Coldest night so far…Another fun anniversary to celebrate!!!…New photos from nighttime trail cam and more…

Today, we celebrate 31 years since we met in 1991. This is our last selfie, taken at the silent disco on the cruise in April 2022, the night before we both developed symptoms of Omicron. We are grateful to have recovered and, of course, to be together through all the ups and downs of being home-free, storage-free world travelers for almost ten years. That special anniversary is upcoming on October 31!!!

The aircon units used in bedrooms here can cool in the hottest weather and warm when it’s cold. We’ve never used the heating feature since we feel we don’t need to waste the electricity required to power the heating aspect of these units. Instead, we bundle up in warm clothes and, at night, sleep with layers of blankets we can strip off if necessary.

It’s incredible how much our body heat warms the bedroom at night. We noticed it when we left the bedroom at night to get something from the kitchen. We have never turned on the heat while in South Africa.

Last night at dinner, while seated at the dining room table (it was too cold to eat outdoors), my fingers were as cold as they would have been outdoors in the middle of winter in Minnesota. Holding them under warm water for a few minutes solved the problem.

Later, fully dressed, we got under the two top layers on the bed to watch a movie, one Tom hadn’t seen years ago, and now I know why. It was Armageddon, a movie I’d seen once and recalled, like the adventure of a disaster movie. The past few years are reminiscent of movies I watched about pandemics. Isn’t it ironic that those movies have come to us in the form of real life? I sure hope no massive asteroid start hurdling toward earth!

According to many news reports we read from time to time, we face disasters, right and left. Sometimes, I find it best not to read those articles. One can become anxious and depressed over such news. We both choose to embrace the positive aspects of life. Negative thinking can quickly impact one’s quality of life and health.

That doesn’t mean we are oblivious to what’s happening globally and even locally. We stay aware enough to tweak our lives as needed to consider the challenges such as using less fuel, not being wasteful, recycling, and being mindful of using products and services we don’t need. This also means tightening our budget as needed in tough economic times.

Last night, after two hours on hold with Costco Travel about finally receiving our over the US $5000, ZAR 79,318 credit from Azamara from us canceling the Black Sea cruise when the itinerary was changed due to the war in Ukraine. We intended to offset the final payment due at midnight for the first leg of the upcoming cruise in November for the triple back-to-back from Athens to Cape Town.

Why should we pay in advance when they owe us so much money? Luckily, after being on hold for two hours, the Costco rep finally got through to Azamara and resolved the issue. They credited us over US $5000. We’ll pay for the second leg in a few weeks and the third, weeks later.

Big Daddy gracefully stepped over the fence with his long legs.

This particular triple back-to-back is very expensive, much more than we’re usually willing to spend. But. It’s an almost entirely new itinerary for us, seeing countries we may never be able to see again, and we decided to bite the bullet and book them. Of course, we are concerned about getting Covid-19 again, based on our recent bad experience. But, we’ve chosen not to live our lives in fear, preventing us from new experiences.

We hear so much about people getting Covid-19 on cruise ships. But, if we were to research other venues and circumstances, people are still getting sick from different scenarios. That doesn’t mean we are careless and unconcerned. It simply means we’ve decided to move on and resume our world travels more expansively.

This evening, the two of us will celebrate the anniversary of the day we met 31 years ago, on June 28, 1991. We are grateful to be together after all these years, still in love and blissfully interested in one another.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, June 28, 2021:

Thick Neck stopped by frequently at our last house, but we’ve yet to see him here. Maybe one day, soon. For more photos, please click here.

Part 3…Photos of “things” in our holiday home…Outdoors, that is!…

We like the message but we do have WiFi and…we do talk to each other.

It’s a cool windy day, heavily overcast. We’re bundled up in warm clothes but it’s unlikely we’ll be sitting outdoors this evening. Many of the animals are hunkered down when they don’t seem to feel comfortable in the wind. A sweet little female duiker, whom we’ve named Delilah, who usually hangs out with her partner, Derek, ran off when a huge gust of wind startled her.

We look forward to spring when frogs will occupy such masks and sit looking out at the world through one of the eyes or mouth holes. Very funny.

Even Lollie is tucked away somewhere when we’ve only seen her for a few minutes earlier this morning. Several Big Daddies have visited and devoured the tops from the celery and outer leaves of the lettuce, which I cleaned for tonight’s salad. It’s funny they love the bitter celery tops.

We use this high-quality gas braai no less than three times a week, if not more. Tonight, we’ll be cooking a silverside roast.

We have celery in our dinner salad daily, along with purple onions, grape tomatoes, and crispy lettuce. I make an easy sour cream dressing we toss before serving it. I chop the vegetables daily and feed the scraps to the kudus and bushbucks, who love veggie chips. The warthogs don’t seem to like any leftovers other than carrots. They are more interested in higher carb vegetables which we don’t eat.

