Lovely evening on the veranda with great friends, good food and Mother Nature…

It was 4:00 am when our regular genet appeared in the garden sitting atop of a rock observing these two female bushbucks.

The weather was ideal, the guests were cheerful and enthused to be at our bush home, and the food, wine, and conversation flowed with ease. Rita, Gerhard, Rita’s sister Petra and brother-in-law Fritz joined us at the table on the veranda for snacks with beverages at sundowner time, beginning at 4:30 pm, 1630 hrs, followed by dinner a few hours later.

All of us stuffed from dinner. After the main course, we waited for about an hour to serve dessert, the chocolate cake I’d made in the morning, with photos in yesterday’s post found here. The low-carb cake was delicious and another treat we appreciated after it was only recently that I’d baked a few cakes, having missed desserts for quite some time.

We turned on the music between dinner and dessert using our JBL Essential Bluetooth speaker, which sounds almost as good as any major sound system. We sent my phone around the table for each of us to say, “Hey Google, play _ _ _ _ _, on YouTube.”

Young kudu male stops by, standing on the veranda to get our attention. We tossed pellets out into the garden to avoid getting too close to those growing horns.

We’d each speak our favorite song on the phone, and it was fun to hear what each of us chose. There certainly was a wide array of music, in part cultural, with our four guests from Germany (although Rita and Gerhard have lived in the US for over 30 years). Tom and I each chose oldies, his more geared toward rock and roll and mine, from the disco period in the late 70s and early 80s. It was great fun.

At one point, Rita and Petra danced to a favorite song from their OctoberFest days. It was delightful to see their favorite cultural dance. Ironically, in yesterday’s post, I’d mentioned cultural dances we’ve observed and enjoyed worldwide over the years and most assuredly enjoy in years to come, health providing, and we’re able to continue.

This warthog stopped by who’d recently had an injury to his left wart. It could have happened in several incidents with other animals.

As always, after dinner, Tom insisted on handling all the dishes, requiring that he load and empty the dishes twice and wash a variety of pots and pans. It helped that we’d all carried the plates and dishes indoors, but, still, he had his hands full for a few hours after our guest left, slightly before 10:00 pm, 2200 hrs.

On and off, throughout the evening, we were entertained by many of our favorite wildlife visitors who weren’t put off at all by our loud banter and not too loud music. We are far from any other houses at our current location and are never concerned we’re disturbing neighbors.

Tom just finished his leftovers while I am munching on the leftover salad and vegetables, cooked green beans, and sugar snap peas. We’d made individual low-carb pot pies and had saved the thick lids used to cover the tin foil pans. After dinner, we passed around the lids and a pen so everyone could write their name on their corresponding leftovers and take them home for today’s lunch.

We just missed a good photo of this monitor lizard.

We won’t eat again until dinner tonight at Jabula, where the six of us will meet up for dinner, which will undoubtedly be another fun evening. We enjoy our busy social life, which will continue after Petra and Fritz return to Germany. Several other friends will be arriving in Marloth Park in the next few weeks, and the social activities will ramp up from here.

We’re pleased to share another sighting of our usual genet from our trail cam, as shown in the main photo. What a joy it has been to see our favorite nocturnal animals these past many weeks, as well as the frequent daytime visitors that continue to entertain and amaze us.

May you have a pleasant day, evening, and weekend.

Photo from one year ago today, January 22, 2021:

There are no less than three mating pairs of francolins in our garden. In a short time after our arrival to Marloth Park, we named this francolin Frank, along with his partner, The Misses. For more, please click here.

Company coming for dinner!…Busy day…Unbelievable sighting last night…Photos from our camera…

Last night, Tom spotted the porcupine at the edge of the veranda. We were shocked when it didn’t run away when we opened the door and the screen, allowing me to take these three photos. What a thrill!

Tom often says, “You bite off more than you can chew,” especially when it comes to entertaining. He says this when he sees me running around like a “whirling dervish.” For the first time, I looked up the definition of a whirling dervish, and this is what I found:

