Busy weekend plans in the bush…

Ms. Mongoose is expecting. Note her wide girth.

It’s another late start to the day. It’s almost 1:00 pm, and we’ve been busy this morning, leaving little time to post. Now that we have power, once again, and I am feeling better, I’ve been able to resume working out on the borrowed/rented treadmill. It feels good to be working out.

Another post from pregnant mama mongoose. She proved to be fast on her feet when we offered her a few whole eggs. She had no trouble ensuring no one else would grab them.

Each hour, I set my phone’s timer to remind me that it’s time to go into the second bedroom, turn on the AC five minutes in advance and get back to work. It’s comparable to the walking I did in Mumbai during those ten long months, striving for 10,000 steps, 5 miles, 8 km, per day.

Tiny never fails to stop for a visit, pellets, and a rest.

Unfortunately, my Fitbit doesn’t read how many steps I have been doing on the machine since I don’t swing my arms. I keep my hands on the rails to record my heart rate to ensure it doesn’t go too high. The reading seems fairly accurate when I compare it to the reading on the Fitbit.

We call this male bushbuck Torn Ear. His left ear had an injury, leaving a flap of hair and skin. He often visits several times a day.

Another reason to keep my arms on the rails is for safety. Since the two operations on my legs 22 months ago, I am not as steady on my feet as I used to be. It’s for that reason we don’t walk on the dirt roads in Marloth Park. They are uneven, rocky, and riddled with potholes that could easily result in a fall.

Mongoose is attempting to drink from the swimming pool. There’s a pond in our garden that most animals use for drinking. But, some insist on drinking the chlorinated pool water. After a few gulps, they realize it’s not an ideal water source.

Then, this morning we headed out to the little market in Marloth Park for a few items for tomorrow night’s dinner when Linda and Ken will be joining us. Before we made our way to the market, we drove around the park, searching for wildlife sightings. We were able to spot only a few and jumped at the opportunity for a few new photos.

A dung beetle with his ball of dung, rolling it across the garden.

A short time later, gingerly, I made my way around the crowded little market, trying desperately to avoid getting too close to other shoppers. They didn’t have a few items on my list, so I had to do what they had on hand. One of the items I was looking for was toothpicks for the few bite-sized starters I’m serving with our sundowners.

Appetizers, called “starters” here in South Africa, are traditionally served with cocktails before dinner to avoid drinking alcohol on an empty stomach. I suppose this is the reason. This is also a common practice in the US. Tom and I, when it’s just the two of us, never have starters, fearful we’d get “full” even before the main meal is served.

One Wart has become a regular visitor, although he and Tiny don’t necessarily get along.

But, over the years, we’ve made an effort to repeat this tradition with our dinner or sundowners/happy hour guests. Also, for just the two of us, we didn’t/dodon’t need to consume any more food than what we had on the night’s menu, which would ultimately result in added weight we always struggled to avoid.

This morning, Tom weighed the same as he had when we were in Belize in early 2013. We’ve both been striving to take extra care of ourselves and to drop some unnecessary poundage. It’s been going well. I’d still like to level 2 or 3 more kg, five to six pounds, and this last bit is going very slowly. The number on the scale won’t budge for me, but my clothes fit, so I’m not complaining.

A yet-to-be-named female we’ve only seen a few times.

Tonight, the two of us are returning to Jabula Lodge and Restaurant for another dinner after last Saturday night’s birthday dinner. When we saw how careful they are regarding Covid-19, we felt comfortable returning so soon. We’ll sit outdoors on the main veranda and avoid spending any time sitting at our favorite spot, the bar.

Those days of gabbing while standing or sitting at a bar may be long gone, not only for us but for others all over the world, at their favorite pubs and dining establishments. We’ve always found bars a great place to commiserate with the locals in any giver town or city. It’s no different here in Marloth Park. Sadly Covid-19 has changed many forms of entertainment for all of us.

That’s it for today, folks. We’ll be back with more tomorrow. Stay safe.

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

This baby elephant was being prepped for humans to ride him in search of tigers. Riding an elephant is a custom in India, but as most of our readers know, we wouldn’t ride one, nor do we approve of elephants in captivity (or other animals, for that matter). For more, please click here.

Raining in buckets…Power outage…Thank goodness for the inverter…

Peeking up over the step, looking at us, “Got any meat for us?” Sure, we did! Thank goodness, Louise and Danie made certain we had an inverter in this house, Love Bird’s Nest. How thoughtful they are! An inverter uses power to recharge batteries inside the unit, which can be kept indoors, to be used later when the power goes out for small voltage requirements, such as powering a router and recharging digital equipment.

It could be used for some lights but can’t power the air-con, the refrigerator, and power-hogging appliances such as tea kettles, toasters, and microwaves. We keep the usage only for our phones, laptops, and the router to ensure we have WiFi, which, right now, we do. It’s been a massive benefit during all of the power outages.

Cute little mongoose resting his chin on a rock.

At some point, if the power doesn’t come back on, the batteries in the inverter will lose their power. We’ll see how that goes. Hopefully, sometime today, the cause of the outage will be repaired.

With the rains resulting from Cyclone Eloise, the ground is still soaked, and flooding is happening all around us. Even the Crocodile Bridge Gate and others, as access to Kruger National Park, are flooded, preventing visitors from many areas entering the park. I can only imagine the frustration of tourists who planned a one or two-week holiday in this area who can now not visit Kruger National Park unless they drive long distances to other open gates.

