging a hole to access water in the ground below.  For a video and more photos of this sighting, please click here.

Yesterday was a diverse day for me. At 1:00 pm, we arrived at Tom’s sister Patty’s house for eight of us to play dice and later have dinner. We all sat at the table in Patty’s kitchen that was extended with a table leaf. Patty gave each of us a little Tupperware cup for quarters for playing various dice games.

I never seem to win at games of chance but give me a strategy game, and I may have a bit of good luck. At 3:15 pm, Tom and I stopped playing while he drove to drop me off at a local pub and restaurant to meet my dear old friend, former business partner Theresa Steichen, who is still in real estate, successfully so, after almost 30 years.

With Theresa and I both on time for the 3:30 pm get-together for a late lunch or early dinner, we couldn’t have embraced each other with more love, warmth, and enthusiasm. The next few hours sailed by quickly while we engaged in lively and animated conversation, as we always had.

Not only were we great friends, but we respected and admired each other for our innate skills in dealing with clients and other professionals. I had retired and left our business shortly after the market crashed. I’d had enough after decades in the business, and we couldn’t have made the transition more easily from business partners back to friends.

The last time we were here in 2019, Theresa and I got together for lunch with our mutual friend Cathy. What a treat it was to be with her once again. It was difficult to end our time together, and again we hugged when we parted with smiles on our faces, tears in our eyes for a beautiful few hours we spent together. We plan to see each other again each time we return to Minnesota in years to come.

Theresa drove me back to Patty’s house, where the remaining seven were eating dinner and enjoying every moment together. Our time is winding down rapidly now. We leave for Milwaukee in three days and plan to pack in as much family time as possible during the remaining hours.

Elephants were forming a line to stop traffic in Kruger National Park.

The fun dice games continued after their dinner, and after a full day, we headed out around 7:00 pm, after traffic had cleared. We were about 40 minutes away, and avoiding traffic was a priority. When we reached our hotel room, we had settled in for a quiet evening, streaming a few shows and nodding off for another good night’s rest.

Today is daughter-in-law Camille’s birthday, and we’re all meeting for dinner to celebrate at a favorite restaurant from our old lives, Maynard’s in Excelsior on Lake Minnetonka. There will be seven of us for the celebratory dinner including, Tom and I, Greg and Camille, and grandchildren Maisie, Miles, and Madighan.

I can’t believe how quickly time has passed. We leave for Las Vegas in five days and then leave Las Vegas for South Africa in only 11 days. I don’t know if it is due to old age or simply due to the good times we’re having, but the days are flying by quickly.

My dear friend Kathy travels from Sacramento, California, to Johannesburg, South Africa, where husband Don is picking her up in a few days. She’s at the airport now awaiting her first flight for the long journey. There is civil unrest in South Africa, awful enough that President Cyril Ramaphosa has called in the military. The road we travel from Nelspruit to Marloth Park has been closed off and on for days due to riots, carjackings, and murders. It’s the only road providing access to the park.

Of course, all of us will proceed with caution and pay lots of attention to news reports as to the status of the highway. It’s a 90-minute drive on that highway, always packed with police. Now, it may also be packed with the military. Then again, only 20 minutes from where we are in Minnesota is equally dangerous. Nowhere in the world is entirely free of risk. We stay informed and proceed accordingly. We’d be waiting to hear from Kathy if she and Don could get through on Thursday.

If the road is closed in Nelspruit, we’d have no choice but to hunker down there for a few days until it is safe again to travel. We always have to consider backup plans.

Have a pleasant day!

Photo from one year ago today, July 13, 2020:

We found these shells on a beach in Australia. The next day, we returned all the shells to the beach where we found them. For more photos, please click here.

Day #1…We’re on the move…USA, here we come!…

Mom and baby. We’ll miss you all.

No doubt it’s a long journey to the US. Soon, we’ll make the 90-minute drive to the airport in Nelspruit (MQP), over the treacherous N4, the highway I’m not particularly eager to travel. Unfortunately, there’s been a lot of traffic and road construction, so we’re leaving hours earlier than usual, figuring we could easily be delayed.