“A dervish is a Muslim of a particular religious order. They are known for their worship rituals which require the dervish to spin very fast, causing his clothing to fan out in a circle. … To call something a whirling dervish is to say that object or person resembles a spinning top or is wild in its movement.”
We saw such a dance at one point in our travels, most likely on a cruise ship, and it was delightful to watch. No offense intended, by any means. Can I say this? We’ve observed many cultural dances throughout the world and haven’t ever considered our observance of these rituals offensive to any parties, including those performing those rituals. That’s part of the wonder of this fantastic world we live in.
We were so excited to see her we had to hold back our squeals.
These days, I do less multi-tasking and spend more time focusing on one task at a time when cooking, either for guests or for us. Perhaps in the future, Tom should say I’m like a “spinning top” when preparing for a dinner party or even a less work-intensive sundowner event. I must admit I am.
We’d invited Louise and Danie to tonight’s dinner, but he’s been sick with some virus. Whether it’s Omicron or not, they’ve decided to stay away, just in case since he hadn’t been tested. One can’t be too cautious these days, and we appreciate their staying away, just in case. But Louise isn’t sick, so it may not be Omicron since it’s so infectious, and surely by now, several days later, she’d have been infected.
Since I’d made the entrees for eight this morning, on our way to the little market for cream, we dropped off two servings of the low-carb chicken pot pie at Louise and Danie’s house, each in individual serving containers. At least they can relax and have a leisurely dinner by adding a salad.
After watching her for about 10 minutes, she wandered off into the bush. The trail camera didn’t catch her visit, but our camera did the trick.
The result is we’ll only have a party of six tonight, starting with sundowners and light snacks at 4:30 pm, 1630 hrs, with dinner served a few hours later. Of course, I couldn’t resist baking another low-carb cake, this time a two-layer chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, decorated with sugar-free coconut candies and unsweetened coconut flakes.
If the cake is tasty, we will post the recipe tomorrow. Right now, I am waiting for the two layers to cool. I wonder how I’m going to fit the frosted cake in the refrigerator, packed with food for tonight’s dinner. I’m sure I’ll figure it out. See the photo below for the cake.
This is today’s low-carb cake for tonight’s dinner party.
I made the dough for the pot pies yesterday. Soon, I will roll the dough into the 72 little puffs. All I have left to prep for the main meal after I frost and decorate the cake is to make the green salad, salad dressing and set the table on the veranda. Before baking the pot pies, I’ll top each of the six servings with  12 little low-carb dumplings that I have yet to form into their shapes.
Today, the temperature isn’t too high, but the humidity is awful, so from time to time, I’ll take a break and head into the bedroom to cool off for 10 minutes at a time, turning on the aircon. If time allows, I’ll get my walking done but, today, I may get in enough steps from running around like a spinning top.
I hope your day and evening are filled with good food, good friends, or even a good book if that’s on the agenda. Be well.

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

Cute banded mongoose using a tree stump to pose for a photo. For more photos, please click here.

Another busy day in the bush…Final Kruger photos…

A hornbill sitting atop a bush.

We are relieved the immigration application has been submitted. Now we wait to hear what transpires in the next 60 days. If we aren’t approved, we’ll have to leave in seven days. We’re optimistic that we’ll be approved. We continue to read about Celebrity Cruises canceling. So far, our April 8 cruise is staying in place.

Today is a busy day. Our eye doctor appointment is at noon, followed by vaccine boosters at the Spar Market. I don’t know how I feel about getting a booster outside a supermarket. But, it was the only nearby option for the J & J booster. We need to get this done.

A yellow-billed stork on a branch.

After both of those events, we’ll grocery shop at Spar with a comprehensive list for Friday evening’s dinner at our place. Rita, Gerhard, Petra, and Fritz are coming for dinner. Louise and Danie may join us if Danie’s feeling better by then since he’s currently under the weather. We have a good menu planned and will share details later.

Vusi and Zef are here now, cleaning the house. The mechanism for the master bath toilet has been acting up for a few days. This morning, Louise went to Komati to get the parts for the boys to replace the inner workings today. It’s been making a squealing noise with the water running constantly. We did the usual “jiggle the handle” thing and even looked inside to see if an adjustment would help.

Vultures, on the lookout, for possible prey.

Toilet parts are different here than in the US, so neither of us knew how to fix it. Plus, there was no shut-off valve under the toilet. Tom, hard of hearing, couldn’t hear the squeal all night long. It was one of those sounds out of his range of hearing. Luckily, last night I was tired enough that I was able to sleep through the noise with the aircon and the fan on.

It’s a beautiful day. The humidity is lower than usual, with the temperature now at 84F, 29C, perfect with the light breeze. It’s a welcomed relief after weeks of high heat and excessive humidity, causing us to swear constantly. Doing my fast walking the past few weeks has been a challenge in the heat. Today will be easier.

The walking is going well. I am up to 6000 steps a day, 4.8 km, 3 miles, adding more each week. After being relatively inactive compared to how I was in India, walking 8 km, 5 miles a day feels good. Within a week, I’ll be at 7500 steps which are 6 km, and I will be happy with that. The 10,000 steps a day theory is just that:

A dazzle of zebras in the bush.

I-Min Lee, a professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and an expert on step counts and health, the 10,000-steps target became popular in Japan in the 1960s.”

More on this from this article, stating:

“A 2019 study by Dr. Lee and her colleagues found that women in their 70s who managed as few as 4,400 steps a day reduced their risk of premature death by about 40 percent, compared to women completing 2,700 or fewer steps a day. The risks for early death continued to drop among the women walking more than 5,000 steps a day, but benefits plateaued at about 7,500 daily steps. In other words, older women who completed fewer than half of the mythic 10,000 daily steps tended to live substantially longer than those who covered even less ground.”

If this is true, I am on track with the number of steps required to do me some good. I had read this article  (from a different source) while in India, which inspired me to strive for 8 km per day.

A lone wildebeest.

But, here, 7500 steps is more practical since it’s not easy walking so many steps while indoors. Ideally, I could walk outside, but with the lions nearby and the uneven dirt roads, it makes more sense to do it indoors to avoid tripping and potential injury.

