Final social evening in the bush…Good news!!!…One day and counting…

Tom’s favorite, Ms. Bushbuck is totally comfortable near him. 

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Toad peeking out from the ornamental mask.

Last night, Kathy, Don, Linda, Ken and Louise and Danie arrived at 5:30 loaded up with prepared dishes and meats to cook on the grill.  It was an easy night for me when everyone pitched in while I simply sat at one end of the table with the girls while the boys carried on at the opposite end.

What a great evening was had by all.  Kathy, knowing how much I love steak and lobster brought along fantastic lobster tails she’d purchased in Pretoria, filet mignon steaks and baked potatoes.  
Closeup of our toad peeking out from a hole in a decorative mask.

Linda brought along a wonderful salad to share and chicken to cook on the braai and Louise and Danie brought a home roasted tongue with a fabulous mustard sauce and a bacon cabbage dish.  Little did they know I love tongue but hadn’t had it in years. 

Our plates were filled with tasty treats and of course, as always, the conversation was lively and animated.  Tonight we’ll spend our last evening together at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant and this time, since I now can sit, I’ll be able to attend.

Eventually, we stopped giving mongooses whole eggs and beat up the eggs in the green dish  That way there would be enough for everyone.

This morning we headed back to the doctor’s office for our final visit for the treatment on my leg and Doc Phillip’s assessment as to whether I need to go to a wound clinic every other day in distant Galway, Ireland, a 90-minute drive each way.

Much to both of our delight, the wound in continuing to heal and we’ll be able to treat it ourselves since it doesn’t require any more debridement and only needs to be cleaned with a special antibacterial liquid, have a silver based cream applied along with moist treated gauze and fresh sterile bandages added, along with a freshly washed pair of compression stockings.

Interesting marking on zebras, each of which is so unique.

I will continue to wear the compression stockings until the wound sufficiently heals, for an additional one to three months, when it no longer requires treatment and bandages.  The purpose of the compression stockings is to prevent dangerous blood clots from forming and they must be worn around the clock. 

Finally, I’ve become used to wearing them at night and they no longer cause my feet to burn during the night, a huge relief.  Last night when our friends asked how I was feeling overall (although they’ve asked almost every day) and I said “I’ve been so preoccupied with my legs, I hardly noticed the ongoing improvement in the healing from the bypass surgery.

Big Daddy, of whom there are many, comes to call on a sunny morning.

In two days, it will be three months ago since the bypass surgery and I can say without hesitation that I am almost totally healed.  I no longer need a pillow for my chest when driving on bumpy roads and I can sleep on my side without discomfort in my chest.  I can use my arms without pain in my chest which took two months or more to change.

“Retired Generals,” cape buffalo males who hang together after being kicked out of the herd when they lost the battle for dominance and the right to mate.

Surprisingly, I am not tired during the day and generally feel well except for the ongoing pain in my left leg which in no time at all should be healing. I can walk 6000 steps per days and within a month should be up to 10,000 steps per day, to be continued for the long haul.

Last night our friends complimented me saying I made it through this with bravery and strength.  I didn’t.  I whined and complained to my girlfriends (not so much to Tom since he had his hands full) and at times, I wondered if I’d ever get well.  

The Mrs. (francolin).

Their love and support saw me through and I’m no braver or stronger than anyone else who’d go through this difficult surgery and subsequent two legs surgeries on both legs.

But, here we are leaving Marloth Park tomorrow, traveling for 24 hours to finally arrive at our next location in our continuing world travels, Connemara, Ireland where we’ll stay for the next 90 days.  

Frank, our resident francolin was a regular, making his loud noise day and night, was always welcomed.

In three months from tomorrow, we’ll be on our first cruise since Antarctica, ending in February 2018.  We’ll be sailing in the Baltic Sea and at long last be able to visit St. Petersburg, Russia and many other amazing locations. 