Mongooses are affectionate and nurturing to one another.

Also, we’ve found that wildlife tends to go for cover during rainstorms as powerful as this when they become frightened by the sounds. Thus, those tourists currently staying in Marloth Park won’t be seeing much wildlife in their gardens when, for example, so far this morning, we’ve only seen Franks, hornbills, and helmeted guinea-fowl. We tossed seeds for all of them when they looked at us with those longing eyes. Of course, we comply, even on sunny days.

Flooding will escalate over the next several days as the rains continue through Monday, Tuesday, and longer. In viewing the weather reports, it appears it will rain almost every day over the next two weeks, all the way through February 14.

I gave them a little container with the remainder of my chicken livers. As carnivores, they sure loved that.

We’re certainly happy that we’re staying here for quite a long while. Otherwise, this amount of rain would be frustrating. However, it’s vital for the growth of the vegetation critical to the wildlife in the bush, which is their primary source of food, except for carnivores such as mongoose, lizards, snakes, and others.

This morning Louise and Danie stopped by with a cooler, called a “chill box,” here in South Africa. Our social life is beginning to take shape with upcoming visits to friends in the bush. We’ll bring our beverages, in this case, Crystal Light Iced Tea, since alcohol is still banned in South Africa.

A tiny baby mongoose with mom or dad on the pool steps.

Hopefully, the ban will be lifted by mid-February, and I can purchase my favorite South Africa wine, Four Cousins, Skinny  Red. It’s a delicious low-alcohol wine, 9% instead of 13%, which had been my go-to wine when we were here in 2018-2019. At times, my mouth waters when I think of this delightful wine.

It’s ironic. We couldn’t drink alcohol in India during those 10-months in isolation due to many months-long bans and then outrageous prices with taxes at 38%. It just wasn’t worth it to us at the time, especially when neither of us had ever enjoyed drinks in a hotel room or even a cruise cabin. It’s all about socialization for us.

Of course, if it’s just the two of us on the veranda at “happy hour,” we find each other’s companionship a delightful form of socialization and may imbibe when the time is right. We look forward to that down the road.

A moment ago, the power came back on! We’re thrilled!. We’ll be back with more tomorrow! As soon as I upload today’s post, we’re heading out for a drive to check out the area’s flooding and take some photos.

Stay well.

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

The view from our hotel room in Mumbai,  overlooking the Arabian Sea, shortly after we arrived in India from the US on a 33-hour journey. For more details, please click here.

A repost from five years ago that still reflects our views…

Our new friend, “One-Wart,” is missing a full-sized wart on the right side of his face. Most likely, he was “born this way.,” possibly due to inbreeding. We have no doubt he’ll be a regular.

While I’ve continued to edit past posts due to errors I’ve made over the years, along with other errors as a result of WiFi issues at the time, I stumbled across a post from November 13, 2015, that over five years later, still resonates who we are and what we believe. I hesitated to repost the text, of course, using some new photos from Marloth Park.

Why the hesitation? To avoid redundancy. After all, during the past ten months in lockdown in India, there certainly was plenty of redundancy with dull stories and repeated photos from years past when no new photos were being taken. Thus, if you recall this post, feel free to pass by the text and enjoy the new photos taken in the past 24 hours.

Impalas rarely come to the garden since they are timid around humans. This fellow stops by almost daily.

If, years ago, someone would have told me I had to write a new story 365 days a year for over eight years, relevant to the current times, I’d have laughed and said it was impossible. I’d never be motivated to perform such a task. And yet, here we are, plugging away with the same enthusiasm in preparing our first post published on March 15, 2012. See that post here. It didn’t include a single photo, but over the years, that first post has been one of our favorites, so well describing who we are and what we hoped to achieve in our worldwide travels.

But, this post, which I stumbled upon yesterday afternoon while working on the prior post’s edits, also caught my eye, and I decided to share it again with you today. Our long-time readers may recall this post, or they may not. Our newer readers may never have come across it as they occasionally reviewed the archives, if at all.

This is Dad & Son, who stop by daily to see what’s on the menu.

In essence, this old post is no big deal, but it reflects who we were then and who we are now, which only you, as readers, may decide if we have changed our views over the years. To see the photos from that date, please click here. Please sit back, relax and read this revealing personal exposé we took seriously at the time and do so again now.  Here we go:

“A grain of sand on the beach of life…Who are we?…

Nothing in life is static. No state of being is guaranteed. All we know for certain is tomorrow, a new day will dawn, and tonight a sun will set. Even that eventuality is in question by scientific predictions in the millennium to come or sooner.

When we hear of new planets emerging within our range of perspective at the edges of our universe, our Earth becomes minor and insignificant in the vast expanse of “forever,” a place none of us in this lifetime will ever know.

How do we grasp a news report such as this:

“A rocky Earth-sized planet that circles a small, nearby star could be the most important world ever found beyond the solar system, astronomers say. The planet lies in the constellation of Vela in the southern sky and is close enough for telescopes to observe any atmosphere. It has a procedure that could help spot life on other planets in the future. Named GJ 1132b, the alien world is about 16% larger than Earth, and at 39 light-years distant, is three times closer than any other Earth-sized rocky planet yet found around another star. At that distance, it is hoped that telescopes will be able to make out the chemistry of its atmosphere, the speed of its winds, and the colors of its sunsets.”