I set my timer for 20 minutes, and I do 500 steps each time it goes off. So I must pay attention to doing this for at least five or six hours a day. Sure, I could do it all at once but breaking it up seems better for me. I like to be done by 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs. In between the walking, I do the post, visit with the animals stopping by, take photos, prepare food for dinner, and do laundry. It’s a pleasant routine.

It’s around that time for us to head to Komati. We’ll be back tomorrow with more.

May your day be pleasant and fulfilling.

Photo from one year ago today, January 19, 2021:

As I stepped out outside onto the veranda, I encountered this. Tom was sitting very close to this snake, eating a frog, and had no idea the snake was there. For more photos, please click here.

Early morning trip to Nelspruit…

    Our guide was prepared to begin backing up as this male elephant in musth moved closer and closer to us. Musth or must is a periodic condition in bull elephants characterized by highly aggressive behavior and accompanied by a large rise in reproductive hormones. Testosterone levels in an elephant in musth can be on average 60 times greater than in the same elephant at other times.

Yesterday afternoon we got a message from the lawyer informing us we had an appointment at the immigration office at 8:30 this morning to submit our 50 pages of documents for our visa extensions. We thought we were bypassing this step by using the law firm to assist us for some odd reason.

Had we known this, we may have done the process independently. Although, they helped ensure we had everything in order. Now we wait for about 60 days for the approval. If granted, we will have to return to Nelspruit again to get out passports stamped with the new 90-day extension. It’s quite a confusing and time-consuming process.

Elephant carrying her trunk on her tusk. Early elephants had tusks, and one idea is that as tusks became longer, it was harder and harder for elephants to get their mouths to the ground to reach the grass. The trunk on their tusk helps them to reach more food and to eat more in a shorter time.

Going through this painstaking process and avoiding flying to another country with many Covid restrictions right now saved us about US $3000, ZAR 4642. In the realm of things, it will have been worth it. Once approved, we’ll be able to stay until April 22. But if our April 8 cruise doesn’t cancel, we will be on our way by April 1 or sooner.

Our eventual departure date will depend on the cruise line’s requirements based on our coming out of South Africa.The ship sails out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The US has more Covid/Omicron cases per capita than South Africa. It will be interesting to see how that rolls out.

Elephant crossing the dirt road, trunk high in the air, sniffing for food or threats.

Our appointment at the immigration office was scheduled for 10:45 am. We arrived an hour earlier than the appointment time when Tom suggested we go right up to the fifth floor to VSF Immigration anyway, rather than kill time walking around downtown Nelspruit. That decision proved to be a great idea. We were the only applicants at the check-in point outside the door or inside the facility when we arrived.

As I write this post in the car, we expect to be back in Marloth Park by noon. We expected to be waiting in chairs for hours as we had in 2018 when we applied for an extension at that time.

Only one tusk was showing from this view. Our guide explained that when the elephant’s ears are flapped over, as shown above, it indicates an older elephant, as the ear cartilage has aged.

All and all, it wasn’t too bad. Before we left this morning, I prepped all the veggies for dinner. Once I add photos to today’s post upon returning to the house, I’ll do some laundry and catch up on my walking for the day.

We were happy to see Frank and The Misses at the veranda door at the house. We hadn’t seen either of them in almost a week, and we’ve been wondering if they’ve been busy sitting on some eggs out in the bush. It would be delightful to see little Franks and The Misses sometime soon.

The sky cleared after pelting rain when we first started.

Tom is sitting at the table on the veranda watching US football on his laptop, and I’m indoors finishing up today’s post. My timer is set to remind me to walk every 20 minutes. It’s a good day, after all.

Be well.

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

This was Tiny. We haven’t seen him since we returned from the US at the end of July. We miss him but have focused on energy on Little and other animals. For more photos, please click here.

It’s not perfection…More Kruger photos…

Could these Cape buffalos be a mom and a youngster?

When I had a “to do” list in my old life, I’d do everything on it in record time. It’s different now. I’ve let go of trying to be perfect. A goal one can never achieve. Trying to achieve perfection can leave a path of destruction in its wake. Funnily, although hard to admit to the world, I had to leave to change my ways. It wasn’t easy.

It wasn’t as if I ever thought, “Oh, I have to leave Minnesota to stop trying so hard.” But when Tom suggested we traveled the world when he retired on October 31, 2012, I was all over it. I wanted to see Africa and knew that it was my chance to fulfill a lifelong dream.

A male Cape buffalo, part of a group of “retired generals?” The African buffalo is a large sub-Saharan African bovine. Syncerus caffer caffer, the Cape buffalo, is the typical subspecies and the largest one found in Southern and East Africa. 

But, as the weeks rolled on, two thoughts came to mind after we’d decided to begin this journey. One, I could write, which I always longed to. When I retired but knew retirement in Minnesota wouldn’t be challenging enough to inspire me. Two, I could break the chains I put around myself, always striving for excellence, if not perfection. No one ever “made me” do it. It was all on me.