Most likely we’ll arrive at the airport two to three hours earlier than our flight if traffic isn’t as bad as expected. Unfortunately, due to the Level 4 lockdown a few days ago, the restaurant in the airport will be closed, and we’ll have to wait on benches in the corridor of the small airport. There are no “gates,” so to speak, at this airport, so we’ll have to hover while waiting for our 1:50 pm, 1350 hrs, flight to Joburg.

Once we arrive in Joburg, we’ll stay overnight in a hotel since our flight to Germany isn’t until the following day. From Joburg, we’ll have over 32 hours of travel time, including layovers. Then, we’ll repeat a similar journey on our return flight four weeks later.

The excitement of seeing everyone is tempered by the long travel time. Once we’ve had our Covid-19 vaccines at the airport in Minneapolis, picked up our luggage, the rental car, and arrived at our hotel, we’ll feel more relaxed and able to enjoy seeing our family and friends over the 16 days. I’m sure a good night’s sleep will be our first concern, especially since we’re arriving in the evening.

Over the years, we’ve experienced several long hauls such as this. In each case, the exhaustion was palpable, but a good sleep usually set us right the next day. Hopefully, it won’t be any different this time. The time difference is only seven hours between South Africa and Minnesota. This small difference doesn’t usually result in any jet lag for either of us.

Our Covid-19 tests arrived in my inbox this morning with both negative as expected. We’ll stop at Louise’s Info Center to pick up our copies on our way to the airport. We have all other documents in order as required by the airlines. No special consideration is required for US citizens returning to the US from South Africa other than a recent (72) negative Covid-19 test.

Of course, we’ll consider our potential exposure when visiting family and friends based on the fact we’ll only have had the one-dose J & J vaccine on July 1st. We will always proceed with caution.

Thank you to so many who’ve written, wishing us a safe journey. We plan to post again tomorrow from Joburg since our first flight doesn’t depart until 5:00 pm, 1700 hrs. So we’ll have plenty of time.

Little and Tiny are both here now. I hope this isn’t our last goodbye. The warthog culling takes place in mid-July when 500 will be taken out.

Be well. Be safe, and we’ll be back soon.

One day and counting…New lockdown in South Africa…Our 30 year anniversary of the day we met…

This young male kudu stopped by a few times yesterday and was foaming at the mouth. His mom may have been lost to the kudu culling. We called the rangers, and Juan and Mark came out to look for him. But, by the time they got here, only minutes later, he was gone. They explained he might have choked on something which could cause the foaming. In the evening, he returned and was so longer foaming at the mouth. We fed him plenty of pellets which he seemed to enjoy. He was back again this morning, looking better.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 10 warthogs – inc. Little, Tiny, Lonely Girl, Fred, and Ethel, and more
  • 8 bushbucks – inc. Chewy, Thick Neck, Torn EarSpikey, Stringy, Young Ms. Bushbuck, and others
  • 6 kudu – inc. Big Daddy, Bossy, and kids
  • 1 wildebeest – inc. Broken Horn
  • 17 helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 2 Frank and The Misses
  • 21 mongoose

Last night President Cyril Ramphosa conducted one his his “Family Meetings” to update the citizens of South Africa of new Covid-19 restrictions as stated in this article:

“JOHANNESBURG, June 27 (Reuters) – South Africa will tighten COVID-19 restrictions for 14 days as current containment measures are insufficient to cope with the speed and scale of new infections, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday.

The country, the worst hit on the African continent in terms of recorded cases and deaths, is in the grip of a “third wave” of infections. It recorded almost 18,000 new cases on Saturday, approaching the peak of daily infections seen in a second wave in January, and local scientists say the Delta coronavirus variant first identified in India seems to be spreading fast. read more

“Additional restrictions are necessary… Our focus is on limiting social contacts while preserving the economy,” Ramaphosa said in a televised address to the nation. Under the measures announced, all gatherings will be prohibited, there will be a curfew from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m., and the sale of alcohol will be banned.

A Big Daddy with a massive rack of twisty horns.

Schools will start closing on Wednesday, but beaches and parks will remain open. Restaurants will only be able to sell food for takeaway or delivery. “We will assess the impact of these interventions after 14 days to determine whether they need to be maintained or adjusted,” Ramaphosa said.