A pot with succulents is located on the edge of the veranda. We water it occasionally when it hasn’t rained.

Last night, we finished The Godfather II and III and loved every moment of these good movies. Now, we’ll move on to other shows to stream at night. If you have any suggestions for newer series, please send them our way. We’ve already watched many of the popular series that were available during the pandemic.  We’re now looking at the newer series that have been released since then.

Louise and Danie provide firewood for the braai (firepit). We have yet to make a fire but will do so soon.

Our simple lives of good food, wildlife watching and interacting, good music, good movies and TV series to stream, laughter, and fun among ourselves and others. It couldn’t be more pleasant. But, others often ask if we’d be happier in a home of our own, whether abroad or in the US.

Zoom in to see these stone benches by the braai, the perfect place to sit when there’s a bonfire.

Our answer is always the same, as long as we are healthy enough to move at our discretion to anywhere we choose outside the US, that provides us with enough adventure and stimulation, we will continue to strive to travel the world. As some new world travelers do for the first few years, the concept of being on the move all the time is unappealing to us.

Now that it’s winter, we’ll certainly use this excellent outdoor heater. We’ve already used it a few times on very chilly evenings.

Remember the number of flights, hotels, and venues we experienced going to the US over a month ago? Of course, it was more difficult having Covid most of the time, but even so, we’ve always preferred to live in a country for four months or more. We are kind of going overboard now, staying in South Africa for so long. Still, the pandemic has taught us a few lessons about losing money from canceled bookings, exposure to the virus, and the difficulty of travel until things improve.

A little hand-carved wooden table in the shape of an elephant.

When that happens, we’ll be excited to explore more. But, we certainly have some booked adventures on the horizon, including our upcoming trip in less than two months to Zambia and Botswana and, of course, the exciting 42-night cruise from Athens to Cape Town beginning in only a little over four months.

I couldn’t recall if we’d already posted a photo of our outdoor refrigerator, secured by a monkey-proof handle and latch. Monkeys are clever, but they can’t figure this one out.

Indeed, these adventures are more than we’d ever considered in our own lives. But, the magic of our current daily lives, living in the bush, is compelling enough in itself. After all, people from all over the world come to Marloth Park for their one big holiday/vacation of the year, and we are blessed to be here, reveling in the wonders of the bush, its wildlife, its unusual experiences, and its people. All magical.

A hand-crafted outdoor light. A beaded gecko adorns it.

Since I began today’s post, it’s started raining. We moved the laundry rack further under the veranda and have moved indoors to sit at the dining room table. We’re at Stage 4 load shedding today, and the power was supposed to go out a half-hour ago, but it hasn’t happened. Go figure. It’s the nature of the beast. TIA.

There are two hanging lamps on the veranda, one over the bar and the other over the table.
This stand attached to a post is for placing food for bushbabies and bird seeds for our flying friends.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, June 27, 2021:

Rita, Gerhard, and Tom were situated in our chairs, ready for the evening to commence. For more photos, please click here.

Part 2…Photos of “things” in our holiday home…

Hand-carved wooden giraffes are on a shelf in the lounge room.

We had fun last night, just the two of us, listening to oldies during sundowners on the veranda, greeting our regular wildlife visitors, and later savoring a delicious homemade low-carb meal. After the power went off due to load shedding, we headed to the bedroom to begin watching the 50-year-old movie, The Godfather.

In most cases, when we watch an old movie, I remember most of it, but for some odd reason, I couldn’t remember the details of The Godfather. Tom recalled seeing all of it, but he’d also read the book in 1972. It was a great movie we were inspired to watch again after watching the Prime Video series, The Offer. As mentioned in an earlier post, the incredible story of the making of The Godfather. It’s well worth watching all of this.

Sign in the lounge room.

We’ll watch Part II of The Godfather tonight, and if done early enough, we’ll watch Part III. It’s fun to hunker down on a fantastic, cloudy evening and get wrapped up in some fine streaming. We finished watching the fabulous Outlander, so The Godfather is an excellent, engaging next step.

Many people in Marloth Park are significant users of Netflix, which we also have. We use Express VPN  to enable us to stream the US and worldwide shows at our leisure. Without that, we’d be restricted to streaming only those shows available to South Africans, which is limited.

Another message promoting positivity, befitting our lifestyle.

The WiFi works during power outages, enabling us to stream the movie from Amazon’s Prime Video at no extra charge. However, each time the power goes out and comes back on, the WiFi goes out for about five minutes, often requiring us to reboot our laptops to restore it. We are so grateful that we have WiFi during outages; we are certainly not complaining.