It took being away for a few years to realize this fully. It didn’t happen overnight. It began to transpire when we started selling or giving away all of our belongings. But, it escalated when we unloaded all of our overweight and excess luggage and all the items contained therein.

The African buffalo is not an ancestor of domestic cattle and is only distantly related to other larger bovines. Its unpredictable temperament may have been part of the reason that the African buffalo has never been domesticated, unlike its Asian counterpart, the water buffalo. Adult African buffaloes have few non-human predators aside from lions and large crocodiles. As a member of the big five game, the Cape buffalo is a sought-after trophy in hunting. Not good, as far as we’re concerned.

Shipping worldwide is costly and inconvenient, although we still do it from time to time. I’d thought we needed all of that “stuff” when we left. Now I’m content with one bag for my personal belongings, only disappointed when a favorite item wears out and the challenge of replacing it from afar becomes cumbersome.

It baffles me that I’m content without a garlic press, cookbooks, Egyptian cotton sheets, and pillowcases. But I am. It baffles me that I only have one handbag I purchased in South Africa at the shop in Lower Sabie, which soon must be replaced due to wear and tear.

Buffalos rarely have twins. Buffalos kill more hunters than any other species. Buffalos are good swimmers.

It baffles me that I promise myself to do tasks but totally excuse myself when I don’t do them and never feel guilty or burdensome on myself. I pay the bills. I manage travel arrangements and keep records. I cook nice meals, do laundry, and grocery shop. I remember friends and family members’ birthdays, staying in touch worldwide. I host social events and dinner parties from time to time.

But, I don’t wake up in the middle of the night thinking of all of the tasks awaiting me or the things I “should do.” I’m free. Recently, I started walking indoors with a goal in mind. I haven’t missed a day yet, but there’s always tomorrow when I do.

At the end of life, no one will ever say, “I wish I’d got more done! Or, I wish I’d done everything on my “to do” list.”

A “sausage” growing on a sausage tree. Kigelia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Bignoniaceae. The genus consists of only one species, Kigelia Africana, which occurs throughout tropical Africa. The so-called sausage tree grows a poisonous fruit that is up to 60 cm long, weighs about 7 kg, and resembles a sausage in a casing.

Almost three years ago, when my mortality faced me head-on with open heart surgery and a relatively poor future prognosis, I didn’t think of tasks I needed to accomplish. I have a will, and Tom knows my final wishes. Instead, I think of the people I love, family, friends, and acquaintances we’ll make along the way.

I think of my husband, partner, and best friend and how I can better his life in small ways each day. I think of the tasty plate of food I place at our table each time we eat in and smile when I see the satisfaction on Tom’s face.

The sky was quickly changing at sunset as we were on the move.

I think of the eyes on the faces of the animals that visit and how they connect with me, with us. I think of the little dance that Little does each time he sees me, shuffling his feet in a playful way, no different than a dog wagging his tail when you come home at the end of the day.

Simple. Uncomplicated. Not perfect. No pressure. No guilt. I love this life. I am grateful.

May your life be filled with the joy of the “little” things.

Photo from one year ago today, January 17, 2021:

What a handsome face with young horns. Antelopes in Africa don’t have antlers. They have horns for life, never shedding them. For more photos, please click here.

More photos from Kruger National Park…Another fun night at Jabula!…Great seasoning recipe…

This is a side-striped jackal, another less frequent sighting we were delighted to encounter. The side-striped jackal is a canine native to central and southern Africa. Unlike the smaller and related black-backed jackal, which dwells in open plains, the side-striped jackal primarily dwells in woodland and scrub areas.

One year ago today, the third day since our arrival in the bush in South Africa, we had no power for 19 hours and no WiFi. We are enjoying today without any outages, a strong WiFi signal, and a slightly cooler yet humid day. Often, this time of year, the temperature may only be in the 80Fs, 27Cs, but the humidity can be outrageously high, making us sweat until the sun goes down.

The kori bustard is a ground-dweller, hence the name bustard, meaning birds that walk. They have a majestic walk with measured strides. They prefer to walk away from danger and fly only when necessary because of their weight. They take off with hefty wing beats, but they fly quickly and strongly once airborne.

Nonetheless, it’s a good day. I’ve already prepped all the vegetables and ingredients for tonight’s taco salad dinner and only have to prepare the lettuce and cook the mince (hamburger meat) as soon as it defrosts enough to fit in the pan. I made the taco seasoning from scratch early this morning, using the ingredients listed below.

Those little packets of taco seasoning contain many chemicals and wheat, none of which we care to eat. Here is a simple recipe that takes only a few minutes to put together.

Marabou storks I first encountered at the old dump in Marloth Park in 2014. The marabou stork is a large wading bird in the stork family Ciconiidae. It breeds in both wet and arid habitats in Africa south of the Sahara, often near human habitation, especially landfill sites.
Low Carb Taco Seasoning
Ingredients
4 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoon cumin
4 teaspoons paprika
4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoon dried onion or onion powder
2 teaspoon oregano
2 teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
Add all the spices to a mason jar or large zip-seal bag. Close and shake or stir until fully combined. Store in an air-tight container in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year.
Notes
Use 2 tablespoons for every packet of taco seasoning called for in a recipe or for every pound of meat with no additional salt added. Use 1/2 tablespoon to season 1/4 pound of meat if making individual servings. The individual serving size is about 1/2 tablespoon.