Six warthogs, a kudu, and Frank came by, gathering around the braai.

As we simpletons scour the world, the Earth, enraptured by its endless wonders along the way, we are in awe of Earth’s natural evolution, leaving some of the most exquisite scenery in its wake. Imagine the millions of years that no humans were on this Earth even to know it was there.

With predictions that human life as we know it, from a scientific perspective, has populated the Earth for a mere 200,000 years is a “drop in the bucket” in time, a single grain of sand on a beach.

As the Earth has further populated, each one of us has become a grain of sand on another beach of impossible calculations. How many are there now? How many have there been, and how many are there yet to come?

A male bushbuck and a male impala. This species often graze together without incident.

And, within our limited field of vision, we deem ourselves significant and meaningful. Collectively, we matter. Individually, we must seek the power of the masses to hope for change and progression.

It’s easy to hide away in our self-imposed universe, in our geographic sphere, reaching out only to that which is readily available within our grasp. Is it human nature that we tend to cocoon in a limited space and time?

Oh, as I ponder these thoughts, as I write a meaningless timeline of a day in the village as in yesterday’s post, I’m reminded of how tiny our world becomes coupled with our ambitious desire to see as much as the world as we can as the clock ticks loudly and annoyingly. How much time do we have to complete this journey?  And what, within this realm, are we really doing?

After finishing the raw scramble eggs Tom placed in this pan, these two were determined to lap up every last drop.

I don’t know the answer to either of these questions, which in itself is a further reminder of how little power we each have in this world. The mystery.  Is it wrought from a sense of spirituality or simply hard facts? It remains to be seen in this lifetime.

As we continue to explore the significance of every creature on Earth and its interrelated purpose, it’s easy to assume we humans are at the head of the food chain, and yet, life emerged long before we were here.

The cycle of life and the food chain is magical. Every creature’s design is magic, and none of this could happen from an explosion of planets, remnants evolving into worlds, remnants growing into the Earth.

Ms. Tortoise made a brief appearance, moving quickly through the bush.

A power, a spirituality beyond our comprehension, created this magical life on this planet. As we travel, we witness the vast array in which each population has formed their perception of “who” and “what” this may be. They call it religion, faith, and spirituality in a manner they can most easily grasp and incorporate into their beings.

We don’t choose to see ourselves as self-serving individuals lost in a sea of “vacation,” “holiday,” and travel options. We see ourselves, all of us, you and us, as on a long journey of personal discovery in pursuit of the answers to our own relevant questions, whether we travel the world or sit back in an armchair, hoping to find answers, if not in this lifetime but perhaps in the next.”

She cracked open the egg by pounding it on the cement, sucking out the contents. Animals using tools, fascinating!

This morning upon arising, no less than ten helmeted guinea-fowl were on the veranda hoping for seeds. Once they left, francolins, Frank, and The Misses were looking in the glass of the veranda’s sliding door, wondering when we’d be coming out to toss some bird seeds. It took us no time at all.

Life is good. We have WiFi, power, and the high today will only be 92F, 33C, as we wait in anticipation of who may come to call in the next 12 hours, as we embrace our surroundings in the bush.

Be well.

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

Five years ago in 2016, we spent three months in New Plymouth, New Zealand, living on an alpaca farm. In the early evening, a group of the babies got together to play, running through the paddock, making us laugh over their playful antics. For the year-ago post, please click here.

Cute little visitors, relentless in their pursuit…Wildlife friends on the road…Sounds of nature…

Cute banded mongoose using a tree stump to pose for a photo.

Finally, this afternoon I will get to work on compiling our final expenses from our 10-month hotel stay in Mumbai, India. I don’t know why I’ve been putting this off. The only reason I can think of is how preoccupied and happy I am taking photos in our garden which backs up to Lionspruit, a game reserve within a  game reserve/conservancy here in Marloth Park where the two lions Dezi and Fluffy, live along with other wildlife, some of which prove to be a food source for them.

Another great pose on a rock. Mongooses are very clever. They know how to appear adorable in order to beg for eggs.

Lionspruit is described as follows from this site:

“Lionspruit Game Reserve is a 1500ha (hectare) nature reserve, a home to the big five which offers a true bushveld experience to the guests and residents of Marloth Park. Marloth Park is a wildlife conservation area, bordering Kruger National Park. The main species of game within Lionspruit Game Reserve are white rhino, Impala, Kudu, Zebra, and other small antelope, various mammals, reptiles and birdlife but Buffalo, Rhino and Lion are confined within the Lionspruit Game Reserve while the other wildlife can roam freely between Marloth Park and Lionspruit Game Reserve.

Currently, the reserve accommodates only day visitors. Various rangers patrol the reserve to monitor the animals and guard the animals against poachers as well as to monitor vegetation. Picnic spots are available for all visitors, but they need to be alert because lions roam around the area.”

Coincidences...Hilarious video interaction...Harrowing visit to Lionspruit game reserve...Busy weekend ahead... - WorldWideWaftage
Map of Lionspruit located within the borders of Marloth Park.

