Dorothy, this isn’t Kansas…This is Africa…Python in a car!…

Last night, as we often do on Fridays, we headed to Jabula Lodge and Restaurant for dinner, arriving a few hours earlier to enjoy social time at the bar. With Covid-19 currently non-existent in Marloth Park, it feels safe to socialize with the locals. Last night proved to be an exceptionally interesting evening, not only from the lively banter, but from running into our friends Patty Pan and her husband Sydney, a lovely couple we’ve thoroughly enjoyed over the years.

We all sat at the bar commiserating over our wildlife sightings and events of the week, but nothing could top the story, Patty Pan had to tell and subsequently, share in photos and videos on her phone. Tom and I couldn’t have been more excited to see her exciting videos and photos, some of which we’re sharing here today, with her permission, of course.

Python under hood #1

Where to begin? Patty Pan explained that a few weeks ago, she noticed a number of mongoose, hanging around her driveway underneath her car. No doubt, they were making their little chirping sounds, making Patty wonder what was going on. She looked under the car, but didn’t find a thing. Sometimes nature throws a curve ball and we can’t easily figure out what was  going on.

Inevitably, in time, the “reasons why” will pop up before our eyes and we are astounded by the wonders Mother Nature presents to us humans. And that’s exactly what happened to Patty. Several days later at the petrol station, when the attendant lifted the hood (the bonnet, here in South Africa) and shouted, “SNAKE!” immediately slamming down the hood, in sheer terror.

Python under hood #2

A commotion ensued as Patty Pan, the attendant and a few onlookers were excited by this outrageous and once-in-a-lifetime sighting. Patty Pan, a highly regarded, experienced and knowledgeable Honorary Ranger, didn’t panic. If she’d had the proper equipment with her she could have readily removed the massive python from under her hood.

Immediately, she contacted Nadine, another Honorary Ranger and trained snake handler to come to the petrol station, bringing her tongs and a bucket to place the snake in once it was retrieved. In a matter of minutes,  In no time at all, Nadine arrived, captured the snake and carefully placed it in a proper snake container.

Python under hood #3.

The python was returned to the bush in Marloth Park, its natural habitat, properly rescued and allowed to continue its life as one of the many wildlife in this exquisite wildlife-rich environment. What a story, Patty Pan (and that petrol station attendant) will have to tell for years to come, let alone the stunning stories she’s accumulated over the years.

We couldn’t be more appreciative and thrilled that Patty Pan was willing to share her video and photo with us to share with all of you today. First thing, this morning, I uploaded the video on YouTube, the social media platform we use to upload videos to our site.

If the video appeals to you, please forward the link (click on the video and the link will appear) to your friends and family and let’s see how many hits we can get. Surely, this could result in a viral response.

So, as we say in the heading with the Wizard of Oz in mind, “Dorothy, this isn’t Kansas. This is Africa!” and this, dear readers, is what happens here!

Photo from one year ago today, May 8, 2020:

Where else in the world could you get a photo like this of a giraffe, taken in Marloth Park in 2019? Only Marloth Park offers such wonders on a daily basis, often referred to as “Paradise on Earth.” For more photos, please click here.

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

Young male bushbuck with sprouting little horns.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wildebeest Willie, lounging in the garden.

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

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

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

More zebras in the garden.

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

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

Be well. Be safe. Remain diligent.

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

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

Today, a social day and evening in the bush…

Wildebeest Willie has now become a regular visitor, stopping by a few times each day.

Today, at 4:00 pm, a small group of us will be meeting at one Marloth Park’s favorite Crocodile River overlooks, known at Two Tree for sundowners. Doing so, requires the participants bring lawn chairs. Without a single such chair in our bush home, we were able to borrow two chairs.

Linda and Ken, who will participate with us in the Two Trees gathering, have invited us for dinner following the event. No doubt, it will be a fun and entertaining late afternoon and evening. We so much appreciate being able to socialize after such a long dry spell months ago in India.

He doesn’t take a guff from the pushy warthogs who jockey for pellets.

It certainly has been a social dry spell for citizens throughout the world over the past 14 months since Covid-19 precipitated lockdowns in almost every country. At this point, we can’t help but wonder how safe the lessening of lockdown will impact the new cases of the virus as more and more private and public gatherings pick up the pace after all this time.

