We made it through the 104F, 40C, day with ease…Today? The same…Six days and counting…

Due to WiFi issues today, I am unable to post a caption under the main photo below. Instead, the caption is listed below in a paragraph. 

Caption for above photo: “Above is the photo we took this morning of Bad Eye. Her eyelid has improved tremendously without medical intervention. To see her immediately after the injury occurred, please click here.”

It was so hot last night when we went to bed; the pair of jeans I’d washed after dinner was dry this morning. Usually, it takes two to three days for jeans to dry indoors on the drying rack.

Sleeping was easy with the aircon on all night, and it was true, load shedding had ended for now. We both slept through the night without the aircon going off due to another power outage. Over these past eight or ten outages, oddly, we didn’t lose WiFi which was unusual. Power outages aren’t quite as dull when we have nothing to do but stare at the walls or play dumb offline games on our phones when we don’t have WiFi.

Starting Sunday, the temperatures will drop to a high of 69F, 21C, and a low of 59F, 14C. Go figure. Cloudy skies and much-needed rain may follow these low temps. The animals are hungry. This morning I cut up dozens of carrots and a half head of cabbage for the antelopes.

We took this photo of Bad Eye this morning. Her eye is doing so much better. See the photo and link before for the injury when it was new.

A short while ago, we had 14 antelopes in the garden, as shown in today’s photos, all at once, including a duiker, bushbucks, and impalas. It was apparent they were all hungry and thirsty. Many of them drink from the freshwater we put in the birdbath each day. We even ensure Frank has clean water in his little container each day, along with his separate container of seeds.

When checking the weather report, we see it is sweltering in Livingstone, Zambia, right now and will continue during our five-night trip. In a mere six days, we’ll be on our way to Zambia. Packing will be quick and easy, only bringing hot weather casual clothing. None of the restaurants or venues in Livingstone require anything other than very casual attire, although, like South Africa, it generally cools down by about 25 degrees after sunset.

I took a break from preparing this post when I noticed Bad Eye standing at the edge of the veranda.  It was the first time we saw her alone without her three female friends/family. She was never found and treated, or perhaps, the rangers felt she’d heal on her own, which she did. She almost looks like herself again with this injury, as shown in today’s main photo. Her eye has healed beautifully on its own without any medical intervention.

This adorable bushbuck Spikey was among the many visitors this morning.

These animals are tough. They get through the outrageously long barren months of winter with barely any vegetation they can consume available. They exist on the offerings of people like us who don’t hesitate to feed them freely. This must have been going well this winter since few of the wildlife look undernourished or scrawny.

Soon, the rains will come, the trees, bushes, and grasses will grow, and once again, the wildlife will flourish in their environment. We are thrilled this will occur while we prepare to leave, giving us a degree of comfort, knowing they will graze without our intervention.

Today, we do what we can to stay cool, and then tonight, we’ll head to Jabula at 5:00 pm for our usual Friday night social time and dinner. It’s always such fun chatting with the locals in an upbeat environment. It will be hot sitting inside at the bar or outside, but we’ll dress accordingly and be fine.

They were spread out in the garden, preventing us from taking a photo with all visitors.

A few minutes ago, I heard back from Chris (Chris Tours), the same reliable tour and transport guy we used the last two times we were in Zambia, and he did such an excellent job for us. The only inconvenience is that he requires cash payments, not credit cards, to visit an ATM on the drive from Livingstone Airport to our hotel. Easy peasy. He will also arrange and transport us should we decide to do any tours we haven’t already done.

So there it is, folks, post #3343 as we rapidly approach our ninth anniversary of traveling the world.

Be well. Be safe. Be happy.

                                            Photo from one year ago, October 15, 2020:

We posted this photo one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #206. This male lion was resting after a mating session in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. For more photos, please click here.

Hot today!!!…103F, 39C…Fantastic dinner for eight at Amazing Kruger View…Seven days and counting…

The view from Amazing Kruger View, where eight of us gathered for dinner to say goodbye to Rita and Gerhard.

