Girl time today…Couples time in the evening…Four days and counting…

This is so typical for Broken Horn. He peeks around the house to see if we’re outside. He always makes us laugh!

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
  • 13 bushbucks – inc. Chewy, Thick Neck, Bad Leg, Spikey, Stringy, and others
  • 1 kudu – Big Daddy – Did we lose Bossy and family?
  • 1 wildebeest – inc. Broken Horn
  • 31  helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 2 hornbills –
  • 2 Frank and The Misses
This same bushbuck that visited a few days ago with vines/roots on his head has now been aptly named Stringy.

I am rushing through today’s post.  At 11:00 am, Rita and I have pedicure appointments with Patience which could easily last for 2½ hours. It was only about 6 weeks ago that Linda and I had pedicures at the same spa here in Marloth Park. Since it will be hot in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and especially in Nevada, another pedicure for my two pairs of sandals was on the agenda.

As I’ve aged, and especially after open-heart surgery, as much as I dislike admitting this, I’ve found doing my own pedicures isn’t as easy as it used to be. Then again, I notice some other tasks are a little more challenging than they used to be, such as chopping and dicing. My hands are not as adept as they used to be. But, Gee…as they say, it’s hell to get old.

A short time later, Stingly used the bark of a tree to remove these vines/roots from his face.

On the other hand, there’s never been a time in my life when I’ve enjoyed myself more. Is it maturity that makes this life so fulfilling, or is it the fact that we’ve been living in “Paradise” for the past five months? This morning with no less than six wildlife species in the garden and the remainder of the day spent engaged in social activities, including dinner out tonight with Rita and Gerhard, and I couldn’t ask for more.

There’s been an uptick of Covid-19 cases in Marloth Park, most likely due to the influx of guests staying in the holiday homes in the park, many coming from Johannesburg, where there’s been a tremendous surge in cases, inspiring President Ramaphosa to enact tougher lockdowns.

Today, there are 10 new, active cases here in Marloth Park, which put us on alert while we continue to dine out and interact with our friends in tiny gatherings. In addition, we received new masks in the most recent package sent to us a few months ago. These masks were approved for military use in the US with enhanced protection. So today, during our pedicures, I will wear that mask, hoping it provides ample protection.

This is One Tusk, who’s become quite a regular. Most likely, while in the US, we’ll purchase a new camera. The camera we have is now several years old, and after years of humidity, the lens has been ruined, resulting in poor-quality photos.

As of yesterday, there were 16,078 new cases in South Africa. Detailed information may be found at this link. As a result, South Africa moved up the list of countries globally with the most number of cases and deaths to the 19th position from the 20th, which held for many months.

When at Jabula, we make a particular point of maintaining social distancing, frequently using sanitizer, and avoid contact with others.  We’re curious to see how it goes in the US when we will be out and about every day and evening. At this point, 45% of the US population has been fully vaccinated. But, they are a long way from herd immunity. When there, even after our vaccinations, we will proceed with caution.

We’ll head to Komatipoort for our Covid-19 PCR test on Monday, receiving our test results first thing Tuesday morning. We had to schedule our tests as close to our departure date when airlines and countries we’ll enter on the long journey require test results to be no older than 72 hours.

Tiny and Broken Horn are frequently in the garden at the same time.

We won’t be required to quarantine in the US. Also, the majority of our family members have been fully vaccinated. But, we’ll continue to exercise caution once we arrive as to who we see the first several days. It would be unrealistic not to be concerned about contracting the virus while traveling for two days.

As we’d done when we flew here from India over five months ago, we will be as cautious as we possibly can be, wearing masks, face shields, gloves, using sanitizer frequently, and social distancing. It will be interesting to see how many travelers will be at the various airports.

So, that’s it for today, folks. With only four days until we depart Marloth Park, our thoughts are wrapped around packing and getting everything in order before we leave.

Be safe. Be well. Have hope for the future.