Today is another quiet cloudy day. Load shedding started a few minutes ago, but we are fine on the veranda, waiting to see who will visit us today. Through the next month, there will be plenty of tourists in Marloth Park, resulting in fewer animal visits. But, we are fine, knowing our regulars will surely stop by.

Another upbeat message in the dining room.

We currently have two Big Daddies, eight impalas, and our girl Lollie, a sweet lonely warthog. Tom tossed some pellets, which they were all enjoying, including the impala herd patriarch, who was anxious to get in on the action.  Right now, one of the Big Daddies is tearing down branches on some dry trees with his massive horns. They often do this to reach the greener and tastier vegetation on the upper branches of trees.

When load shedding ends in about an hour, I will be able to finish the laundry. I’d forgotten about the outage, and wouldn’t you know; load shedding started during the wash cycle. The clothes won’t be dry by the time we go indoors for the night so Tom will pull the laundry rack into the house. Since it’s so cool, they won’t dry indoors overnight, and tomorrow morning, we will haul the clothes rack back outside to finish drying.

A painting of succulents in the upstairs lounge room.

Yesterday, I made enough dinner for tonight as well. This morning, I made a big salad so dinner would be easy. There’s not much we have to do today other than handle the laundry situation, prepare the finishing touches on dinner and relax and enjoy ourselves. We love days and nights like this!

Toppling teacups in the kitchen.
Teacups in the kitchen.

Enjoy the remainder of our decorator items photos from the house’s interior. Tomorrow, we’ll share pictures of the exterior items.

Have a great Sunday, wherever you may be!

Photo from one year ago today, June 26, 2021:

Although blurry and without showing his head, Tom captured this photo of Charlie, the crocodile who resides in Marloth Park along the river. For more photos, please click here.

Part 1…Photos of “things” in our holiday home…

In the second-level lounge room. I love what this says!

A reality of living in holiday homes and hotels year-round is that the decor is not our own. In South Africa, a predominantly African set is commonplace, especially in homes in the bush. I suppose if we owned a home here, which we never will, there is no doubt we’d probably do the same.

In the kitchen.

It would look ridiculous to decorate a home in the bush with anything other than an African theme. However, some houses with early colonial and Dutch-influenced furnishings and fixtures were very appealing. The following historical facts influenced South African decor:

In the second-level lounge room.

“The two European countries which occupied the land were the Netherlands (1652-1795 and 1803-1806) and Great Britain (1795-1803 and 1806-1961).”

“What is the Dutch style of interior design?”

Dutch design focuses on minimalism, functionalism, and innovative yet simplistic designs. But what truly sets Dutch design apart is its focus on the designers. The designers that create this beautiful and modern home decor are integral to the entire development and production process.”

Above the headboard in the main bedroom.
“British style is loved because its austere elegance, classic luxury, high quality materials, the presence of many decorative elements, and is an example of elegance and good taste in its best form example of elegance and good taste. But, to recreate it in its entirety, it will take a significant investment.”
The lounge room is on the second level under the thatch roof.
As we’ve learned over the 3½ years we’ve spent in Africa in the past almost ten years, the wealth and abundance seen in the US are not necessarily seen in this country. Sure, there is a wealthy faction, but overall, the South African people living in bush houses are on a budget and strive to create as pleasant an environment as possible, at a cost they can afford.
In the second-floor lounge room.
The decor in this bush house is not unlike others we’ve seen in Marloth Park, containing many decorator items that depict the nature and beauty of the bush and also an upbeat and optimistic ambiance. Today, we have the opportunity to share our surroundings with our readers that depict that persona.
Bespeaks African art.
Please remember that today, when I took these photos, it was a dark and dreary day. Windows are kept to a  minimum when houses are built here to keep out the monkeys and potential burglars. Using flash caused unpleasant reflections, so I did the best I could.
In the second-floor lounge room.
It’s funny how I overlooked the items shown in today’s photos after living in this house for over a month. We’ve been so busy noticing the inclusion of many things we love to use and watching the activity in the garden we’ve hardly paid attention to the decor.
In the second-floor lounge room.
Instead, we ask ourselves…Is the bed comfortable? Yes! Is the shower good? Yes! Do we have all the kitchen gadgets we need to cook our favorite meals? Yes! Does the WiFi work? Yes! (Most of the time). Do we have a good security system? Yes! We notice these things during the first month of living in a new holiday home. As time passes, we pay more attention to the little details, such as those we’re sharing today.
The interior thatched roof as seen in the second-floor lounge.
Last night, as always, we had a fantastic dinner and social time at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant. But, by 2000 hrs., 8:00 pm were back at our house. There was load shedding, so we hunkered down on top of the bed and watched a few more episodes of “The Offer,” the excellent show on Amazon Prime about making the movie “The Godfather.”
The table and chairs are on the second-level veranda.
We’ll watch the last episode of The Offer, and we’ve decided to watch the actual movie, which neither of us had seen again since we watched it in a movie theatre when it was released in 1972. This will be a great way to spend Saturday night!
The hooks in the main floor lounge room where I hang my two Africa bags.
We hope you have a great Saturday night, whatever you choose to do. Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, June 25, 2021:

This is so typical for Broken Horn. He peeks around the house to see if we’re outside. He always makes us laugh! For more photos, please click here.