Grateful to be alive?  Immensely.  Grateful for the love and caregiving support of my husband Tom who never faltered in the quality of his care?  Forever.  Grateful to the fine medical care in South Africa, especially Dr. Theo Stronkhorst?  We’ll never forget.  Grateful to our friends who stood by me through this difficult period?  Always. 

A leopard tortoise visited our garden.

And, grateful to the animals who always put a smile on our faces, made us laugh and cry and reminded us of the delicate balance of the relationships with humans and animals as we share this world with them, their world with us.

Tomorrow will be our final post from Marloth Park, from South Africa.  We have a very special story to share, a story of love and understanding in two different worlds and yet, in many ways, in one.


Photo from one year ago today, May 10, 2018:

We were thrilled to see a wildebeest in the yard this morning, an uncommon occurrence.  We named him “Wildebeest Willie” and he’s been a frequent visitor since.  For more photos, please click here.

Two days and counting…Favorite photos from Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe…Chobe National Park, Victoria Falls,

Alas, we arrived at the magical splendor of Victoria Falls, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Kudus is stopping by for a bit of breakfast.

Gosh, it’s hard to believe it was a year ago that we left South Africa for Zambia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe for sightseeing and a possible visa extension. To get a visa extension, travelers must depart to a country that isn’t bordering South Africa at any point.  

In the shallow area of Victoria Falls, we were gifted with a rainbow, but this was the first of many we saw throughout the day.
Zambia was a perfect choice, and from there, we visited Zimbabwe and Botswana. We had the opportunity to see Victoria Falls from both Zambia and Zimbabwe, which were two entirely different scenarios. We enjoyed every moment of finally being able to see the famous waterfalls.
I was happy to see Tom safely return from climbing to the top of the wet slippery bridge he tackled without me.  I’m not reasonably as surefooted as he is. It was slickthe visibility was poor, and I wouldn’t have been able to take photos in the heavy mist, so I stayed behind with Alec while we awaited his return. I was getting worried when he’d been gone a long time. Seeing him in his yellow poncho made me sigh with relief.
From this siteWhile it is neither the highest nor the widest waterfall in the world, Victoria Falls is classified as the largest, based on its combined width of 1,708 meters (5,604 ft.) and height of 108 meters (354 ft.), resulting in the world’s largest sheet of falling water.”

Also, we’d heard so much about Chobe National Park and the Chobe River. For years, I’d longed to do a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River, and as it turned it, we did it all, thrilled we had an opportunity to see so much.
The sights and sounds of Victoria Falls from both the Zambia and Zimbabwe sides were unlike anything we’ve seen in the past.

We spent a week on these trips, details and more of which may be found in the archives beginning on May 12, 2018, and continuing for several days. Please check out the links for more exciting photos and adventures during this fantastic trip.

After this elephant dug a decent-sized mud hole, he decided to try to lay on his side. Digging the hole must have been exhausting for this big fellow in the heat of the sun.  Please click here and scroll down to the videos for four stunning videos of him swimming in the Chobe River.

As it turned out, once again, we needed a visa extension, and we returned in August for more exciting tours.  More on this later. In any case, it was fun to see other African countries. To date, we’ve been to nine countries on the African continent, which is nothing compared to its total of 54.  

There are no less than a dozen countries in Africa it’s unlikely we’ll ever visit, which present enormous risks for tourists. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed being in Africa but don’t want to take any unnecessary risks.  

The best snorkeling apparatus on the planet…his trunk. His huge feet were no longer touching the river bottom, and he was buoyant.

We’re often asked if we’ll return to Africa, and that’s definitely on our itinerary, especially when we’ve booked a cruise to Cape Town in two years. However, what will transpire at immigration in Johannesburg will determine when we’ll be allowed to re-enter the country. We’ll see how that goes and report back during our upcoming lengthy travel day.

During our sunset cruise on the Zambezi River, we spotted these bee-eaters making nests and burrows into holes they made in the river bank.