Surely, what’s transpiring in India now, with almost 400,000 new cases daily, has something to do with the lack of protective measures exercised by the masses of people attending political, social and religious gatherings. It saddens us, when we especially recall hotel guests wandering the corridors in the hotel in Mumbai, talking loudly and gathering in groups without wearing masks or social distancing.

Willie, in the morning shadows, drinking from the top section of the birdbath.

On several occasions, we were shocked by the hotel hosting weddings, conventions and other events with little regard for the risks of Covid-19. This mentality, obviously carried through the entire country and now, India is paying the price with these outrageous numbers of cases and subsequent deaths.

On the occasions where I went downstairs to pay the hotel bill, which later we had them bring the bill to us, again, I was shocked by the resistance to wearing masks, wearing masks properly and lack of social distancing. The hotel staff tried desperately to get the guests to comply to no avail.

Willie spends a lot of time staring at us, in an attempt to get us to give him more pellets.

But, the desperation by the privately owned hotel to recoup some of their losses prompted them to allow social events to transpire during the worst months of the pandemic which surely continued long after we left. Now, we wonder if the hotel, or any other hotels in India are still open for non-Covid guests.

Gosh, we’re grateful we were able to leave India. It’s so much safer here in Marloth Park. We often wonder about the accuracy of the stats here in South Africa when it appears cases are dropping at this point. And yet, just yesterday, we read a news article from what appears to be a reputable source, stating a potentially new lockdown on the horizon.

These two wildebeest were new to the garden, an adult and a younger male.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post here, the uncertainty during these times of Covid-19 is palpable for all of us. Many are frustrated over being unable to visit loved ones and many are missing traveling to their favorite locations. Of course, cruising has been out of the question and may continue to be so for a few more years to come.

Currently we have four cruises booked all the way to April 2022, most of which we expect will be canceled. One of our cruises will require a payment in full in July which is scheduled to set sail in November, 2021. We feel compelled to pay the final payment since we got such a great price on it, which is now priced 50% higher. So, just in case, it isn’t canceled, we’ll pay the final payment to lock in our price. It’s all up in the air.

That’s it for today, dear readers. Thanks for hanging in there with us during these peculiar times. Hopefully, as restrictions lessen, (or not) we can still provide ample fodder to please our readers.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, May 5, 2020:

Tom and I at Amazing River View in October 2018, when friends Lois and Tom were visiting for three weeks. For more photos, please click here.

Zebra day!…A delightful visit by nine of these wonderful animals…

A little cuddle among the dazzle of zebras.

Almost daily, warthogs, bushbucks, kudus, mongoose, francolins and other birds stop by for a visit. However, zebras are less frequent visitors. Since arriving here over 3½ months ago, zebras have only graced us with their presence on two occasions. Yesterday, was one of those occasions and we couldn’t have been more thrilled.

When Tom happened to look out the kitchen window, he saw the zebras in the driveway. He tossed them some pellets. In no time at all, they came around to the back garden.

From this site, here are 25 amazing facts about zebras:

“Zebras are one of the many beautiful creatures inhabiting Africa. Many people know them for their iconic stripes and the never ending riddle about them being black with white stripes, or white with black stripes.

Here are a handful of facts you might or might not know about these striped horses.

  1. The zebra is actually mostly covered in white and striped with black or dark brown stripes, but underneath their coat is black skin.
  2. There are different types of zebra, each with a different stripe pattern. The mountain zebra normally has vertical stripes on its neck and across its torso while horizontal strips cover their legs.
  3. Zebras run in a zig-zag pattern when being chased by a predator making it more difficult for the predator to run after them.
  4. The pattern of a zebras stripes is different for each individual zebra, making them each as unique snowflakes!
  5. The black & white striped pattern of their coats is a good bug repellant, keeping horseflies and other bloodsuckers at bay.
  6. A group of zebras is called a ‘zeal” or “dazzle.”

    It was fun to see two zebras drinking simultaneously.

  7. The Native American culture refers to the zebra as a symbol of balance and sureness of the path.
  8. The Swahili name for the zebra is ‘Punda Milia’.
  9. Romans used Grévy’s zebras to pull two wheeled carts for their circuses.
  10. In Roman Circuses the zebra was usually called a ‘Tiger-Horse’ or a ‘Horse-Tiger’.
  11. When faced by predators, zebras will form a semi-circle and bit, nip or attack the predators if they come too close to them. They will also encircle an injured family member to protect it from further attack if the need arises.
  12. A mother zebra will keep her foal away from all other zebras for two or three days until the foal can recognize her scent, voice, and appearance.