Figuring out credits from canceled cruises…How much was Tom’s dental surgery today?…

Wildebeests, zebras and warthogs in the garden.

I won’t get into all the convoluted particulars regarding the confusion on when and how we’ll get refunds and credits for canceled cruises we’ve booked in the past few years during the pandemic. Most travelers book one cruise, and it’s nowhere near as confusing as to when we’ve booked seven or eight, many of which have canceled after collecting our final payments.

Hmmm…I wonder why they don’t cancel them before we make the final payment. Are the cruise lines in such a dire financial situation that they need the “float” of our money for three or four months until they get on their feet? That’s a harsh reality and frustration for world travelers like us, who book several cruises over a year or two.

That’s wildebeest Bad Ear looking at me.

In almost ten years of world travel, we’ve sailed on 27 cruises, few of which we ever canceled. If there were cancellations, there were precipitated by the cruise line for one reason or another. In our case, we may have moved several bookings to future dates before the final payments were due to satisfy the needs of our upcoming itinerary. Still, none of these incurred any penalties or refunds.

With the war in Ukraine and the pandemic, we’re seeing some of the cruises we booked making changes we didn’t request, and now we’re struggling to get our money back consistently and seamlessly. Often, a small amount appears as a credit on a credit card we used to pay for a cruise. We never know which one it is without calling Costco, being on hold for an hour, and often holding on the line for another 45 minutes while Costco Travel calls the cruise line to get it figured out.

Tom was checking out Bad Ear after he jumped the fence to get closer to us.

We don’t blame Costco Travel. The long hold is the only issue we have with them. But, the perks they offer as an incentive to their customers are well worth the inconvenience of continuing to work with them. The refund issues are not their doing. That’s entirely up to the cruise line.

When we think about how much money we’ve lost due to the pandemic, it’s in the thousands. This was no one’s fault. It was the nature of the dreadful virus, and many lost money on travel-related expenditures, wages, and business revenue. When we were in the US, we couldn’t believe how many small and medium-sized businesses have failed due to these tough economic times.

Bossy often jumps the fence to remind us she is here.

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on most of us in one way or another. Now, we are all faced with rising fuel prices, let alone the cost of living in most areas worldwide.

At this point, we have a few airlines holding credits for us that won’t provide us with a refund. We have no idea if and when we’ll ever be able to use those credits. All of these losses certainly have impacted our budget, and we’ll proceed cautiously to ensure we remain vigilant and maintain control of our expenses.

In the interim, we’re happy to be in South Africa, where the cost of living is considerably less overall than in many countries. Tom just spent an hour in the dentist’s chair having dental surgery for his implants and the total bill for that hour was ZAR 1266, US $79.78, as shown in the statement below.

Tom’s dental surgery bill for today was ZAR 1266, US $79.78.

After the appointment, he headed to the pharmacy for three medications due to the surgery, including antibiotics, non-narcotic painkillers, and probiotics, which are always prescribed with antibiotics in South Africa. The total pharmacy bill was ZAR 424.05, US $26.71, as shown in another photo below. Where would we pay so little for this amount of service and products? Nowhere that we know.

Tom’s pharmacy bill, ZAR 424.05, US $26.71.

As “they” say,…it all comes out in the wash. We’ll continue to stay on top of the credits we’re due for the cruises via more phone calls and diligence, ensuring everything is accurate.

Have a delightful weekend!

Photo from one year ago today, June 24, 2021:

A red-backed shrike was sitting atop Rita’s hat while we were at Two Trees. For more photos, please click here.

All day power outage…Making the best of an annoying situation…

When Medium Daddy saw that Tom had placed pellets on the railing instead of on the ground and didn’t want to eat them with the pigs at his heels, he jumped over the fence onto the veranda to eat in peace. Clever animals.

We’re pretty lucky. Like most people in South Africa, we could suffer the inconvenience during load shedding when the power company, Eskom, turns off the power nationwide during designated periods. But, we are grateful and fortunate to have many systems to alleviate the hassle.