Surely, one night soon, as we sit on the veranda we’ll hear their roars when they make their way close to the fence that separates our piece of heaven from theirs. We hope to make a recording of those amazing sounds.

If that doesn’t work, let’s enhance the pose. “Banded Mongoose (Mungos mungo) males are only heavier than females during the immature stages. In adulthood,  both sexes are similar in size and mass, weighing about 1.5 kg. This Mongoose is characterized by triangular-shaped, pointed faces and flat broad ears. They have long bushy tails and a long, coarse coat. Coloration is grayish-brown with an unmistakable series of light and dark vertical bands across the back and flanks. Underparts are lighter with elegant dark legs.”

The mongooses in today’s photos, make a chirping little sound, especially when they are anxious for some eggs. The sound of the endless stream of birds in the bush is heard throughout the day, particularly, the sound of the African Morning Dove, whose relentless trill permeates the air day and night.

Tom delivered them a pan of raw scrambled eggs. They piled atop one another to partake in the treat. “Invertebrates constitute the major portion of the diet, particularly beetles and termites. Will occasionally also take larger prey such as rodents and snakes. Refuge dumps are often scavenged for edible tidbits. Banded Mongooses also feed on the eggs of ground-nesting birds and reptiles. They clasp the eggs with their front paws and throw them behind them to try and break them.”

During our past visits to Marloth Park, we had several resident Francolins. Now, we have a mating pair, their two growing chicks, and two other mating pairs. Often during the day and at dusk and every night without fail, they all begin their crazy loud song/chirping, unlike anything we’ve ever heard in our old lives. I’m sure one night soon, we’ll make a sound clip/video of those sounds, the nightly reminder that darkness is about to fall.

“The Banded Mongoose litters average 2.6 young per female. Within a pack, litters are produced in synchrony after a gestation period of eight to nine weeks. Collective nursing of offspring takes place. Breeding is normally restricted to the rainy season, and during her lifetime, a female averages 1.4 litters per year. 2 – 8 young are born in mid-summer and are blind and partly-haired. The eyes open after about 10 days.”

It’s so easy to sit here all day, getting up four times a day to walk on the treadmill, prepare a meal, do an occasional load of laundry or deal with recharging our digital equipment. Zef and Vusi washed, dried, and folded all of the musty clothes we had in our luggage for months.

Now,  with everything neatly folded and hung up in our respective closet areas in the master bedroom, we’re in great shape. I am using the chest of drawers in the second bedroom with an en suite bathroom which I use for showering and dressing. We sleep in the master bedroom, but having a separate bathroom for each of us is a treat.

Mongooses are known to attack and kill snakes. “The mongoose is known for its ability to fight and kill venomous snakes, especially cobras. Their specialized acetylcholine receptors render them immune to venom.”

Finally, we have two showers with floors that aren’t dangerously slippery, making showering all the more pleasant each day. Typical for the bush, the shower water pressure is low, but we manage just fine. The hot water is ultra-hot, so we are careful, but especially appreciate it for washing dishes, although we have a dishwasher we also use.

Yes, load shedding is a pain, especially when there’s no power or WiFi. Yes, the heat and humidity are outrageous and uncomfortable most days. Yes, the necessity to constantly keep an eye out for snakes or venomous insects is challenging. Yes, applying and reapplying DEET-laden repellent several times a day is an annoying must-do. (We opted not to take malaria prophylactics for such an extended period).

When we ventured out for a drive, we spotted zebras on the only paved road in Marloth Park, Olifant Rd.

And yes, not knowing when and if the Covid-19 vaccine will be available in South Africa is a huge source of concern, wondering when and if we can relax a little and not worry about it. All of these concerns are a part of living in this country, living in Africa, living in the bush. But, amid all of this, we are content, fascinated, and in awe of our surroundings, It will be grand when and if we all can socialize and be more at ease with others.

Zebra traffic jam…

In the interim, we all must continue to be diligent, to be careful, and maintain hope for our future. Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 21, 2020:

Staci and I by the entrance to the Red, White & Brew restaurant. The wine and food were excellent and the companionship was spectacular. Hopefully, we’ll meet up somewhere in the future. For more from that post, please click here.

Mongoose mania…Funny little characters…

Three mongooses were checking out the veranda and what treats we may be offering. As carnivores, they particularly enjoyed some rare leftover steak we cut into tiny pieces.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

“Don’t get too close to my baby.”

This is the first holiday in the past 13 months when we’ve continued to see lots of wildlife when the park is filled with tourists, often offering them food they like but shouldn’t eat.

When they are fed leftover human food, sweets, chips, and marshmallows, they tend to hang around those properties and stay far away from us. Alas, it’s been different this time. They keep coming and coming.

The bush is lush with greenery and vegetation, although, due to the late rainy season, without some of the important grasses, the wildlife need for nourishment. As a result, they may still be looking for pellets at the houses of those who freely offer them regularly.
“Umm…smells good here.”

Of course, it’s a concern to us when we leave Marloth Park in a little over six weeks. They’ll come here repeatedly looking for us and the nutritious treats we regularly offer; pellets, apples, carrots, and other appropriate fruits and vegetables they can easily digest.

It breaks my heart to think of how often, after we’ve left,  Little will climb the steps to the veranda, wondering where I am and why I don’t come outside to greet him.  