Nutrition
Serving: 8serving (1/2 tbsp) | Calories: 15kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 616mg | Potassium: 78mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 849IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 19mg | Iron: 1mg

Table setting at the boma in Kruger National Park. There we just the eight of us as guests, with several staff members serving and assisting.

This is so easy to make. This morning,  I added sliced olives, diced onions, grape tomatoes cut in half, and chopped lettuce in individual containers. I’ll soon cook the meat until no blood remains, draining it in a strainer, placing it back into the pan, adding seasonings as stated above, based on how much meat I am cooking.

Our plates of meat were delicious.

Then, I add about one cup of water for about 4 pounds, 2.2 kg of meat. Let the meat simmer until most of the water is absorbed, usually about 20 minutes. While the meat is simmering, I cut up one small avocado to serve atop my salad. Serve right away, layering your salad as you’d like. I add a dollop of sour cream to my salad, but Tom doesn’t add any dressing. Some may prefer to add salsa. Cool the meat slightly before refrigerating. It will keep in the fridge for four days or freeze in Ziplock individual servings.

There were several vegetable options, some without sauces which I selected.

OK, enough about food for you non-foodies. Oh, oh, one more thing about food. Last night, Rita, Gerhard, Petra, Fritz and Tom, and I went to Jabula for another enjoyable time together. We lounged at the bar for a while, ordered our dinner while at the bar, and then sat at the usual table for six that Dawn always saves for us and any group of six we may have to join us.

The food is consistently delicious, and the hosts divine, which brings us back over and over again. We never tire of dining and spending time at that great restaurant, unlike any other we tried throughout the world. The bar reminds us of the TV series Cheers, where “everyone knows your name.” And the food never disappoints.

This is the beautiful European roller. The European roller is the only member of the roller family of birds to breed in Europe. Its overall range extends into the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa, and Morocco. The European roller is found in various habitats, avoiding only treeless plains. They migrate to South Africa from Europe each summer season. That’s a long flight!

When we returned home, we settled in for the night, watched an episode of a series on my laptop, and drifted off to sleep by midnight.

Today will be a quiet day. I continue faithfully with my new walking regime and haven’t missed a day since I started on January 1st. I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, but this year was different. I needed to start walking more for my health.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 16, 2021:

These two piglets were Barbara and Lori, who are now almost full-grown and visit each day. This mom is now Tail-less Mom who recently lost her tail to an injury. For more photos, please click here.

Fantastic evening in Kruger National Park with friends…Rhino, hyena, lions and more…

Safari luck prevailed! It will take several days to post the many photos we took while in Kruger National Park on last night’s guided game drive with Rita (her birthday celebration), Gerhard, Petra, Fritz, Louise, Danie, and the two of us. We had the safari vehicle exclusively for our group only and dinner in the bush later on.

Our guide took this group photo of the eight of us.

I took the above video in error while I fast and furiously tried to take photos in the near dark without using any flash since using a camera’s flash is not allowed at night in the park. The flash can blind particular creatures, if not frighten them. We were in their space, not ours.

OK, I get it; a photo of a lion pooping is not necessarily worthy of posting. But, in the dark, in the moving vehicle, this was the best photo I could get of this lion.

As a result, the above video is all over the place. But I couldn’t help but share it with all of you when it included the dehorned rhino, hyena, and one of two lions we spotted in the dark. Also, some of our photos are not as clear as we’d like since many of the photos were taken in the dark, often in the moving vehicle. I’m not a good enough photographer to combat these issues. I did the best I could.

Hyenas are not always seen on a game drive. This one walked past us without giving it much of a thought.

With the eight of us in the safari vehicle with our highly competent guide and his significant other in the front seat, the conversation among us was fun and exciting as we saw more and more stunning wildlife. Our excellent guide, Xander van der Merwe, went over the top to provide us with an excellent experience, and he did. He’s highly skilled and knowledgeable, and the more experienced animal enthusiasts in our group learned a few things from him.

The two male lions were on the road at night in the dark.

If you are coming to or in this area, please don’t hesitate to give Xander a call for an experience such as ours. He will happily arrange an evening to be your guide and enjoy the dinner in the bush. He can be reached at +27 079 061 9995 or by email at xandervdmerwe14@gmail.com.

We waited for the rhino to turn around.

As it turned out, we saw four of the Big Five, but we weren’t disappointed to accomplish this common goal, as we mentioned many times. Sure, it would have been nice to see a leopard, but we saw many exciting and rarely seen wildlife. We couldn’t have been more content.

Finally, he turned, and I was able to get a shot of him, revealing he had been dehorned.

After stopping many times for various sightings on the evening drive, we didn’t arrive at the dining boma until around 8:00 pm, 2000 hrs, instead of the intended hour earlier. The fire was roaring, the tables were nicely set, and the buffet was set up with various options.

Quickly, he wandered off.