    There were nine zebras in the garden, staying for over an hour.

  13. Zebras form hierarchies with a Stallion (male) in the lead, followed by his Harem (group of females) behind him.
  14. When traveling with his harem, the stallion will lead them with his head low and his ears laid back.
  15. Zebra’s bunch together to confuse colorblind predators, such as lions, which mistake the pattern as grass.
  16. Zebras are one of the few mammals that we believe can see in color.
  17. Zebras are actually pretty short and can be 3.5-5 feet tall.
  18. The Grévy’s zebra is named after Jules Grévy, president of France (in 1882) who received a zebra as a present from the emperor of Abyssinia.
  19. Another name for Grévy’s Zebras are Imperial Zebras.
  20. A zebra can run up to 65 km/h or 40 mph.
  21. To sleep, generally zebras don’t lie down – instead they usually sleep standing up.

    We’re so enjoying seeing wildlife drinking from the bird bath where we continue to add fresh water.

  22. Zebras can rotate their ears in almost any direction; this ability is used to communicate their mood with other zebras.
  23. Zebras have one toe on each foot.
  24. Zebras cannot see the color orange.
  25. A species of zebra are called ‘Asinus Burchelli’ after a conflict between William John Burchell and John Edward Gray sparked. Burchell brought specimens from Africa to The British Museum and the specimens died. Gray felt the need to Embarrass Burchell because of the incident; the name means “Burchelli’s Ass”.”

    They drink from the top section and often drop down and drink from the bottom section as well.

We’ve researched a number of facts about zebras over the years and each source provides new and interesting information about these stunning animals.

The sounds of their hooves pounding on the ground, the whinnying amongst themselves over pellets and jockeying for position in the garden leaves us smiling over their demeanor, rambunctious and determined. Each time we drive on Olifant Road, the only paved road in Marloth Park, we are in awe, when spotting them at the side of the road or crossing.

They waited in a queue, taking turns drinking the fresh water.

We seldom see a solitary zebra. They are social animals who travel together covering many kilometers in a single day. Even here in Marloth Park, which is only 3000 hectares, 6.7 square miles, they find plenty of space to wander, whether it’s in the parklands or in the sparsely occupied residential areas, zebras may be found running fast together, or casually grazing on the grass and vegetation.

Residents of Marloth Park certainly appreciate the zebras offering them carrots, apples and pellets when they stop by for a visit.

At this point, we haven’t been offering apples and carrots, but once the winter comes, when the vegetation is sparse, we’ll begin offering these to our friendly visitors.

They were busy eating pellets for quite some time.

Today, we’ll be working on some research for the future and afterward head over to Louise and Danie‘s Info Centre for a short visit. The school holiday period has ended and now, they have more time for a little social interaction. It will be good to see them once again.

If all goes as planned over the next 24 hours, we’ll be off to Kruger National Park tomorrow for a much desired self drive, hopefully returning with many good photos to share here.

A pretty female profile.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, May 3 2020:

A fish eagle, one of the most prolific eagles in Kruger National Park. For more photos, please click here.

Fantastic evening with friends…Little annoyances with credit cards…

One Tusk with his hair all fluffed up during the rutting reason.

On Friday night, when we had dinner with Linda and Ken, Tom asked me to bring my credit card that has a substantial credit on it as a result of refunds for trips we’d canceled due to Covid-19 issues we mentioned in prior posts. Unusual for me, I forgot to bring my “phone/wallet” and since I’d planned to pay, Tom didn’t bring his wallet.

As a result, this morning, Tom drove to Jabula to pay our bill using my credit card to further reduce the credit on it. Dawn, knowing we’d certainly return to pay our bill, didn’t hesitate to let us out the door without paying. This morning, Tom drove to Jabula and paid the bill, using my card with the credit on it.

The four babies will soon be on their own, often staying together until they find a mate. Once they mate, they have no involvement with the piglets and wander about on their own, on occasion in same sex groups, called sounders

When there’s a big credit on a credit card, we’ve found that most credit card companies eventually send a check to the address on file. They don’t like customers having credits on a card. I suppose, it means they don’t make any money from us, unable to charge us interest on debit balances. We pay off our credit cards every month to prepare for any possible travel related expenses which may arise.

This wouldn’t work for us. Our billing address is in Nevada. If a check was sent to our mailing service in Nevada, we’d have to pay extra fees to have it sent to our bank in the US. We called the credit card company and asked them to keep the credit on file for three months while we’ll use the card as often as possible to reduce the credit to zero.