As for posting on our upcoming long travel day, Saturday, May 11th, we will upload a post in the morning before we depart for Nelspruit airport. We’ll arrive in Connemara on Sunday afternoon, and if time allows, we’ll upload a short post indicating we’ve arrived.  

Sunset on the Zambezi River.

If you don’t see a post on Sunday, it will be due to an arrival later than we’d expected, and we’ll wait until the following day. At that point, we’ll have been traveling for 24 hours or more and maybe too tired to do so.

Riding the ferry is free for people but not for vehicles between Zambia and Botswana but, to disembark requires removing one’s shoes and walking in the water.

I’m going from recuperating in a mostly lying-down position to a 24-hour travel day. I have no idea how well I’ll feel when we arrive. But, please rest assured that after some rest and one night’s sleep, we’ll be right back here writing to all of you.

Of course, I’d be lying if I said I was totally at ease in anticipation of this long travel day. My number one objective will be to walk every hour on the various flights except when fully reclined in my business class seat in the middle of the night.

Albert, our guide, prepared “tea time” before we entered the Chobe National Park.

Ah, let’s hope it all goes smoothly. There’s only a 90-minute layover in Johannesburg, and that’s where we’ll have to deal with immigration. If the process is lengthy, we could miss the flight. My being in a wheelchair will hopefully speed up the waiting time in the lines at immigration.

That’s it for today, folks. We’re hoping you all have a peaceful and stress-free day!

Note:  Due to a WiFi signal issue this morning, the line and paragraph spacing are “off,” preventing me from correcting the situation.

Photo from one year ago today, May 9, 2018:

An elephant taking a drink from the river. For more photos, please click here.

Vulture Day!…What?…Are vultures deserving a day of their own?…Most certainly!…

Classic scene of three vultures on a limb.  We were thrilled to get this shot from quite a distance. From this site:  Vultures are, however, great ecologists, having a high sense of personal hygiene and are a manifestation of the adage of patience as a virtue. They clean the veld of carrion, thereby minimizing the impact of animal disease, and they bathe regularly in rivers after gorging themselves at a kill.”

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Whoa, Mr. Zebra!  Why are you climbing the steps to the veranda?

Each visit to Kruger National Park seems to result in the focus of one particular species or another. It may be rhinos, elephants, giraffes, zebras, or wildebeests. 

Oddly, and much to our surprise, the focus of yesterday’s foray in the park seemed to highlight vultures. After about 45 minutes on the tar road from the Crocodile Bridge entrance, we noticed several vehicles tightly pulled into an overlook area. Of course, we had to stop to see what was going on.

This appeared to be the most common vulture we spotted, the white-backed vulture. From this site: “To watch the interaction of vultures at a kill is like witnessing the unbridled nature of food politics. The Shangaan proverb that translates as ‘where the vultures assemble, there is a kill’ refers to the fact that there is always a purpose in mind when people gather together. The White-backed Vulture is the most common in Kruger. There are approximately 2 000 pairs in the Park, concentrated mostly in the dry, lightly wooded grasslands of the east and mopane veld of the north. They are the most gregarious of vultures, often roosting in large communes where they sleep with their heads tucked under their wings. They often soar at great heights during the day and depend on either the Bateleur or other vultures to lead them to a kill.”

One’s hope in these situations that lions might be the reason for the gathering of vehicles. We hoped it was lions for us, who have yet to see lions while driving through Kruger but have experienced several sightings from Marloth Park overlooking the Crocodile River from this side of the fence.

Most photo safari participants long to see lions above all other wildlife in the massive national park, whether self-driven or in a guide-driven and assisted safari vehicle.

This vulture appeared to be a different species from the others shown.

Months ago, we let go of our burning desire to see lions in Kruger National Park since we’d seen them on the river, and we didn’t want our focus on lions to distract us from other wildlife we’ve thoroughly enjoyed sighting on our almost weekly visits to the park.

As we entered the tight overlook area, where no less than a dozen vehicles were crammed, we searched and searched for a lion, a kill, or a dying animal that may have attracted the many vultures in trees and hovering over the area, to no avail.