We gathered near the bonfire for exciting conversations over our special game drive. Firstly, wine and beer were served, and although all of us were hungry, we didn’t cut ourselves short on “sundowner time.” I drank regular red wine instead of my usual low alcohol wine but monitored myself carefully to avoid drinking too much. Tom drank beer.

Rita and I were standing under the sign.

Before dinner, the servers announced they were serving “champagne,” actually sparkling wine, to celebrate Rita’s birthday. We all raised a glass to her in tribute to her 60th birthday. After drinks and more photo-taking, we were seated at the table with our plate filled with good food. There were plenty of meats and vegetables available for me, while I avoided the starchy sides and dessert.

A beautiful sky at sunset.

Finally, we were on our way back to Louise’s and Danie’s Info Centre parking lot. We all hugged goodbye, delighted over extraordinary memories we’ll all treasure in years to come.

Enjoy our photos, and know there will be many more in the days to come.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 15, 2021:

We posted this photo one year ago. Mom, now called Tail-less Mom, with Barbara and Lori when they were piglets. Now full-grown, they visit us every day with Tail-less Mom and her two new piglets. For more photos, please click here.

Avocados, popular in South Africa…Finally found a solution to ripen them quickly…More trail cam sightings!

Here are the remaining eight small avocados from a bag of ten we purchased a few days ago.

Why would a travel-related site write about avocados? I could say that regardless of where we live, we have to eat. But, in this case, it’s more about cultural interests, agriculture, and the diet of those who prefer to eat certain nutritious foods. Avocados are among this group in South Africa.

Certain food items are impossible to find as we’ve traveled the world. If they are available, they are costly and often difficult to ripen. In many cases, I’ve left avocados on the counter, hoping they’d soften in a few days, only to be disappointed when they don’t ripen at all or are tough and tasteless when they do soften sufficiently to cut and eat.

We’re always thrilled to see the porcupine photos the following day.

South Africa is 12th in the world in avocado production s indicated on this site, as listed below:

“Statistics of Avocado Production

The export estimate for the 2019 season from March to October is 14.5 million of 4 kg cartons, which amounts to 58 000 tons. Derek Donkin, CEO of the South African Subtropical Growers’ Association (Subtrop), estimates that the total crop of 2019 will be 110 000 tonnes. This includes local, export, and fruit sold for processing into an avocado puree and oil.

Future production of avocados in South Africa is expected to grow with an additional 1000 ha – 1500 ha to be planted annually for at least the next five years from 2019 onwards. Exports should exceed 20 million cartons at this growth rate and will expand as long as the industry grows.

Is this a young porcupine with undeveloped quills?

The bulk of new plantings in South Africa is the black-skinned Hass and Hass-type avocados. New green-skinned avocados are aimed at either the early or late local market.

The informative ‘Avocado Market – Growth, Trends, and Forecast 2019-2024’ report estimates an increase in avocado consumption in China. Already in 2017, China imported 22% more than the previous year. China imports avocados mainly from Chile, Mexico, and Peru, all three countries having beneficial terms of trade with China.

World Production of Avocados

Approximately 76% of avocados are produced in the Americas, 11% in Africa, 9% in Asia, and 2% in both Europe and the South Pacific. Mexico is the world’s biggest producer of avocados, with an approximation of 1.5 million tonnes out of global production of 3.2 million tonnes as of 2018.

Tom was standing in the doorway to the veranda when he spotted the genet.

South America, Colombia, Brazil, Chile, and Argentina are the large producers of avocados, with Peru exporting 60% of South America’s volume. Colombia’s plantings are growing faster than South Africa’s, with 1 500 to 2 000 ha planted each year. Colombia has also become the largest exporter of Hass avocados in the world.

In Africa, avocado producers include South Africa at 120 000 tonnes; Kenya produces an estimation of 80 000 tonnes, Tanzania and Zimbabwe each has 5 000 tonnes, and newcomer Mozambique is at 1 000 tonnes.

Other countries producing avocados include the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, Madagascar, Mauritius, Madeira, the Canary Islands, southern Spain, and southern France, as well as Sicily, Crete, Israel, and Egypt.

South Africa’s Avocado Exports

Between 45 and 50% of South Africa’s avocados are exported, and 10 – 15% is processed into oil and pulp. The rest is sold locally. The main importing countries of South African avocados are Europe – particularly the Netherlands, France and Spain, the UK, and the Baltic states at 95%. Small volumes are exported to Africa, the Middle East, and Hong Kong.

Is this genet going to become a regular visitor to our garden at night? Most likely, it will, especially when we put out some meat.

South African industries and government are negotiating market access to the USA, mainland China, and Japan. Currently, strict phytosanitary requirements limit access to these markets. Peru, as another southern hemisphere producer, is South Africa’s most serious competitor, both in volume and timing, for the supply of avocados into northern hemisphere markets.”

As a result of how prolific avocados are in South Africa, I often buy a bag of small avocados, the Haas dark skin variety. I have had nothing but a good experience every time. The typical cost for the bag of ten small avocados is usually under US $5.00, ZAR 77.