There’s an app available at most download sites that informs the user when to expect power outages. But, this information is inaccurate about 25% of the time. It will say there is a scheduled outage in our area, and it doesn’t occur, or it will appear there are no anticipated outages, and we’re out all day. That was yesterday. The power went out about 11:00 am and didn’t return until about 1900 hrs., 7:00 pm, eight hours later.

We named this male warthog Tusker due to his large tusks, a name we’d given to another male with big tusks years ago.

After the first few hours passed and the power hadn’t returned, Tom loaded the big metal bowl with ice and placed it on the middle shelf in the refrigerator. This method keeps the perishables fresh as long as that ice doesn’t melt substantially. We buy ice and refill the bowl as needed during extended periods beyond one day. The refrigerator becomes a giant cool box (cooler).

There’s a difference between load shedding and power outages. Load shedding is a plan to shut down the power supply to save on resources. Different areas in the country experience other times and different levels, from one to eight, determining which times of day the power will be out and how many times in any upcoming 24-hour period how long the power will be out.

Six warthogs in the garden including Lollie, Mom and Babies, and others. No Little yet.

As for outages, they result from equipment issues at various power stations, often caused by theft, vandalism, and breakdowns. These happen many times each year. The general public has no say or control over when these are repaired. Calling to complain has no impact whatsoever. Often Eskom has trouble obtaining replacement parts which delays the repairs exponentially.

The fact that we have an inverter makes life easier during load shedding our outages. It’s not as powerful as a generator but is quiet, self-starting, and recharges off the electricity in the house when power is available.  We can charge our equipment, stream shows since the WiFi router stays on, and keep a lamp on in the bedroom. Having something to do during outages is helpful. Watching a movie or streaming a series makes the time pass without us noticing the outage.

Big Daddy stopped by at sunset.

However, yesterday, for about an hour, there was no WiFi to the towers in the area due to the outage. There is nothing we can do about that. But, as mentioned a few days ago, we have over 1000 movies on an external hard drive allowing us to watch movies as long as our laptops are charged. Before and during outages, we pay special attention to how much battery life is left on our phones and laptops.

Now that we have a third laptop, my old Chromebook with 12-hour battery life, we make a point of keeping it charged, just in case.

Sure, the house is dark at night during outages. We prefer to be indoors at night during outages since we can’t see what’s going on in the garden anyway. Plus, it may not be safe to be outside in the dark in the case of a potential burglary or visit by a lion. Our security system works during outages since it is connected to long-lasting batteries, which give us peace of mind at night in the dark or not.

Bossy is too pretty for words and loves to get close to us.

We have two handheld lanterns that we also keep charged. Last night, Tom did dishes in the dark, but the lantern helped make it possible. I use one of the lanterns before bed to take out and clean my contact lenses, wash my face and brush my teeth. That works.

The biggest concern is always that the power returns before we lose food in the refrigerator or freezer or if the inverter runs out of control, which can happen after a 24-hour outage. Otherwise, we make the best of the situation and are very grateful for the systems we have in place. After all, as “they” say, TIA, “This is Africa,” and accepting and managing the annoyances is a part of the reality of living in this unique environment.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, June 23, 2021:

We spotted this giraffe on our way to Two Trees to meet up with friends. For more photos, please click here.

Rainy day, perfect for the vegetation in the bush…Excellent car rental news…

Check out these wonderful white markings on Noah, the young nyala.

Today, it’s raining. But, it’s a steady soaking rain which is ideal compared to heavy rains that would run off. The animals are hunkered down under the trees, waiting for it to end. Little do they know how crucial this rain is to provide them with much-needed nourishment.

We can’t possibly provide sufficient food to satisfy all their needs by offering pellets. Pellets are a treat, although healthy, made from vegetation suitable for varied species. All the wildlife eats them, except for the carnivores such as mongooses, genets, wild dogs, lions, leopards, etc., who continually search for meat in one form or another.

When I first stepped outside this morning, Lollie was sitting in her usual spot waiting for her pellet breakfast before the rain started. I didn’t hesitate for a moment to fill up the four-cup measuring cup with pellets and toss them her way. In only one or two minutes, 12 kudus joined the feast, including moms, babies, and a few Big Daddies.

Norman, the dad nyala, also has beautiful white markings across his nose.

Tom was taking a shower, and the five-gallon bucket of pellets we keep in the house was empty. The 40 kg, 88 pounds bags of pellets are located in the store room across the driveway and are too heavy for me to lift to refill the bucket. With no pellets left in the bucket to tender to the impatient kudus, I grabbed a few packages of celery, lettuce, and carrots from the fridge.