Big Daddy and Bossy hanging out together.

We prefer not to use that particular card, in local shops, a favorite card offering many travel benefits and rewards. When out and about, in the past, the card had been used fraudulently, requiring canceling the card and ordering a new one. To get a replacement credit card here to us in South Africa, could take upwards of three months since they send them via USPS snail mail which is a disaster on the receiving end in SA.

During Covid-19, we’ve hardly been on the move, incurring new charges other than rental fees, car rental, food and entertainment. In the pre-Covid past, we’d have considerable sums to charge on credit cards when we were often cruising, flying and staying in hotels. We often accumulated many rewards points. It’s certainly not so much now.

Big Daddy has been enjoying lounging in the garden.

There’s often “little things” like this that we must pay attention to, often by-products of this unusual life we live.. Surely, most of you experience similar issues from time to time and they can be frustrating, however small. We try to stay on top of such things to ensure they “don’t get away from us.”

In our old lives, we frequently had to call utility companies, cable TV and other services for errors in billing or service. Now, with our relatively simple lives, with no bills to pay other than credit cards and insurance, it’s considerably easier.

Two boys in the bush engaged in a little scuffle

Last night, we had another fantastic evening with Linda and Ken. We didn’t get to bed until almost midnight, but managed to get a good night’s sleep. This morning, I couldn’t help but linger for a while when Tom was up and already outdoors. But finally, always afraid I’ll miss something, I bolted out of bed to begin my day.

Recently, I signed up for a free week of AMC in order to watch season 10 of The Walking Dead. I can’t believe I actually love this zombie show. Zombies have never been on my radar. Tom had watched season one through nine with me in India, but finally lost interest with the snarling. I wondered how I’d manage to watch 20 episodes in one week. But I came up with a plan.

Mom and four babies soon to be set off on their own without their mom.

If I could multi-task and do old-post corrections on one screen on my laptop and have the show running on a spit screen, I could get the 20 episodes completed by the end of the seven days. I have until midnight tomorrow, May 3rd. So each afternoon, while I worked on the corrections, I found I had no trouble doing both. By the end of today, I should be able to complete and season and then cancel AMC.

As a matter of fact, I’ve now discovered based on the above scenario, doing the corrections is made easier, if simultaneously, I watch something on the split screen. Tom made fun of me for two reasons; my love of the show and two, my weird ability to do both activities at the same time. He always says, “I don’t multi-task, like you.”

Two impalas in the garden. They are very shy and we’re always surprised to see them stop by.

So there’s our past 24 hours, nothing earth shattering, but nonetheless quite enjoyable. At the moment, we’re both sitting at the table on the veranda on a blissfully cool and sunny day, watching Mother Nature present one of her precious beasts after another, to bring us more joy.

Photo from one year ago today, May 2, 2020:

A mom and her calf cooling off in the river. For more year-ago photos, please click here.

An important message from a dear reader…

This is One Wart. As shown, he only has one wart on the left side of his face and none on the right. Hence, his name.

Pam, a longtime reader of our site, wrote:

“Was thinking of you and Tom today after watching the tragic news on the Covid-19 situation in India. I’m so glad you were able to leave when you did! I was just amazed at your skill in arranging those flights just at the right time while there was that small window of opportunity. I attached a brief news clip showing the 5-star hotels in Mumbai that are being used for Covid patients. Who knows if the hotel you were in would have been next? What an unsettling thought, but thankfully that is all behind you now.”

Here is the link to the video Pam attached to her email message https://youtu.be/FmqFTIJ-Uxk.

Wildebeest Willie in the garden.

No doubt, the Covid-19 news from India, which we’ve followed since we left over three months ago is disheartening and alarming, not only for the Indian people but for all of the world. Will this hotbed of Covid keep the world from ever recovering? It’s hard to say. Even scientific and medical experts aren’t able to predict!

Thank you, Pam, for writing and your kind and thoughtful message. It wasn’t so much skill that got us out of India when we did. It was totally based on the sheer terror of what was yet to come, which proved to be a huge motivator. When each day we spotted dozens of guests in the corridors, talking loudly in close proximity groups, not wearing masks or social distancing while continuing to have parties and weddings at the hotel, we knew India was in big trouble.

A number of impalas stopped by, all the while “barking” over the pellets.