When purchasing one of these bags, all of them are hard and unripened. I always plan to ensure they are soft and ready to eat when I buy them. In a perfect world, I have one of these small-sized avocados in my salad each night, but I have to plan to accomplish this based on when we shop and when we’re dining at home.

One day, a few months ago, I placed two avos on the window sill. They weren’t in direct sunlight, but it’s warmer there. By the way, I never refrigerate avos unless I’ve only eaten half and plan to have the other half the next day. Avo lovers know so well that they don’t keep well after peeling. They are ready to eat within 36 hours of placing the small avos on the window sill. I always have sufficient ripe avos and never waste by this process.

Years ago, I read that if you store a portion of the avo with the pit in a sealed container, it will keep for a few days. Although I rarely leave half of these small avos, I’ve tried this, and it seems to work well for 24 hours when refrigerated.

As for nutrition, avocados are ideal for my way of eating, as indicated below:

“Mini Avocados contain 4g total carbs, 1g net carbs, 8g fat, 1g protein, and 80 calories.” What is a “net carb?” Some low-carb/keto enthusiasts deduct fiber from the total carbs. I tend to count the total carbs rather than subtract the fiber since it’s easy to overeat the number of carbs you’ve chosen to consume each day when counting this way.
I recall paying as much US $2.99, ZAR 46, for one large avo. Sure, on occasion, when I’d make guacamole for a party, I could find ample ripe avos at the market. However, making a good-sized batch of guac can require as many as ten large avocados. That was one pricey dip!
This morning for breakfast, I had one of those ripe little avocados with a one-ounce chunk of cheddar cheese, a slice of gluten-free deli chicken meat with a dollop of homemade salad dressing for dipping. What a treat!. Of course, Tom doesn’t care for avocados and never eats them alone or in a dish.
As for today, at 3:30, we’re meeting Rita, Gerhard, Petra, Fritz, Louise, and Danie outside their office to be picked up by a guide in a safari vehicle as we head out to Kruger National Park on safari, ending in “dinner in the bush,” all to celebrate Rita’s birthday! Today, we’ll wear our “bugs away” clothing in the open vehicle hoping to deter the mozzies from biting.
Tomorrow, we will be back with photos of today’s adventure, hopefully with plenty of photos to share, including photos of the food from our bush dinner.
Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, January 14, 2021:

Within minutes of arriving back in Marloth Park, we were gifted with this amazing sight. Love these! For more, please click here.

Fabulous celebratory night at Khaya Umdani…Error correction in yesterday’s post…One year ago, we arrived in Marloth Park…

Note; In yesterday’s post here, I listed a genet as a civet when it was a genet. Many Marloth Park locals and dear friends Kathy and Don, who are now at their home in Hawaii, heard that it was indeed a genet. This morning, I corrected yesterday’s post with numerous references and facts about civets that now reflect facts about genets.

Rita, smiling as always, and Tom, an equally cheerful person.

On last night’s trail cam, t returned. Tonight’s trail cam photos will likely reflect her visit once again. Tonight, we’re having lamb (me) and pork chops (Tom) again and will leave some meat and bones out for her after dark.

As soon as we arrived, there were 11 kudus in the garden.

Last night, we had a great time at Khaya Umdani, where Rita, Gerhard, her sister Petra and her husband Fritz are staying for the upcoming three weeks. After Petra and Fritz leave, Rita and Gerhard will move to their favorite house on Hornbill, where we stayed during our first three months in the bush in 2013/2014.

A rhino beetle on Rita’s finger! Note the horn, thus the name.

Even with countless rhino beetles, as shown in the above photo on Rita’s finger, flying around us, landing on our clothes, we didn’t flinch. The drinks, the great food, and the conversation flowed with ease as always. Tom did a great job cooking the steaks and boerewors (sausages) on the braai. Rita and Gerhard served homemade potato salad, sweet corn, steamed green beans, and crusty bread. I brought a salad and Rita’s low-carb birthday cake, as shown when she didn’t want to eat sugar or gluten.

Rita loves my low-carb, chemical-free, homemade salad dressing

Tom was in heaven eating the bread, the corn, and the potato salad, although he picked at his filet mignon and salad. He can have steak and salad with me any day. But corn, potatoes, and bread are never on the menu when it’s just the two of us.

My plates of rare tenderloin, sausage with a dab of mustard, and salad. All delicious.

If he can eat healthy low-carb foods with me, he’s able to manage his weight and his health. But, he splurges when we dine out or dine at the homes of friends. It’s a fair compromise, and I keep my mouth shut about what he’s eating under those circumstances. Of course, my concern is for his health. But, he takes no drugs and has no medical conditions. Who’s to argue with his desire for treats now and then? Not me.

Petra is delightful. We had a lot of good laughs and great conversations.

We enjoyed chatting with Petra and Fritz. Petra speaks better English than Fritz (they live in Germany). Still, we managed to easily communicate with them, either from their English, or translation in German by Rita and Gerhard. None of us missed a beat in the lively conversation.

Gerhard and Fritz enjoyed their beer.