I quickly cut several carrots into bite-sized pieces and cleaned up a few heads of iceberg lettuce and two bunches of celery. They love the scraps. Within five minutes, I was back on the veranda, tossing all the goodies to them. They couldn’t have been more excited to see the vegetable scraps hit the ground.

Then, I remembered that a container of grape tomatoes had become too ripe for our liking, so I grabbed that container from the fridge and tossed the entire container. Wow! They sure loved them. Most vegetables except corn are acceptable for the animals to eat. The birds can eat corn. Nor can the animals eat bread, chips, sweets, and human snacks and treats.

The nyala family stops by once again.

Unfortunately, many tourists will feed the animals their leftovers. Sure, they like the taste of human food, but they are not healthy for them, even foods we may consider to be healthful. Most of the animals in Marloth Park are used to consuming the indigenous, naturally occurring vegetation typical in the African bush.

We’d considered going to Kruger National Park today, but with the rain and how most of the wildlife stay undercover when it’s raining, there was no point in going. Instead, we’ll stay in, working on various projects we’ve started online while enjoying this quiet day together, as we often do.

Bossy comes up to the door looking for me. She did the same at the old house.

This morning, we received an email from the car rental company we’re using in Nelspruit for the little blue car. Tomorrow, the 30-day rental expires, and it was expected that Tom would return the vehicle to sign a new contract. With all the car-jackings, spiking, and crime on the N4 Highway, we were more concerned about driving on that road than we had to. The three-hour turnaround to return the car is worrisome.

Thus, today, we could extend the contract until July 23 over the phone, avoiding the necessity of the long drive. The price was a little less than we’d paid for the first month so that we couldn’t be more thrilled. They sent us a contract extension document with the adjusted lower price, and we’re good for now. Hopefully, in July, they will extend it until August 20 when we fly to Zambia.

Handsome Big Daddy.

Currently, we are without power. We have no way of knowing if it’s due to load shedding or a result of the rain. We had no WiFi for about an hour, but now that has resumed. We’re in good shape if the power doesn’t continue for a while since the inverter is running to keep our laptops and phones charged.

Since I have two laptops, both charged, and Tom has one, if the inverter runs out, we can use one of our laptops to watch movies on the external hard drive that Rita and Gerhard gave me for my birthday last February. Gerhard had installed over 1000 movies on the hard drive, so we’ll have plenty to keep us busy when and if we’re in the dark tonight.

Have a great day!

Photo from one year ago today, June 22, 2022:

Poor little male bushbuck got caught up in some roots he was digging up. Too cute for words. We later named him Stringy, and he’s found us here at this new house. For more photos, please click here.

It’s the first day of winter…The winter solstice…

My favorite kudu, Bossy, from the old house.

Here are a few tidbits of information about the winter solstice in South Africa:

“When it is the winter solstice on 21 June in South Africa over what line of latitude is the sun directly overhead?
The Tropic of Capricorn
The sun’s rays are directly overhead along the Tropic of Capricorn (the latitude line at 23.5° south, passing through Brazil, South Africa, and Australia) on December 21.
Kudu family.
Which Month Has The Shortest Days In South Africa? On Tuesday, June 21, 2022, Cape Town will witness the solstice (the winter solstice). In comparison to the December solstice, here is a 4-hour and 32-minute shorter day of the year. The shortest day is on this date in locations south of the equator.”

It’s odd for us Northern Hemisphere people to wrap our brains around the fact that the winter solstice begins today, June 21st. Of the past ten years of world travel, we’ve spent five of the summer solstice in the Southern Hemisphere, experiencing this peculiar sensation of winter beginning in June.

When Bad Ear walks along the dirt road, as soon as I call him, he makes a sharp turn and comes to visit. It only took him a few days to learn the sound of my voice and his name.

I suppose it’s all about what one is used to for most of their life. But, after all these years, it’s not unusual for us to experience the beginning of winter in June. But, the fact that winter begins in June in South Africa doesn’t mean that we are free for an extended period of the hot summer months when winter is short. In a matter of only three or four months, the temperatures will climb, and it will become hot again, and the insects, including mosquitoes, will be back among us.

However, we will savor each day of comfortable weather over the next three or four months. I will still need to wear repellent as I am right now, to deter the stings from chiggers, sand fleas, and pepper ticks. It’s not unheard of to see a few mosquitos this time of year.

Impalas and Lollie.

When we lived in Minnesota, the summer was short. It didn’t warm up much until May or June; by August and September, we could feel the temperatures dropping as we’d rolled into fall. Often, by November, we had snow.

This morning is a little warmer than the past few mornings. We kicked off the extra covers when the bedroom warmed up at night. This morning, for the first time in weeks, we’re outdoors on the veranda without additional layers. Both of us are wearing shirts without long sleeves. It’s a beautiful day in the bush.