When I left the hotel midway through our stay to go to an ATM with the hotel’s driver, the numbers of people in the streets, in crowds, in groups and entering shops without masks or social distancing, it was easy to see, there was no way, their previously low numbers of cases and deaths would ultimately last.

Statistics, such as those shown in the Covid-19 world tracker, Worldometer, found here with over 319,000 new cases yesterday, far surpassing any country’s number of cases in one day, are alarming. Sure, India has almost 1.4 billion people, four times the population of the US, for example, which had 47,456 new cases yesterday, still an outrageously high number.

Impalas are skittish around humans. Thus, I took this photo while seated or they’d have run off if I’d stood.

It’s also easy to surmise that India’s numbers aren’t as accurate as many other countries, with their medical infrastructure rapidly failing due to a serious lack of support equipment, staff, and space for victims. Now, they are housing non-ICU patients in hotels when hospitals are full of ICU patients, dying from lack of available sources of oxygen and medicines.

Yes, this is morbid and surely considered to be less than ideal fodder for our post. But, as upbeat as we strive to be, we can’t and won’t put our heads in the sand and deny what is transpiring in the country from whence we came only a few months ago where we spent over one year of our eight years of world travel. Our hearts are breaking for those patients, their families, and the  overwhelmed medical professionals.

Kudus are used to hanging around with impalas and they all get along well.

We can only hope that other countries with surplus supplies can continue to step in and help. We read this article regarding participation by other countries in providing supplies and aid to India. How do you vaccinate 1.4 billion people? How many cases aren’t being reported? How do you treat millions currently in the throes of the virus? It’s heartwrenching.

Yes, dear reader Jan, thank you for writing to us. No words can express how grateful we are to have been able to leave India and now be in this paradise-like environment, relatively safe from the virus if we remain diligent, Now, we are on a list of 500,000 in South Africa who have signed up for the vaccine. But, with a population of 58.6 million that a half million is only the tip of the iceberg. It’s less than 1%.

There’s a warthog in almost every shot, hoping to steal pellets from others.

Any speculation by “experts” that this pandemic may be over in 2022 or 2023 is deluding themselves. Each and every one of us can choose to take responsibility for doing our part to stay safe as we possibly can, even after receiving a vaccine, even after having had the virus, even after taking every possible precaution we can muster.

Stay safe, stay healthy, and pray along with us for the world’s recovery.

Photo from one year ago today, April 27, 2020:

These tropical island musicians and dancers greeted us in Noumea, New Caledonia. For more from the year-ago post, please click here.

Is this enough?…

Big Daddies in the garden, getting along well with a female while they eat pellets.

A few days ago, Tom asked me, “Are you bored or antsy?” Is this enough?”

I giggled when I answered. “With the world still in some form of lockdown or another, there is nowhere I’d rather be.”

Without question, I have a short attention span and can easily become bored or antsy. Throughout my life, I’ve learned to find ways to entertain myself to avoid boredom or discontent. As Tom and I have discussed on many occasions, if we were living in a condo somewhere right now, waiting out the hopeful end of the pandemic, I could easily be climbing the walls in search of mental stimulation. He doesn’t experience such an issue.

Helmeted Guinea-fowls stopped for another visit. Their chicks are getting big but no blue heads quite yet.

How in the world did I ever maintain my sanity during the 10 months in that awful lockdown in India? The only way it was possible was to develop a consistent routine and stick to it. This may sound counterproductive. But, in that peculiar situation, the routine saved me; the daily posts, the 8 km walk in the corridors, working on the new website along with endless hours in research on many of my favorite topics.

Another shot of guinea-fowls and chicks.

Tom was content to be on his laptop researching ancestry.com and other websites that appeal to him. We both enjoyed when it was 3:00 pm, when we began streaming favorite series with multiple seasons. That time wrapped in mindless drivel helped us both so much. We don’t need to do that now, although we may stream a few shows when we go to bed.

Of course, being with Tom helps me considerably. He constantly makes me laugh and brings up topics he knows I’ll enjoy contemplating and discussing. We never run out of conversation. Even here in Marloth Park, we’ve developed a routine that only adds to our sense of fulfillment and lack of boredom.

Mongoose waiting for Tom to come out with a pan of scrambled eggs.

As it turns out, we do most of our chatting in the late afternoon when we may decide to have a beverage, referred to as “sundowners” here in South Africa. These may be iced tea, hot tea, or a glass of wine for me or a cocktail for Tom, depending on what feels right at the moment.