We celebrated Rita’s birthday, which is on Friday since we’ll all be in Kruger National Park for a guided night game drive and dinner in the bush afterward. It made sense to make the celebratory first anniversary of their US citizenship along with her birthday on a special night.

Low-carb almond flour cakes don’t rise like flour cakes. But it was delicious, nonetheless.

I didn’t realize the birthday candles I’d bought at Spar were the type that doesn’t blow out. We all laughed out loud when we had a terrible time trying to put out the fire on the cake.

The trick candles took a few minutes to extinguish!

Today is a quiet day. I am baking that exact cake for us and bringing an extra to Louise and Danie as a surprise. They will surely love it also. It will be fun to have a special treat after tonight’s dinner.

We hope you are doing well in these crazy times.

Photo from one year ago today, January 13, 2021:

One year ago, on this date, we arrived in Marloth Park after a 59-hour journey from Mumbai, India. After ten months in lockdown in the hotel in Mumbai, we couldn’t have been more pleased to be here. For more, please click here.

More exciting sightings from the trail cam…A special day of celebration with friends.

What a night it was in the bush! These fantastic creatures stopped by after we’d left some bones out after dark. Genets, as shown in the photos, are carnivores. Porcupines aren’t carnivores, but I also tossed out some vegetables, so perhaps that’s what attracted them.

We’ve had a few glimpses of genets, here and there, but never quite as clear as seen in these photos from last night’s shots by the trail cam. Each morning, it is so exciting to see what treasure the trail cam picked up when we aren’t sitting outdoors.

We couldn’t have been more thrilled to see a genet on last night’s trail cam photos.

It rained in buckets last night, and we were inside when these photos were taken. Plus, sitting outdoors in the dark right now with all the insects buzzing around our heads isn’t as fun as it was a few months ago. Although, when we have guests, we have no choice but to sit outdoors when our dining room table only seats four.

Speaking of guests coming for dinner, tonight at Rita and Gerhard’s US citizenship dinner party at the Khaya Umdani house, we’ll plan a night for all of them to come to our house for dinner, maybe next Thursday or Saturday. With Rita’s sister, Petra, and brother-in-law Fritz here with them for a few weeks, it will be fun to entertain them on our veranda.

“A genet is a member of the genus Genetta, which consists of 14 to 17 species of small African carnivorans. The common genet is the only genet present in Europe and occurs in the Iberian Peninsula, Italy, and France. Genet fossils from the Late Miocene and later have been found at sites in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Morocco.”

It’s always so exciting to share the adventures in the bush with first-time human visitors. It’s delightful to watch the expressions of pure joy on their faces when they see a giraffe crossing the road, warthog moms and babies in the garden, and even insects one has never seen in their lives and may never see again.

After all this time we’ve spent in Marloth Park, which Tom and I just figured out has been 30 months, less one month in the US, and several short visa stamp trips, we’ve never become bored for a day. Yes, we’ve been miserably hot, covered in mosquito bites, and suffered some long stretches without power, water, and WiFi. But, as our long-time readers know, none of this keeps us away.

The small, catlike genet is extremely common in Africa. Nocturnal, secretive, and shy, the fox-size common or small-spotted genet has black marks on its face that give it the appearance of wearing a mask. The spots on the back of a genet’s coat are arranged in parallel lines and become elongated as they approach the tail, which has distinct black rings. Blotched genets are close relatives and share a similar facial mask, but they have larger spots and black-tipped tails.

A few minutes ago, I heard the hornbills pecking on the kitchen window as they often do. I jumped up in an attempt to take a photo of them but instead was distracted by five “go-away” birds near the veranda. And when we’re gifted by the constant flow of human and animal visitors, life couldn’t be better than this. I got several excellent shots which we’ll share in tomorrow’s post.

Every day it’s something new. This type of constant stimulation wasn’t as prevalent in our old lives. And, as much as we enjoyed those days and nights, we have a different perspective of life, of nature, from living here in the bush. We’re often asked if we’d live here permanently, and the answer is still an emphatic “no.” It’s the novelty of all of this that keeps us coming back for more.

That’s not to say we’d get bored living here. Many people live here full-time and never tire of the wildlife and their many friends in this hugely social environment. But, our goals remain the same…we are world travelers, and once we can get back out there in the world, we will. Right now, we’re waiting to see if our cruising plans, in less than three months, will once again send us on our way.

This appears to be two porcupines. Could it be a mom and baby?

For now, I’m finished in the kitchen, having made an enormous salad and surprise treat for Rita, which I’ll share in tomorrow’s post. Her birthday is on Friday, and we’re all going into Kruger on a private guided night drive, ending in a dinner in the wild shortly thereafter. We’ve done this in the past and loved the experience, as I’m sure we all will again.

That’s it for today, folks. I have some projects to complete before heading out to Khaya Umdani for tonight’s festivities. It will be fun to be back at that fabulous house where we stayed for a few weeks in 2014 and have been to several times over the years for other social events.

Have a safe and productive day.

Photo from one year ago today, January 12, 2021:

We were no longer in Mumbai, India, on this date, one year ago. Adorable giraffe at rest. For more photos, please click here.