Big Daddies and impalas.

Soon, we head to Komatipoort to get our teeth cleaned at Komati Dental, next door to Dr. Theo’s office. While here, we’ll often have a cleaning every three months. The cost of the cleaning is 75% less than in the US, typical for most medical services. No dental insurance is needed here.

In a few days, we’ll book the appointment for Tom for the final step in his dental implants after having two teeth pulled about six months ago. He’ll be relieved to have this done since the gaping hole is obvious whenever he smiles. He’ll return to Dr. Singh, the dental surgeon in Malalane, about a 35-minute drive from here, who initially pulled the teeth and placed the foundation for the implants.

This is a good-sized hadada bird that’s been hanging around the garden.

After our teeth cleanings, we’ll stop at the pharmacy and Spar to pick up a few items. This way, we won’t have to shop again until next week. We have taco meat left over from last night, so tonight, we’ll have one of our favorite dinners, homemade taco salad. We don’t use the carb-laden shell. We load up diced tomatoes, sliced green olives, chopped purple onion, hand-grated cheddar cheese, seasoned meat, and lettuce into big bowls. I add sour cream and sliced avocados to my salad.

I make the spice mix for the meat from scratch, which doesn’t have added chemicals, starch, and wheat found in store-bought taco seasoning mix, which, surprisingly, they sell here. Spar Market has a small supply of ingredients for various ethnic recipes. The spices are plentiful, so I have no problem making the seasonings. If you’d like the recipe for the spice mix, please comment, and I will post it.

Time to walk again before we head out. We’ll be back with more tomorrow.

Have a pleasant day!

Photo from one year ago today, June 21, 2021:

For the first time, gray louries pecked at Frank’s seeds. For more photos, please click here.

It was a lovely Father’s Day in the bush…The animals are already back!!!…Check out today’s new video, taken moments ago!…

This morning, they returned from the busy holiday weekend.  The animals, I mean. As I type this, there is a forkl of kudus, two Medium Daddies whose horns are halfway to full-grown, three moms, and three babies, one of which can’t be more than a few weeks old.

Also, a herd of impalas joined in on the excitement, and in moments, we had 20 or more animals in the garden, inspiring me to make the above video. It’s such fun for us to see so many wildlife in the garden. We never tire of greeting the latest to arrive.

Lollie is munching on pellets with them. The animals have become used to her being a permanent fixture in our garden, allowing her to “dine” with them. She’s a little bossy also, never failing to let the other visitors know, “this is my house!” It’s hilarious that she is here almost all day and night.

Last evening, during sundowner time, the mongooses arrived, cackling, running like crazy, ensuring we knew they were here. The band of about 50 crazy little critters piled atop one another in the side garden, waiting patiently while I cut the paloney (a large baloney type roll we buy at Spar) into bite-sized pieces, ensuring enough for all of them.

We had a pleasant Father’s Day!. No, we didn’t do much since the park was packed with tourists, and we didn’t want to deal with the Crocodile River crowds. or the groups on the bumpy dirt roads, but today, it’s quiet again since most of them had left. The school holidays will begin in a few weeks, and it will be busy, maybe for the entire three weeks.

Something has been on my mind about our posts the past few days. We’ve mentioned this in the past and will repeat it here today. Sometimes, nothing is going on to write about. After almost ten years of living in other people’s houses, visiting all seven continents, countless countries, cities, towns and villages, and hotels, we sometimes like doing nothing.

That’s not to say we don’t have many exciting plans. But, without a doubt, the pandemic has significantly impacted us. Thousands of flights were canceled worldwide last week. Cruises are being canceled right and left. Prices for transportation, including airfare, rental cars, taxis, and Uber, have skyrocketed. Even the cost of living in Africa has

Some world travelers are on the move right now, certainly more frequently than we have been in the past few months. But considering how much we did in the two months we were away from Marloth Park, we feel a break is in order.  Also, we consider  the time spent in booking the following, which also contributes to our desire to stay put for a while:

  • Flights: 4 trips, 9 flights
  • Cruise: 1 (plus canceled 1 cruise due to contracting Covid-19 on the first cruise)
  • Transatlantic crossings: 4
  • Hotels (plus one period staying with friends): 6
  • Long distance driver, taxi, Ube, limo: 5
  • Rental cars: 4

In two months from today, we’ll be on the move again as we make our way to Zambia and then on to Botswana where we’ll stay for a week with many bookings required for that trip.

But, in between times, especially considering all the problems still encountered due to the pandemic, and the difficulty we encountered in those two months, we don’t hesitate to take advantage of this quieter time. As a result, sometimes, we have little to share.