Once in a while, we dine at other restaurants besides Jabula, where we dine every Friday night and will do so as long as we’re in Marloth Park. We feel it’s essential to support the business of our friends, Dawn and Leon, owners of the popular, loved restaurant for its great food, playful ambiance, and exemplary service.

Last night, eight of us gathered at Amazing Kruger View (formerly known as Aamazing River View) as Rita and Gerhard’s last dinner out in the bush before they depart for the USA tomorrow. They won’t be returning to Marloth Park until after we’ve left on January 23, 2022. Of course, we will miss them but will stay in touch via Whatsapp until we meet again.

Including in the group of eight beside us and Rita and Gerhard were Kathy and Don and Louise and Danie. What a perfect group we are. As always, the conversation flowed with ease. The food was quite good, and we may go there again on any day but a Friday.

It was sweltering last night as it is today. While we were at the restaurant dining outdoors, they used water misting pipes which helped keep it much cooler. Once we were situated at our table, we never gave the heat another thought. But today, it’s different and already darned uncomfortable already at 10:49 am. It’s 94F, 34C, and it’s expected to rise to over 100F, 38C, by 2:00 pm, 1400 hrs.

The glare of the sun made it challenging to identify these birds. They may have been some bee-eater.

In our old lives, we have our central air conditioning running cooling the entire house, a huge expense in the summer months. The only aircon is in the bedrooms and is very expensive to run, although it quickly cools the room with the door closed. Last night, we kept it on all night except when we had load shedding between 1:00 am, and 3:30 am, during which I never slept a wink.

Supposedly, load shedding is suspended for an unknown period as of today. But, with this heat, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s instituted again in the next few days when considerable power is utilized during heat spells. Often, as described by local property owners/managers of holiday houses, some holidaymakers leave on the aircon in their rental, on full blast, while they spend the day in Kruger. It’s frustrating to hear about this since it impacts all of us when Eskom decides to stop power “to catch up” (So they say).

Ah, it’s the nature of the beast. Yesterday it was almost as hot as today, and we did fine all day. It’s much cooler inside, so we may sit on the sofa in the living room with the veranda door open, allowing us to easily see if any visitors come. If our wildlife friends come to call on such hot days, we certainly don’t ignore them. We have fresh water in both levels of the bird feeder, water in a bit of cup for Frank and The Misses and the chicks, and food it offered freely.

This morning I got up early to use the oven to bake chicken breasts for tonight’s dinner, hoping the house would cool off a little before the worst of the heat kicked in. Now, as I sit here next to Tom on the sofa, while we listen to Garage Logic, his favorite podcast from Minnesota, Frank and The Misses are eating the seeds and drinking the water. It always makes us smile to see them.

Three birds on a branch over the Crocodile River.

Yesterday morning when I got up, I noticed Frank was in the house once again. He loves coming inside to see what’s going on. He scurried under this sofa when he saw me and headed out the door, which was still ajar from when he entered. We never stop laughing over Frank coming indoors.

The only other time we had a bird walk into our house was in Australia when a magpie loved walking around the kitchen, looking for morsels of food that may have dropped onto the floor when we last cooked a meal.  We call such activity “crumb patrol.” In many countries, windows and doors are left wide open without screens, as is often the case here in Africa. Whereby in the US, if our kids left the door open, we’d holler, “Shut the door!”

You’d think that where there are many insects, both harmless and venomous, there would be screens on windows and doors in most countries. But both in Africa and Australia, where we have had the most insects, it would be different. Even In Italy, there were no screens, and we constantly were fighting off biting flies and horseflies. A bite from one of those flies lasted for days.

Geese in flight on the river.

Oddly, we don’t see a lot of flies here in Marloth Park. You’d think with all the animals and their dung, flies would be prevalent. Instead, its bees, hornets, and other flying insects, along with multitudes of crawling, walking, and slithering creatures, more so as we rapidly approach summer in Africa.