Tom lights the various citronella candles and coils to keep the mosquitos at bay while I put last-minute touches on what we’ll be having for dinner. Then, for the first time all day, we totally relax and unwind, engaged in lively chatter, sharing thoughts, dreams, and hopes for the future.

This is our boy, Torn Ear. Enlarge the photo to see his left ear is torn.

Often, we relive travel experiences of the past almost nine years of world travel. At times, we look at old posts and recall the magic moments along the way. It’s never dull. It’s never boring. At other times, we discuss plans for the future. Right now, we consider where we’ll go when our visa stamps are needed by June 30th. At times, we grab my phone and look up the Covid-19 restrictions for various countries which may change daily.

Little and guinea-fowl, getting along nicely.

Then, of course, we have the exquisite opportunity to engage with the wildlife that enters the garden throughout the evening. Regardless of the fact that most wildlife comes to visit us for the pellets or whatever species-appropriate morsels we may have to offer, we can’t help but consider they may be visiting since it “fun” here. We can dream, can’t we?

The concept of living in the moment and dreaming of the future seems to work for us. We can’t help but embrace both of these.  It was through that belief that got us both through those challenges 10 months in India and now, more than ever, we appreciate our sheer determination to get out of India, just in time when Covid-19 has grown to horrific levels.

Big Daddy, politely sharing pellets with the girls.

Need I say, how grateful we are? Never a day passes that we don’t take time to reiterate how happy we are to be here, leaving no thoughts or time for boredom.

It’s always wonderful to see them all sharing the pellets as opposed to headbutting.

Stay safe and continue to protect yourselves and your loved ones.

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

Two Big Daddies head butting for dominance. For more year-ago photos, please click here.

Photos from our new trail cam…What we’ve learned…

Two duikers at night.

When our package arrived from the US through DHL, a few days ago, we were excited that the trail cam we’d ordered from Amazon was inside. Also, my new Fitbit Sense was in the box. We decided Tom would set up the trail cam while I worked on setting up the new Fitbit, both of which presented a few typical set-up challenges.

Finally, we had both pieces of equipment working and I was able to do my first ECG using the Fitbit which had been approved as a reliable device for this purpose by the US FDA (that’s not to say I trust everything they recommend). With a normal result, it did provide me with a little peace of mind, knowing at any time, I can check this on my own.

Most likely, a mating pair.

As for the Campark T-75 trail cam, that setup was a little more time-consuming and still requires some adjustments which we’ll tackle today. After using the trail cam for the first time last night, we realized the first thing we’ll do today, is reducing the number of shots it takes in one night. We ended up with over 5000 photos, way too many to go through each day.

We actually managed to go through all the shots and have included a few of them here today, not necessarily anything unusual from those we see during the day.  No porcupine, yet! But we’re committed to getting a night photo of her and other nocturnal visitors, we may not see during the day. We won’t be using the trail cam during daylight hours, instead, sticking to using our camera and posting those photos in most posts. We’ll post the more interesting trail cam photos.

The same two duikers in the garden at night.

We’d assumed that photo ops would be at a minimum during the busy school holiday week. But, as we sit here now on Sunday close to 1:00 pm, 1300 hours, we’re in awe of how many animals have been here this morning, including two Big Daddies, once of whom stood at the edge of the veranda and barked at us, forcing us to gingerly make our way indoors to give him the space he needed.

This was a first for us. We’re very careful around the Big Daddies. They are huge and dangerous and we take no risks whatsoever. Now, as I write this he has wandered off into the bush, ducking his massive horns as he makes his way through the dense trees and bushes.

We weren’t able to determine which warthog this was.

He ‘tipped” his horns a few times at two young warthogs who seemed determined to antagonize him for pellets. But, they squealed off when he reminded them of his power and strength. The tree he tore down a few days ago has been eaten by a wide array of antelopes and is beginning to look sparse. He meandered over to it this morning but didn’t seem interested in any of the remaining leaves.

It’s amazing how almost every day something new and exciting transpires in the bush. Yesterday, we had a dung beetle rolling a nice-sized ball of dung right next to us on the veranda. The ball got stuck against the edge of the grass and the pool and Tom, using a mop handle, released it for him. Soon, he’s back on his way, happily rolling his ball of dung, hoping to encounter a female in his travels.

We knew warthogs visit during the night.