We think about how dull it would be if we lived in a country without the constant stream of wildlife at our door, after we’d done a fair share of sightseeing and taking photos, as we’ve done in many countries worldwide. Right now, we are happiest here.

Also, we don’t forget that in five months, we’ll be off on another six-plus week adventure while we cruise for 42 nights from Athens to Cape Town. We won’t be short of any photos to share and stories to tell. So, in the interim, please bear with us with our mundane stories and lack of exciting new photos. Yesterday, we posted a recipe. Who knows what we’ll post tomorrow other than photos of wildlife and the nuances of our daily lives?

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, June 20, 2021:

We had set Frank’s seeds on the table to keep the warthogs and bushbucks from coming onto the veranda to eat them. Suddenly four hornbills decided to dig in. For more photos, please click here.

Quiet in the bush…Longevity…how do we attain it?…

Beautiful female bushbuck jumped the fence to enter the garden close to the house.

It’s cool. It’s quiet. Every half hour I get up from my seat on the veranda and walk, walk, walk. It’s boring and tedious but I know I must do it, for my heart, to extend my life, to stay fit and agile to enable us to continue traveling the world.

Fast approaching 75 years old, I wonder how much control I actually have over extending my life considering the precarious cardiovascular disease I possess, acquired from heredity, certainly not my lifestyle. From the time I was 16 years old, having seen family members die from heart disease and diabetes, I went on a rampage of exercising and eating a healthy diet. And yet, it didn’t save me from developing cardiovascular disease. But it may have kept me alive.

This is our favorite new warthog, Lollie, since her tusks are lopsided. She spends most of her days and nights in our garden. She already knows her name and comes when we call her.

However, like all of us,  we have stress in our day-to-day lives, and as a single mom, breadwinner, and business owner, I had my share. There was no escaping it. Now, I have little stress, living this blissful life, barring a few obstacles along the way.

If happiness results in a long life of good health, we should live until well into our 100s. I have this cardiovascular situation, but I know many who’ve had the surgery and have gone on to live long and full lives. I hang onto that hope, trying not to spend any  time thinking about having a heart attack, stroke or even another surgery. The worry alone could result in enough stress to impact the outcome. I choose not to go down that road.

Yet to be named baby bushbuck.

But, even with perfect health at 75, one’s days might be numbered. For me, it’s not about fear. It’s about passion for continuing to live this beautiful life with my loving partner, husband, and friend. I couldn’t ask for more. Nor could I ask for more meaning and purpose in our day-to-day lives.

Unabashedly, I admit that writing here daily is highly instrumental in enhancing the quality of our lives. Why is this the case? For many reasons, some are hard to explain. In part, it’s the magical process of seeing our lives in print each day. Who does that? We whine, cajole, praise, and critique everything we encounter along the way. This is therapeutic in a manner that is difficult to explain. It reduces stress once we have an opportunity to write it down.

Mom and baby bushbuck and perhaps an auntie or older sibling.

Often psychologists and therapists suggest patients write down their feelings and experiences. Could the benefit of this often prescribed undertaking have an impact on our lives as well? Being vulnerable and documenting our flaws and foibles provides a sense of reality that makes us look hard at ourselves and how we can improve as individuals and as a couple.

The profound sense of inclusion and support is a natural by-product of our daily postings. When I wrote about the chigger bites, countless readers wrote with suggestions. In one’s life, do they have such a pool of opinions from which to glean information? For us, it’s only a click away.

Kudus eating pellets in the garden.

We have a lot to learn. That will never change. But, learning in the senior years has been proven to add to longevity, mental acuity, and good health. Our lives are abundant in learning. Every single day we research information about our surroundings wherever we may be in the world.

You’d think after so much time in Africa; we’d fulfilled our desires for knowledge about this continent, its people, its cultures, and its wildlife. We haven’t experienced or learned more than a grain of sand on 100 miles of beach compared to what we could know after spending decades on the continent.

A young female kudu checks us out.

The secrets to longevity from the medical community are fraught with conflicting opinions, studies, confusion, and uncertainty. Eat this, eat that. Drink this, drink that. Red wine is good; red wine is bad. Oh, good grief. We are left to our knowledge and perceptions on what will benefit us in the long haul. And once we’re gone…well, we’ll have no perception then.

So, what do we do? For us, we consider our genetics and proceed from there. We implement that which makes us “feel well” and healthy. But, in reality, it may be as simple as “when your number is up, your number is up.” Perhaps it boils down to the quality of life. What does it take to make us feel good, living one day at a time? What does it take to feel content, fulfilled, and ultimately happy? Do that, not something else.

Be well. Be happy.

Photo from one year ago today, June 18, 2021:

Tiny and Bossy were waiting for treats. For more photos, please click here.