We don’t sit on the veranda as much as we used to since I need to keep my still painful legs up.  But from my vantage point from the sofa, I can see what’s going on in the garden, and I get up dozens of times a day to see who’s here. Getting up and down is good to avoid sitting too long in one position.

More and more mongooses climbed the steps to the veranda.

We’ll still dine on the veranda each evening with the yellow container of pellets ready to be tossed to whoever stops by while we eat.  We no longer do 1700 hours, 5:00 pm, “happy hour” since I’m not drinking wine anymore. And Tom doesn’t drink by himself.  

Watching the wildlife while we dine has continued to be a highlight of our day. There are often four or five species in the garden simultaneously, all clamoring from the pellets or whatever treats we may have to offer.

Yesterday was no exception. All-day, we experienced a steady flow of our wildlife friends from Frank and The Mrs. to bushbucks, duikers, kudus,  zebras, warthogs, and an array of birds.  

A mom protecting her offspring.

But, the highlight of our day was the band of mongoose, many of who were so excited for a treat that they, like Little, came up onto the veranda as shown in today’s photos.  

We couldn’t stop laughing as we watched their brazen behavior, literally at our feet, along with their playful antics as they mosied around the veranda with intense curiosity.

For the first time in almost two months, I was excited to be taking photos of these adorable little creatures and for a while, found myself back to my old self, wrapped up in nature and taking photos. What a good feeling!

Another mom looking out for her baby.  They stay very close to one another.

Right now, we have three wildebeests in the garden, two lounging for a possible nap. It appears to be one older male and two younger males. The older male may be the dad of one or both of them. 

Usually, Wildebeest Willie is the only wildebeest that visits our garden other than the occasional Dad & Son. Today’s visit of the three boys is a rare treat indeed,

Today, we’ll continue to lay low. Tomorrow morning, we’ll be leaving the house to drive to Nelspruit, where I’ll have the second after-surgery appointment with the surgeon.  

“We’re here.  What’s next?”

After the appointment, we’ll stop in Melalane, the halfway point, for a few items from the Click’s Pharmacy (that reminds me of Walgreen’s in the US) and grocery shopping at the Spar Market, which is bigger than our usual Spar in Komatipoort.

Once we return to the house, we’ll prepare the day’s post with updates on how I’m progressing after the surgery.

Have a spectacular day!

Photo from one year ago today, March 28, 2018:

A lizard-like gecko was found on the veranda. For more details, please click here.

Mongoose mania in the morning…Delightful little critters we’re coming to know..What’s our weekly expense for is feeding the wildlife?…

The mongoose now comes up the steps to let us know they’d like some eggs.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Mr. Tree Frog has become a regular fixture hanging out on this light fixture every night after dark. Most likely he’s attracted to the possibility of eating many insects around the light.

Mongooses fascinate us. (Yes, the plural of mongoose is most often mongooses, not necessarily mongeese). There is no biological connection between mongooses and geese.

The mongooses get along well with Ms. Bushbuck and Baby.

A group of mongooses ranging from 20 to 50 participants is called a band. In our area in Marloth Park, most often we see the banded (striped) mongoose. Most often they visit us in small groups of 20 or so but we’ve definitely had visits from as many as 60 or 70 of the funny little creatures 

“Only one more step to go,” says one mongoose to another.

In Africa, there are 34 species of mongooses but there are also these and other species in parts of Asia and Europe. In many countries, they are highly revered for their ability to fight with a venomous snake, surviving many bites.  

Mongooses are adept at killing snakes due to their agility, thick coats, and specialized acetylcholine receptors that render them resistant or immune to snake venom. Thus, we welcome them as visitors hoping their presence, which is daily, keeps the snake population at bay during the upcoming spring and summer months.

“I made it all the way to the top. Now, let’s see if the humans notice me!”

Some mongooses are strictly carnivores but those that visit us, the banded mongooses, seem to enjoy eating the small apple chunks that we toss to a wide variety of visitors although not with the enthusiasm as when we provide the bowl of scrambled eggs as shown in today’s photo with a mongoose lying in it.

“I’ll hide under the braai so they don’t see me.”

Each week, while I shop for groceries in Komatipoort Tom heads to the market in Lebombo where he purchases five dozen eggs for the mongooses and carrots and apples for the remaining wildlife which we “serve'” along with the pellets.

Our weekly cost for feeding wildlife is as follows:
Carrots 5 kg:  ZAR 34.90  (US $2.44)
Apples 2 bags: ZAR  39.80 (US $2.78)
Eggs 5 dozen:  ZAR 79.80  (US $5.57)
Pellets 60 kg:  ZAR 329.29 (US $23.00)
Total: ZAR 488.79 (US $33.79) 

“Hmm…should I try it too?”

We also eat the carrots in the 5 kg bag since they are of exceptional quality.  However, we don’t consume apples with our way of eating and prefer buying “free-range organic eggs” which we purchase weekly at Spar for our own use.

The total weekly/month cost may seem like too big a number to be tossing out to wildlife but the amount of enjoyment we get derive while providing wildlife with added sustenance is well worth the money.

“Gee…the eggs are all gone but I think I’ll lay in the bowl to let them know we want more.”

We never go to a movie, dine out only once per week on average, don’t have the cost of upkeep and home maintenance (including cable bills, lawn service, utilities, and trips to Home Depot) results in the most exquisite entertainment found anywhere in the world as far as we’re concerned.  