South Africa recently received 1.4 million doses of the Pfizer(PFE.N) vaccine via the COVAX Facility and an additional 1.2 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) vaccine, the president added. So far, the vaccine rollout in South Africa has been slow, with only around 2.7 million doses administered among a total population of 60 million. Faced with opposition protests, the government has set a target of more than doubling the rate of daily vaccinations over the next month.”

In summation, alcohol sales are banned, restaurants may only offer take-away, and schools will be closed. As a result, reservations made by holidaymakers throughout the country, including Marloth Park, are rapidly being canceled. Who will want to visit a location for a day, a weekend, or an extended period if the restaurants can’t serve food and guests can’t purchase alcohol for their consumption?

Bossy is back to stopping by several times a day.

In reality, I suppose this is a good time for us to be leaving since it would have been illegal for us to meet up with our friends for sundowners at private homes, visits to the Crocodile River, dining out, and gatherings of any type with people outside one’s household.

Hopefully, by the time we return at the end of July, the number of cases will have dropped, and the Level 4 lockdown measures will have ended. But one never knows. With this new variant, entitled Delta, who knows what will transpire in weeks to come?

Our packing is almost complete. I made a convenient packing list on my phone on the excellent app called “Keep,” and go through it from time to time to ensure we haven’t forgotten anything. But, of course, we’ll be in the US, and if we did forget something, we could easily purchase it there.

Big Daddy, interacting with females.

Today is the 30th anniversary of the day we met in 1991. Usually, we celebrate this particular date with a special evening out. But that won’t be happening today. So instead, we’ll cook burgers on the braai, topped with cheese and streaky bacon, along with rice for Tom and a fried egg to top my burger.

We’ll spend our last evening on the veranda, most likely with Little and Tiny in attendance, hoping they will still be here after the upcoming warthog culling coming soon. Apparently, there are about 2000 warthogs in Marloth Park, 500 of which will be culled. So that leaves our “boys” a 75% chance of still being here when we return.

Hopefully, no new lockdown measures will impede our return in approximately four weeks. Then, we’ll be flying out of Las Vegas, Nevada. We can only wait and see.

Thick Neck never fails to stop by.

This morning we headed to Komatipoort to get our Covid-19 PCR tests. The results will arrive by email tomorrow at 8:00 am. Louise will print them for us, and we’ll pick them up at her office on our way to the airport. Everything is ready for our departure.

That’s it for today, dear readers. When we arrive in Johannesburg tomorrow afternoon, we’ll upload another post once we’re situated at our hotel. Of course, if I have everything done in the morning, I may do the post before we depart Marloth Park.

Have a pleasant Monday, and please be healthy.

Photo from one year ago today, June 28, 2020:

Protective gear from one year ago today; face masks, N99 masks, goggles, face shields, and hand sanitizers. Gloves have yet to arrive. (Sorry, this is a video. I hit the wrong button, but I’d already repacked everything, so a retake was too much trouble). For more photos, please click here.

“Movie in the Bush”…We booked appointments for J & J vaccines in Minneapolis!…Two days and counting…

Rita, Gerhard, and Tom situated in our chairs, ready for the evening to commence.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 10 warthogs – inc. Little, Tiny, Lonely Girl, Fred, and Ethel, and more
  • 9 bushbucks – inc. Chewy, Thick Neck, Torn EarSpikey, Stringy, Young Ms. Bushbuck, and others
  • 6 kudu – inc. Big Daddy, Bossy, and kids
  • 1 wildebeest – inc. Broken Horn
  • 29 helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 2 hornbills –
  • 2 Frank and The Misses
  • 21 mongoose

Yesterday afternoon, after hours of searching online for possible J & J vaccine appointments in Minnesota, hopefully within one day of our arrival, frustration set in. There were plenty of two-dose vaccine appointments available, but nothing definitive for the J & J, one dose.

I took this photo before the arrival of many of the movie-goers.

We’ll be in the US long enough to get the two-dose vaccine, if necessary. But, doing so will prevent us from visiting Tom’s sister, who’s in a nursing home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The facility won’t allow any visitors until 14 days have passed since their second dose. This wouldn’t work for us.