We only need to sit here long enough for yet another magical event to take place all the while relishing in the regulars who come to call on a consistent basis. Sometimes, when it’s totally quiet, I begin to wonder if they’ll ever return. Then, to our delight, there they are again, gracing us with their presence in exchange for a tasty morsel or two.

As I write here now, 20 or more mongoose have returned after we’ve already fed them this morning, only a few hours or so ago. We gave them scrambled eggs and bits of meat and bones we’d saved for them. They’ll circle around the house a few times and return, perhaps thinking we “forgot” we already gave them treats, suitable for their diet as omnivores with a propensity for meat. Fortunately, today, we’ve saved a little meat for their second visit.

Always searching for pellets.

Today will be another quiet day. So far, the only noise we’ve heard from holidaymakers was the sounds of adults and kids talking loud and screaming in a pool. After a short while, the noises ended and we were able to enjoy another quiet evening in the bush, only occasionally interrupted by the sound of the roars by lions Dezi and Fluffy nearby. Blissful!

Another shot of the two mating duikers whom we rarely see during daylight hours. They are very shy.

Have a fantastic day!

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

Happy caterpillar dancing across the floor! Later on, we learned these caterpillars cause a nasty itch that lasts for days when coming in contact with their venom. We also learned these are Processionary Caterpillars who form a train and crawl up walls, verandas and form a train across the garden. Not so cute after all. For more from the year-ago post, please click here.

A tree pulled down!!!..Poop in the bush?…

Everybody was busy munching on Big Daddy’s fallen tree.

The only animal in our garden right now is The Imposter, this time, without his little buddy, Narrow Earlier we had visits from warthog Lonely Girl, Wildebeest Wille, and bushbuck Torn Ear, Since it’s Saturday, the first weekend day of the 10-day school holiday, here in South Africa, we feel fortunate to see any wildlife at all.Yesterday, an unusual event occurred in our garden. Big Daddy, (kudu) tore down, using his enormous horns, the main branch of a tree in order to gain access to its tasty leaves. As the low-lying bush dries out as winter approaches, male kudus with their massive size and strength can easily knock down a tree.

I was in the second bedroom, putting away laundry when I heard a huge sound hitting the house. Tom was taking a shower and didn’t hear a thing. I ran outside to see what was going on to find Big Daddy, happily munching on the moist, lush green leaves on the downed tree. I wish we would have seen this happen.

He came in for a few nibbles this morning but moved away when the others came.

But, we managed to take a few photos of the end result which don’t do the event justice. Since that transpired a number of other kudus and bushbucks have stopped by to partake of Big Daddy’s rambunctious event. We have no doubt that over the next week or two while the leaves are still green, he and others will stop by to partake.

It doesn’t appear that there was any damage to the house when the tree was felled by Big Daddy. Thank goodness for that. Few of the low-lying trees in the bush are sizable enough to cause damage if they are brought down by wildlife. We’ve seen such an event by elephants in Kruger National Park but never here in Marloth Park. It was rather exciting. When Tom came out to see what had happened during his shower, he too was in awe of the strength of this huge wild animal.

On another note, one of our dear long time readers wrote a comment on yesterday’s post as follows:

“I just have to ask, with all of the animals visiting, how do you handle their poo and pee? I keep busy cleaning with our two teacup dogs and can’t imagine the odor and waste from the many large animals that visit you.” Thanks for writing, Jan!

Miss Kudu in the backside of the tree and Mr. Bushbuck were enjoying the fruits of Big Daddy’s labor.

I don’t recall that we’ve ever posted anything on this topic. One would think the sight and smell of poop and pee would permeate the air in Marloth Park. It does not. Nor, is it a factor of visitors or residents getting “used to it.” There simply is no smell and rarely, and I mean rarely, do we ever see an animal poop in the garden.

Most often, they head out to the bush to “do their business” Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that most animals won’t poop where they eat, or they prefer the deep bush setting as more suitable for them. Yes, on occasion, we may see a warthog or a kudu pee, but we’ve never seen a warthog, bushbuck or kudu poop in our garden. Even then, there’s no smell. I know this sounds hard to believe, but it’s true.

Even Frank and The Misses who spend considerable time on the veranda each day, never leave a telltale sign of their visits, other than their messy piles of birdseed.

Wildebeest Willie stopped by this morning with a friend.