In our old lives, it was nothing unusual to drop ZAR 7159 (US $500) during a single trip to Costco, considered in itself to be quite entertaining, while loading up on massive sizes of household goods and food. Those days are long past.

“Trying a different position.  Maybe this will work.”

We do not feed the wildlife our leftover food. We plan our meals carefully and rarely have leftover food to toss. Nor would we feel it is safe for the wildlife to be fed human food. Their digestive systems are developed to consume vegetation and for the carnivores, like the banded mongooses that visit us, they consume insects, small rodents, frogs, lizards, snakes, and eggs. 

We often hear stories of holidaymakers and some local residents feeding the wildlife totally inappropriate foods, such as potato chips and fries, pasta and desserts, and other sugary, starchy foods that aren’t befitting their physical makeup.

“That didn’t work.  Maybe I’ll take a nap.”

In a perfect world, the bush would be rife with greenery, vegetation, and water sufficient to feed the wildlife. But, the reality is such that it’s not always possible and the sustenance we provide is only a tiny portion of what they need to be well-nourished.

Soon, when the rains come, we’ll be excited to see the wildlife thrive in a richer greener environment. Even so, we have no doubt they’ll continue to visit us whether or not they’re hungry as they are now in this parched dry terrain.

May your day be rich in experience and purpose.

Photo from one year ago today, September 22, 2017:

After many inquiries as to these low-carb chicken stuffed loaves, this recipe is included in the link below. Food is a big part of our world travels as we’re sure it is for most of you when traveling, whether homemade or dining in restaurants.  We tripled the recipe in order to result in four meals, freezing part of it.  For the recipe and instructions, please click here.

What a morning!…Many species came to call within a two-hour time frame…Is this real?

This was our first daytime giraffe visit at this house.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Zebras, helmeted guinea fowl, and of course our boy Tusker, whose quite a regular.

This morning we heard helicopters flying overhead heading to Kruger National Park in search of poachers. A considerable effort is being made to preserve the integrity of our endangered species who are being slaughtered for their horns, tusks, and even the scales of the quickly becoming extinct pangolin (an animal we’ve yet to see and would love to).

Within minutes a second giraffe arrived, and we excitedly photographed them both.

The sun is shining. The temperature is a comfortable 20C (68F) with a mild breeze. Endless varieties of birds are singing, and we even can hear the gurgling sounds of hippos a short distance away on the Crocodile River. .TIt couldn’t be a perfect morning…so we thought.

Giraffes have little competition for food in the treetops other than other giraffes.

Awakening earlier than usual after a good night’s sleep, while Tom was watching the Minnesota Vikings final pre-season game, I interrupted him to ask if he’d like to go to Kruger once I completed the post and he finished watching the game.

We couldn’t have been more thrilled to see them in our garden at long last.

In most cases, he enthusiastically agrees, but this time, he hesitated to state the weekend was here, and the crowds would be overwhelming in the national park during this busy holiday season.  

This more miniature giraffe may have been the offspring of the visiting female.

I was slightly disappointed but shrugged and went about my day, doing some laundry, chopping and dicing for tonight’s dinner, and reviewing the photos we had on hand for today’s post. Next week, we’ll surely head to Kruger, having been away for at least three weeks with our recent time out of the country.

Zebras are pretty rowdy with one another when competing for pellets. They don’t hesitate to kick and bite one another.

Little did I know that within a matter of minutes, magic would happen, and visitors came, one species after another, including the very first visit to our grounds by giraffes, who we’d longed to see since our arrival over six months ago.

And then, a band of mongoose suddenly appeared, hoping for raw eggs.  Tom mixed up a bowl full and placed it on the ground.

We’d seen a few giraffes in neighboring properties and taken a few photos, mainly at night and once, several weeks ago, saw one giraffe lingering in our driveway late at night. But, never had any giraffes come to call during the day.

I couldn’t grab the camera quickly enough, especially when all at once we had the following:  giraffes, zebras, warthogs, mongoose, and helmeted guinea fowl.  We had visits from bushbucks, hornbills, duikers, and a wide array of bird species throughout the morning.

They are used to Tom bringing out the bowl of raw scrambled eggs and wouldn’t back off while he placed it on the ground.

Tom didn’t hesitate to pause the football game to come outside to revel in the menagerie gracing us with their presence, each on their mission for some treats. Whether pellets, carrots, apples, eggs, or bird seeds, we joyfully shared our recently purchased inventory of things they love.

Unfortunately, giraffes don’t eat any foods we may offer when their goal and physical abilities only allow them to eat from the treetops or vegetation slightly below.  They only bend to the ground when drinking.

They pile atop one another to get a lick out of the bowl of eggs.  It’s hysterical to watch the action.

The morning continued magically, reminding us of how grateful and humbled we are to be in this amazing place, unlike anywhere else in the world, for whatever time we have left to be in South Africa.

Tom finished watching the game; Minnesota won, he was happy. I stayed busy with my various projects, online research, and managing the morning’s photos.  It’s been a great day so far.  Let’s see what rolls out for the remainder of the day.

Be well.  Be happy.

Photo from one year ago today, August 31, 2017:

Tom captured this unusual cloud formation in Costa Rica. For more, please click here.