When the frustration set in after a few hours of research, I tried different keywords and, by a fluke, stumbled across the J & J vaccine being offered to travelers with a boarding pass, arriving or departing from MSP (Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport). I couldn’t book our appointments quickly enough. At 5:45 pm, 1745 hrs,  on July 1st, we are scheduled to get our vaccines at the airport before taking off in our rental car to our hotel. What a relief!

Thanks to many of our readers who wrote to us with suggestions, some knew about the airport vaccination program. Your assistance is much appreciated!

When we first arrived at Lisa’s property, at least six ostriches occupied the spaces where we’d set up our chairs.

For the third time, since we’ve been coming to Marloth Park in 2013, last night’s Movie Night in the Bush was another delightful experience. Lisa, who hosted the event with proceeds going to wildlife rescue, had a fantastic spread of food for the participants.

There were approximately 45 guests who each paid a paltry ZAR 120, US $8.48 for a dinner of pulled pork and pulled chicken with buns, coleslaw, and sliced pickles. Lisa, whom we know well,  was so thoughtful of me when she put aside a huge bowl of roasted pork for me without the sugary barbecue sauce. How thoughtful was that!  The meat was delicious.

Tom, Rita, and Gerhard enjoyed the full meal as we all dined in our portable chairs a short distance from the movie screen, as shown in the photo below. We didn’t know many people in attendance but were happy to see those we’d met in the past.

Movie screen in the bush. What a fun event!

The movie, The Ghost in the Darkness was a historical piece that elicited several good and bad reviews. Instead of sitting there critiquing the movie, the four of us decided to have fun and enjoy it regardless of its reputation. After all, it was an Africa movie filmed here in South Africa, and it was fun to be watching it in the bush, with wild animals surrounding us and content movie-goers in the audience.

It was a cool night, and fortunately, we’d all brought along ample clothing to keep us warm. At one point, I was shivering a little even while bundled up in my airline blanket. It was warm during the day, and as typical in Africa, it cools down quite a bit in the evenings.

When we arrived, before darkness fell, the four of us got a kick out of the ostriches that surrounded us, appearing to want to get in on the action. They had to be shooed off to get out of our faces. Perhaps, they viewed all of us as potential sources of good “people food,” which, like other wild animals, is not good for them.

Finally, some of the ostriches were shooed away, but a few determined birds stayed behind.

By 8:00 pm, 2000 hours, the movie ended, and we said our goodbyes, including to Rita and Gerhard, who are embarking on a trip to the outskirts of Johannesburg for a course on off-roading with their new vehicle. We won’t see them again until we hopefully can return, as planned, at the end of July.

Tonight, at 8:00 pm, President Cyril Ramphosa will be speaking during what is referred to as a “Family Meeting” to address the nation regarding further lockdowns due to the massive increase in cases of Covid-19, especially in the Gauteng Province where Johannesburg is located. We are located in Mpumalanga Province. But, we will be in Joburg, staying overnight on June 30th.

Sunset in the bush on “Movie Night.”

Our primary concern is, “Will we be able to return to South Africa at the end of July?” For our friends, Louise and Danie, managing so many properties, and Dawn and Leon, as owners of Jabula Lodge and Restaurant, this speech could negatively impact their businesses if the new lockdown measures prevent travel to Marloth Park. They have already struggled so much in the past 18 months.

Now, as we wind down our time in Marloth Park, we are preoccupied with the necessary paperwork required due to Covid-19 for traveling. We have a health questionnaire to complete, and we’ll be good to go.

A photo I took of the movie in the first few minutes.

That’s it for today, folks. We will continue to post during our travel period, providing adequate WiFi services are available along the way.

Take care, everyone!

Photo from one year ago today, June 27, 2020:

It was business as usual, with Tom wearing a sarong as the required dress to enter the temple. He had a hard time managing the steps. He didn’t have the same experience as women who’ve worn long dresses, knowing when to hold up the hem for ease in walking. For more photos, please click here.