Before we came to Marloth Park for the first time in 2013, we had wondered the same thing. In no time at all, we realized this wasn’t an issue. That’s not to say, we never see wildlife poop when out and about. It’s easy to determine the massive poops of wildebeest. Most locals chuckle when they see it since it’s such an oddity to encounter.

With wildlife only eating vegetation, there’s less of a likelihood of smell. So there it is, folks, the answer to the question that may have left many of our readers curious as to how we can manage to sit outside, day after day, night after night with animals surrounding us.

That’s it for today! We hope you have a lovely weekend.

Photo from one year ago today, April 24, 2020:

This photo is from the repeated photos one year ago while in India in the lockdown. As we walked the souk, deciding where to dine, these varying roof lines of a courtyard caught my eye. For this post from April 24, 2014, please click here. For the year-ago post with more Marrakesh, Morocco photos, please click here.

Our DHL package arrived!!!…Out with the old, in with the new!…

Lots of zebras in the garden eating pellets.

After the dreadful experience with FedEx in India when it took over three months for our package to arrive from the USA, we are thrilled that we received the package yesterday, after only 16 days since it was shipped from our mailing service in Las Vegas, Nevada.

This is probably the quickest we’ve ever received a package. Also, based on the fact all the items in the box were personal effects of one type or another, we weren’t charged any customs fees. As it turned out, the package sat in customs for a week, while the contents were supposedly inspected.

But, after receiving the items, most of which were in unopened Amazon and other sealed white or black plastic bags, we wondered if they did in fact inspect any of the items. South Africa Customs through DHL, contacted us early on inquiring as to the content of the box and required we fill out a detailed form submitted with copies of my passport and the purpose of the contents. It was nowhere near as complicated a process as it had been in India.

This was the first time we had so many zebras stop by.

Tom laughed that my opening the box was compared to opening gifts at Christmas. I must admit it was kind of fun. I had ordered two new bras from Victoria’s Secret and couldn’t wait to toss the tattered bras that were four years old. It was interesting for me to know that three bras alternated regularly, washed but never put into a dryer actually lasted for over three of those four years. While in India, I didn’t wear a bra for 10 months, knowing I needed to extend their wear.

Also included in the box was my new Fitbit Sense watch which I’ll set up today and much to our delight, the recently ordered trail cam from Amazon, that syncs to our phones so when we’re out we can see who’s visiting the garden. That’s exciting. Our only concern is that a nefarious individual(s) may stop by while we’re out and steal it.

Then again, the newer gas braai, a fan, a table, and other items stay outdoors on the veranda at all times and so far, nothing has been taken. Most thefts in Marloth Park have been taking TVs and digital equipment “inside” the house, not necessarily from the exterior. Tom wants to bring it indoors each time we leave the house, but, I am working on convincing him to leave it hooked up outdoors, enabling us to watch the app on our phones while out and about.

We always love a visit from Wildebeest Willies.

I was very excited about the many new tee shirts for me in the package which included short and long sleeves. With winter on the horizon in the next 60 days, it will be great to be able to wear long-sleeved shirts while seated outdoors on the veranda. I’ve been hauling the same tee shirts with me for years, as old as seven or eight years, many with tiny holes and misshapen.

Normally, I’ve only worn, tattered clothes around the house, but lately, I’ve been looking forward to having some new things. The pants I currently have are in good condition when most days, around the house, I wear Capri-length jeans which seem to last forever. When going out to dinner or visiting friends, I always wear long pants or long jeans to protect myself from mosquitos.

It’s hard to get a shot with their heads up. They are always scrounging for pellets or other tasty morsels.

Also, based on the horrific infections and cuts on my legs from ankle to thigh after cardiac bypass surgery, I no longer care to wear shorts, even around the house. It’s a painful reminder of a time I’d just as soon put behind me.

After the box was completely empty, I folded all my new things and neatly placed them in the chest of drawers I use in the second bedroom. Soon, I’ll start tossing the old items. If they were in good condition, I would donate them locally but I don’t care to donate old worn clothing when we see the local workers so nicely dressed.

Then, of course, there’s always Little, back for more love talk and pellets.

That’s it for today, folks. Tonight, we’re off to Jabula for dinner, hoping it won’t be too crowded with holidaymakers. If it is, we’ll order our food to go and head back to the house.

Have a fantastic weekend and be well.

 Photo from one year ago today, April 23, 2020:

A parade of elephants kicking up a lot of dust in Chobe National Park in Botswana. This photo is from a two ago post. See here for details. For the year-ago post, please click here.