There was little information online to help us identify these vultures. Any comments would be appreciated! From this site: Vultures fight unashamedly over whatever scraps they can get, and when they descend on the proverbial trough, their grim determination is evident – these birds can consume a kilogram of meat in a minute and strip a carcass within hours.”

Tom used his trusty Swarovski binoculars while I searched with the viewfinder of the camera, scanning every inch of terrain which wasn’t obstructed by trees and bush.No luck. We didn’t see a thing other than the variety of vultures we’ve presented here today, most of which were sitting in trees rather than eating something on the ground.

Although months ago we purchased the Kruger Park Map & Guide with photos of most birds found in the park, including birds of prey, we couldn’t identify by name any of the specific vultures shown above other than the white-backed vulture.  

This vulture appears to be out of a scary movie or nightmare. From friend Ken (thanks, Ken!): This is the Hooded Vulture. They usually turn on the feast after the Lappet-faced or white-backed has torn into the carcass and had their fill. Details: 65 to 75cms high considered small in Vulture terms.The wingspan of 1.7 -1.8m. From this site: Physically, all vultures appear built for scavenging. They have strong, hooked beaks that can tear a carcass open, but unlike other birds of prey, their feet are not suited to catching live animals. The main exception appears to be the Hooded Vulture – as the smallest and most prone to being bullied off a carcass, it has diversified its diet to include termites and small animals such as lizards.”

If any of our worldwide readers are vulture enthusiasts, please send me an email from the link on the right side of our homepage under the “translate” button and let me know each species numbered them top to bottom, beginning with a photo #1. This would be greatly appreciated.

There’s no doubt. We often search for birds in our garden throughout Marloth Park on our almost daily drives and when visiting Kruger. However, we must admit, the bulk of acquired knowledge revolves around other types of wildlife.

Here in Africa, we love the sounds of various birds pecking in our bird feeder, the constant “trilling” sound of the helmeted guinea fowls, the squawking of hornbills, and of course, any sightings of the most peculiar and fascinating ostriches. 
Obviously, there had been a kill in the area where sighting these various vultures.

While living in Kauai, Hawaii, in 2015 for four months, we were literally obsessed with the nesting Laysan Albatross as shown in dozens of posts such as this one here. Also, during the extended stay on the island, we fell in love with a singing-for-nuts, red cardinal we aptly named “Birdie,” which can be found here.

Lately, our favorite birds have been francolins, Frank, and the Misses, who now respond when we call for them. In the meantime, the not-so-dumb guinea fowls come running when they hear me call for Frank, knowing birdseed is on the horizon.

Then, of course, there were hundreds of thousands of birds we saw while in Antarctica a mere six months ago. See this link for some of those stunning birds, including albatross and a wide array of penguin species.

We got as close as possible but could not see what had piqued the interest of all of these vultures. From this site: “Almost all the vultures in Africa are represented in Kruger, the main exception being the Lammergeyer, which is restricted to the Kwazulu-Natal Drakensberg, and the Palm-nut Vulture, which is found on the eastern seaboard (rarely seen in Kruger). The Park has thus become a vulture sanctuary, mainly because of the predator activity on the ground, and secondly because of poisoning in non-protected areas of southern Africa.”

We’re often dependent upon our friends Lynne and Mick from Marloth Park (now in the UK) and friend Louise in Kauai, Hawaii, to assist us in identifying birds, but we don’t like to take up too much of their time. If you can help, please do.

One thing for sure, wherever we may travel in the world, there are birds, and we’ll always enjoy sightings with opportunities to take photos when possible to share with all of our readers/friends.

Thank you for being on this journey with us! May your day provide you with opportunities to enjoy our flying, walking, and running aviary friends.

Photo from one year ago today, July 25, 2017:

One year ago, while in Las Vegas, I dinged the rental car. How I got it fixed was quite unusual. Click here for the details.