Ten species visited us in one day…Check out who came to call….

These two zebra boys have now figured out it’s worth visiting us for some treats. We can hear the sounds of their hooves coming from the bush. They don’t like sharing with “Little Wart Face” (shown in the background) and can get very pushy with him and with Frank.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

A single damaged feather from a guinea fowl I found on the ground.

The majority of the holidaymakers have left Marloth Park, returning to their homes in South Africa and many other parts of the world. Often, visitors come to Marloth Park for a mere three to five days. We can’t imagine how they can reap the benefits of being in this wonderland in that short period.

During the busy holiday season, wildlife may rarely wander into their yard or be seen on the roads in three to five days. They could come here and only see a few impalas, hornbills, and perhaps a kudu or two.

Male impalas showed up, which we don’t often see in the yard.
But, nothing compares to the activity residents of the park are experiencing now that the bulk of the tourists have left. Although this could be disputed and, I assure you, it’s a topic of conversation in the bush that wildlife may not wander into the yards of bush houses when so many humans are around.

Some tourists come to relax and unwind in this calming environment, staying up late on the verandas of their holiday homes, talking loudly, playing loud music, and drinking alcohol in excess. This type of noise is not appealing to wild animals. 
A forkl of kudus and a herd of impalas.
Other tourists come here to utilize whatever time they may be available to glean morsels of heaven found in this veritable paradise for animal lovers, sadly going away with having seen very little.

Even trips into Kruger, as we so well know, can be disappointing. There’s no guaranty one will see more than impalas and birds in a single day’s visit. Now that things have settled down here, we plan to go back to Kruger this week to see what we can find.
Several handsome impalas stopped by, which we seldom see in our yard.  More often, we see them on the sides of the road when driving through the park.

However, there’s no shortage of guaranteed entertainment right here on the veranda in the “Orange…More Than Just a Color” house we’ve rented for an extended period. If South Africa immigration allows, we’ll spend a year here until next February or March.

With the crowds thinned out and perhaps only 700 or so people living in the park right now, the wildlife is literally “pounding at our door” all day and evening. At times, we can barely keep up feeding them pellets, carrots, apples, and any raw vegetable scraps from our daily food prep.

Many helmeted guineafowls have become regular visitors.
Yesterday, we had ten different species visit us in one day, some multiple times, some in various groups as appropriately named in our above photos. As I busily prepared the food for Louise and Danie to join us for dinner,  I frequently stopped what I was doing to cut up apples and carrots for our animal friends.
We couldn’t believe our day when we had the following wildlife visit us in one day:
1.  Kudu
2.  Bushbuck
3.  Impala
4.  Warthog
5.  Mongoose
6.  Francolin
7.  Helmeted Guineafowl
8.  Zebra
9.  Duiker
Frank, our resident francolin, doesn’t miss a thing!  Sometimes, he brings his girlfriend, but most often, he’s alone hanging out with the other animals. Francolins are territorial, and he won’t hesitate to scare off a warthog or kudu.

Of course, we didn’t include the dozens of birds that flew into the yard throughout the day. The most we’d ever counted, including when we were here four years ago, was a total of eight. We love all birds but mention the guineafowl and Frank (francolin) since they rarely fly, spending their days walking about the bush and our yard.

Last night’s dinner was a big hit. How could it not be when we were with Louise and Danie? We so enjoy time spent together and never hesitate to arrange another perfect day or evening in each other’s company.

A band of mongoose comes by almost daily.  We feed them water mixed with raw scrambled eggs. Most likely, due to their presence, we won’t see too many snakes around here. 
The previous Sunday, we had a fabulous dinner and evening at Sandra and Paul’s home two doors down our road. The food was superb, and the companionship delightful. 

Whew! Our social life is astounding!  But, as typical here in the park, people come and go. Our friends Kathy and Don are gone now but should be returning in a few weeks. Ken and Linda are traveling and should be returning in a few months. Lynne and Mick won’t return until November. Janet and Steve have company from the UK, but we plan to see them soon.
And…here’s our girls…kudus, of course.
Even Louise and Danie will be gone for a week to visit family in Cape Town beginning on Friday. But, they’ll be back to continue to handle their very active holiday home rental and house building businesses. We’ll look forward to their return. 
Each night we put out the little cup of peach-flavored yogurt on the stand, and the bushbabies appear around 6:15 pm, just after darkness falls.

This doesn’t include all the other fine people we’ve met here who are permanent residents, all of whom we look forward to spending time with again soon. We can’t thank everyone enough to show our appreciation for including us in their busy lives. 

Where in the world is it like this? The only other place we’ve found so easy to make friends was in Kauai, Hawaii. Perhaps, someday we’ll return for another visit.

Duikers are extremely shy and seldom come near.
For now, we’re looking at our upcoming itinerary and any modifications we are considering. Today, we’ll be doing some planning and figuring out our best options for the future.

Have a great day enjoying your best options. Back at you soon! 
Photo from one year ago today, April 10, 2017:
This was a tile roof we spotted in Fairlight, Australia, one year ago.  For more photos, please click here.

Unbelievable sighting in our yard…You must see this!…Look below!…Fabulous evening with friends…

Please take a moment to watch our video of mongoose visitors in our yard last night!

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Finally, my favorite, warthogs, stopped by for a lengthy visit—more on this tomorrow.