Bossy was spared!!!…Tom and Gerhard’s Marloth expedition…Three days and counting…

Although blurry and without showing his head, Tom captured this photo of a crocodile on the river.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 18 warthogs – inc. Little, Tiny, Lonely Girl, Fred, and Ethel, Peter, Paul and Mary, Benny, Henny, Lenny and Penny, Mom and Babies, and more
  • 12 bushbucks – inc. Chewy, Thick Neck, Torn Ear, Spikey, Stringy, Young Ms. Bushbuck, and others
  • 6 kudu – Bossy and family are back!!!
  • 1 wildebeest – inc. Broken Horn
  • 31  helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 2 hornbills –
  • 2 Frank and The Misses

After Tom dropped me off and Gerhard dropped Rita off at the local spa for our pedicures, the two guys took off in their new bakkie (truck) to explore Marloth Park. We knew it would take at least two hours for our pedicures to begin at 1100 am, giving the guys plenty of time to venture out on the bumpy dirt roads.

A crocodile is lounging on the bank of the river.

I was happy for Tom to be able to have some “guy time” while Rita and I certainly enjoyed our “girl time,” a rarity in our lives of world travel. Tom rarely has time away from me, and I was thrilled he was to have a few hours on his own. Neither of us longs to have time apart or even “alone time,” as many seem to cherish. We’ve always adapted well when in one another’s presence day and night.

After our fabulous pedicures, Rita and I took off in our rental car, which she drove toward our house, where we were to wait for the guys. But, as it turned out, they encountered us only a few blocks from the spa when they’d come to collect their respective wives. Rita jumped out of the car to join Gerhard, and Tom jumped in, and we were on our way back to our holiday bush home.

Tom enthusiastically shared the stories of his and Gerhard’s adventures in the park while I perused the photos he’d taken. No, Tom’s not the best photographer, especially using our less-than-ideal camera. But, he got enough photos for us to share here today, albeit blurry. I was content.

The area where Gerhard and Tom spotted while walking in Marloth Park.

Once back home, we got back to work on the final touches of our upcoming travel to the US, which begins in a mere three days. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely President Cyril Ramaphosa will extend foreign national visas again before we depart, and we’re committed to continuing on our way to the US.

In the afternoon, I had a good opportunity to continue working on the corrections I have almost every day over the past few months. I’d intended to get further ahead by now to avoid doing them while in the US. But, I decided when and if I have downtime, I’ll attempt to tackle them again.

Much to my delight, mid-afternoon, Bossy made an appearance with some of her family members. I couldn’t have been more thrilled to see her. Somehow, she avoided the helicopter round-up but most likely was terrified and stayed undercover for a few days.

The crocodile returned to the water with plenty of fish for him to devour.

Today, I will be spending the afternoon trying to find where we can get the J & J vaccine in the Minneapolis area. If any of our readers know of such a location, please contact us by email. In reviewing numerous “vaccine finders,” I am not having much luck. If we get the one-shot J & J vaccine, we’ll be able to visit Tom’s sister Beth in Milwaukee a few days before we leave, which will be two weeks later. If not, we won’t be able to see her.

Last night, once again, we headed to Jabula Lodge and Restaurant for dinner with Rita and Gerhard, our usual Friday night out. As always, the food, ambiance, and service were exceptional. Now, I only order the lamb shank and three butter-fried eggs. Invariably, Tom always orders ribs, chips (fries), and bread. It’s always predictably good food.

The croc was working his way back onto the bank of the river.

Back at home early, we streamed a few shows, but I nodded off during the second. For some odd reason, I was exhausted, and by 10:00 pm, 2200 hrs, I was asleep, ending up with a total of eight hours for the first time in weeks.

This morning on the veranda, our usual visitors were here, and we enjoyed every moment. News has been posted on Facebook that the warthog culling will begin in July. Only time will tell. I can only hope and pray that our favorite warthogs will be back to see us when we return at the end of July.

A massive bird’s nest in a tree near the river.

Tonight we’ll be attending “Movie Night in the Bush,” a fun experience we’ve participated in a few times in the past. This is a fund-raiser for Wild and Free wildlife rescue, and we hope to see a good turnout.

Have a fantastic day!

Photo from one year ago today, June 26, 2020:

Tom, at the park by the river in Bagni de Lucca, Tuscany, Italy in 2013..One of our readers commented that his white tennis shoes are a dead ringer for a tourist. Apparently, Europeans wear darker-colored shoes. But, we’re not ashamed to be tourists, spending money and savoring every moment in the current country in our journey. For more photos, please click here.