Photo from one year ago today, June 25, 2020:

This was the steepest hill in the neighborhood in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy, in 2013. For more photos, please click here.

A mini spa day…The simple sights, sounds and smell in the bush…

Young male bushbuck with sprouting little horns.

It may be strange, but all those years of travelling around the world, fast approaching nine years, I never once had a professional pedicure or a spa service of any kind. For whatever reason, lately I’ve been thinking about getting a pedicure. I mentioned this to Linda and she suggested we could go together.

Louise had suggested a woman in Marloth Park who has a spa in the park, giving me a brochure with prices and her contact information. Today at 11:30, Linda and I meet at the spa for the pedicures. Since I don’t drive in South Africa, Tom will drop me off and pick me up when I call and let him know I’m ready to go.

Mom and five babies. Tiny took a liking to the mom.

In the United States and many other countries, spa pedicures range in cost from US $35 to US $80, from ZAR 498 to ZAR 1139, depending on location. Here in South Africa, the average price for the 60-minute service is US$14, ZAR 200, plus tip. This is an enormous difference! If the prices here had been compared to those in the United States, I don’t think I would have been motivated to make an appointment.

Again, prices for many goods and services are considerably lower in South Africa than in many regions of the world. The cost of living here is lower than any other country we have lived in, about half of the cost of living in the United States. Adding the enjoyment of the many friendships we’ve made while here, let alone the joy we derive from living in the bush among the wildlife, this couldn’t be more ideal for us.

Tiny and the five piglets got along fine since he was pursuing their mom.

Right now, situated on the veranda, the regular band of mongoose is here, three warthogs are looking for more pellets, as well as two bushbucks, along with a few stray impalas. In a matter of minutes everything could change. I often equate our outdoor life in Marloth Park, comparable to fishing.

Fishing, which we both enjoyed in Minnesota years ago, consists of patience and anticipation. There’s no difference here. We sit, wait, watch, and all of a sudden, magic happens. Luckily, we are not catching or eating what we find here. Instead, we “catch” a photo while revelling in the snorts of warthogs, the sweet chirping sounds of the mongoose, the thundering vibrations of the hooves of the zebra on the dry ground, and the endless melodic sounds of a variety of birds in the dense bush.

Wildebeest Willie, lounging in the garden.

Occasionally, we’re “gifted” with the heart-pounding roar of Dezi and Fluffy, the two lions in Lionspruit which borders our back garden. Nothing, anywhere in the world where we could live, compares to the barrage on our senses of the sights, sounds and smells of the bush.

You don’t often hear about scents in the bush. Recently, a reader inquired, asking if we smelled poop from the animals in the bush. We do not. But, the smell of seasonal blooming flowers, the smells emitting from the low lying brush in the bush, a neighboring roaring fire or braai, and the occasional smell of an animal’s hormonal permeating the air, is intoxicating at times.

And then, in the evening, the wonderful scents of our next meal of well-seasoned meat cooked on the braai, leaves a “souvenir of perfume” that we will always carry with us. Even, in the evenings,  the smell of citronella in our various candles and lanterns and the repellent on our skin, all intended to keep the mosquitos at bay, leave a smell we’ve come to recognize as pleasant and familiar.

More zebras in the garden.

No, we can’t stay here forever. No, we have no interest in buying a home or a vacation rental in Marloth Park or anywhere for that matter. We stand firm in our desire to remain free from the rigors of home ownership and responsibility. At some point in the future, when age forces us to stop or lessen our travels, we may have to implement a new philosophy and finally settle down.

Until then, we embrace the life which has been given to us for the moment and cherish every day and every evening. Obviously, what we will do in 54 days remains a mystery and a challenge. But, in our usual way, we will find a solution and in the interim, we’ll allow ourselves the privilege of experiencing the “present moment” for as long as possible.

Be well. Be safe. Remain diligent.

Photo from one year ago today, May 7, 2020:

The ostrich has the biggest eyes of any animal in the world. The giant squid possesses the biggest eyes of a sea animal. For more photos, please click here.