I don’t know where to begin first, the outrageous sighting in the yard shortly after our friends arrived for dinner, a stunning sighting for all of us or, the exceptional evening we spent with four of our friends.

Ken, Tom, and Don are making big faces for the camera!
Linda, me and Kathy. It was these two thoughtful friends that took me to lunch on my birthday four years ago. Wow! Now, we’ll all be together again to celebrate my 70th.
During the day, we had no less than eight visitors all at once from three different species that sent us into a tailspin of pure delight. That event in itself was beyond our wildest dream this early in our stay. We’ll share those photos tomorrow.
At first, we only saw a few of the mongooses, but the rest were on their way into the yard.

We only arrived a week ago today, and yet we’ve seen every species that resides in the Conservancy, and beginning next week, we’ll head to Kruger National Park hoping to see the Big Five once again; lion, elephant, cape buffalo, rhino, and leopard.

Our guests arrived promptly at 6:00 pm, and we were ready for our guests. When we’d made the invitation to the four of them for dinner, we realized we had enough food on hand for the meal without the necessity of heading to the market.

Mongoose is the popular English name for 29 of the 34 species in the 14 genera of the family Herpestidae, small feliform carnivorans native to southern Eurasia and mainland Africa. The other five species (all African) in the family are the four kusimanses in the genus Crossarchus and the only species in the genus SuricataSuricata suricatta, commonly called meerkat in English.”

We made the following (all the meats were cooked on the grill):
1.  Pork Chops
2.  Lamb Chops
3.  Boerewors (sausages) – “The many varieties of boerewors include specialties such as garlic wors, kameeldoring (camel thorn), Karoowors (sausage from the Karoo region in South Africa), and spekwors (made with extra cubed pork fat). Other ingredients include cheese and chili peppers.”
4. Cauliflower Mash
5. Pureed Pumpkin
6. Sauteed onions, garlic, and portabella mushroom (to top the seasoned meat)
7. Cabbage Salad

Suddenly a baby was on the scene.

We’d purchased beer and wine, but they insisted on bringing their own beverages, a tradition when visiting guests in the bush. We had purchased a lighter red wine for me with less alcohol and tannins, which tend to keep me awake at night after a few glasses. It wasn’t as good as a regular Cabernet or Merlot, but I drank it anyway. Tom had Castle Beer, manufactured in South Africa and a local favorite.

Mongooses love raw eggs.  When we spotted them, Tom ran inside, bringing out an 18 pack of fresh eggs.  He laid one on the ground, and this is what happened.

Although we’d seen Linda and Ken in Sydney 11 months ago, we hadn’t seen Kathy and Don in four years. It was Kathy and Don who’d invited us for Christmas Eve when they’d never met us. We’d met their mutual friends, Lynne and Mick, at Jabula Lodge a few days before Christmas, and they hooked us up.

During the period of time they were in our yard, Tom placed four eggs on the ground for them to quickly fight for and devour.  It was quite a scene.

Lynne and Mick were leaving Marloth for the holidays but wanted to make sure we had something wonderful to do on Christmas Eve. And indeed we did, spending the evening at Kathy and Don’s beautiful bush house bordering the Crocodile River. Here’s the link to that story.

To know that soon we’ll all be together again (also with other dear friends) at my birthday party in two days fills my heart with so much joy and love. How did we get so lucky? 

Once the rest of them realized we had eggs, they piled atop one another.

The evening flowed with considerable ease when we’d prepared all but the meat in advance. I heated the side dishes in the microwave and then popped them in the preheated oven. With the homemade dressing ready to go, I tossed the salad. 

“Mongooses live in southern AsiaAfrica, and southern Europe, as well as FijiPuerto Rico, and some in the Caribbean and Hawaiian islands, where they are an introduced species. The 34 species range from 24 to 58 cm (9.4 to 22.8 in) in length, excluding the tail. Mongooses range in weight from the common dwarf mongoose, at 320 g (11 oz), to the cat-sized white-tailed mongoose, at 5 kg (11 lb).”

Tom, Don, and Ken fussed over the grill, and by 8:00 pm, we were all seated at the outdoor table, meats cooked to perfection, and we dug in for a hearty meal (minus gluten, grains, starch, and sugar). No one even noticed we didn’t have rice, potatoes, or bread. 

The lively conversation continued through the delightful evening. We all have so much in common in our love for Marloth Park, traveling and being engaged in lively and exciting times at this point in our lives.

In a split second, they were all over the eggs.  See our above video for details.  “Mongooses mostly feed on insectscrabsearthwormslizardsbirds, and rodents. However, they also eat eggs and carrion. The Indian gray mongoose and others are well known for fighting and killing venomous snakes, particularly cobras. They are adept at such tasks due to their agility, thick coats, and specialized acetylcholine receptors that render them resistant or immune to snake venom.  However, they typically avoid the cobra and have no particular affinity for consuming its meat.”

So yesterday, enriched by our friend’s visit and the many wildlife “visitors,” it was quite a special day. You won’t be disappointed! Enjoy our photos, and please take a moment to watch the video.

Be well. Be happy.

Photo from one year ago today, February 18, 2017:

Although overcast in the Huon Valley, Tom had a great day fishing and taking photos while boating with Anne and Rob. For more photos, please click here.