We’re used to all of this. That doesn’t mean we don’t get hot and sweaty. We do, but the more hot days we experience, the less we notice them. It’s the same with insects. In our old lives, I’d scream if I saw a “bug.” Now, I hardly pay any attention unless it’s venomous and needs to be removed from the house. We’ll do what we can to get it safely outdoors if we can.

In one week from today, we’ll be on our way to Zambia, and we’re looking forward to a pleasant trip. On Wednesday, we’ll go to Komati to get a PCR test and have the results the following day, before we leave. Louise will print a copy for us along with a copy of our rental agreement when we re-enter, which is also a required document.

That’s it for today, folks! Have a fantastic day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 14, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day#205. Unable to get as close as we’d like due to the rough terrain in the Serengeti in 2013, we did our best to zoom in for this and other photos on the remaining wildebeests at the tail end of the Great Migration. For more, please click here.

Another change in plans…Who did it???…

This morning, while Tom was seated at the table on the veranda, an animal purposely tipped over the birdbath. See the photo below for the culprit.

We completed and submitted the necessary documents for the boat trip on the Chobe River in Botswana. We put the details on our online calendar. We booked hotel nights on either end and even called the hotel to inquire about getting a Covid-19 PRC test before we departed on October 26th to return to South Africa.

Louise spent hours going back and forth with the company to ensure all the pricing and details were correct. On the contract she submitted, copies of our passports and credit card information were included. We even received a copy of a confirmation.

Two days ago, on Tuesday, Louise received an email from the rep from the cruise company that they were raising the price on us since we were not South African citizens. At first, they required a 100% price increase but last night backed down to a lower amount. This doesn’t work for us.

Yep, it was The Imposter who tipped over the birdbath right before Tom’s eyes. Tom said he accidentally tipped it over when drinking. No worries, The Imposter. We aren’t mad at you!

We are not willing to pay US $3000 ZAR 44627, for three nights on a houseboat, especially without WiFi. It’s just not worth it to us. We’ve already been on both the Chobe and Zambia Rivers on past trips to Zambia for visa stamps. The cruise would be a repeated experience, although a few days longer than in the past.

We told Louise to cancel. Fortunately, they had yet to charge our credit card, so we don’t have to deal with the hassle of getting a refund, nor will we have to have a total of five Covid-19 PCR tests. We’re fine. This morning we booked the three extra nights at the Protea Marriott in Livingstone, Zambia, and all we have left to do is arrange transportation to and from the Livingstone Airport, which we will do today.

Once we arrive at the hotel, we’ll check out any other possible events we may want to see while there. Keeping in mind, we did most of the attractions in and around Zambia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe while in Zambia twice in the past. We aren’t concerned. Instead, we’ll manage to enjoy ourselves as we always do.

Another handsome male impala in the garden.

At the hotel, we’ll have good WiFi and will still be able to post each day. Taxi fare is reasonable, and we’ll dine out each evening, except for the last night when we’ll dine at the hotel’s pleasant restaurant. We are particularly enthused to return to the popular Zambezi Cafe, where they serve delicious Portuguese food.

No, our photos won’t be as exciting as we’d hoped, seeing wildlife on the river. But we’ll do our best to include new images each day, including plenty of food photos from dining out.

Had we not had so many cruises upcoming in 2022, we may have considered the higher price of the houseboat tour. However, there was the fact we don’t care to have a venue suddenly raise prices on us when they determine we are Americans. We tend not to stand on principles stubbornly, but in this case, we feel differently.

Duiker’s diminutive size, at the bottom of the pecking order of antelopes, is shy and always the last to get pellets.

Since the onset of Covid-19, we’ve incurred thousands of extra dollars in lost charges and increased prices. We had to stand firm on this case with our intent to keep costs down to prepare for our exciting upcoming new cruises. It’s always a matter of checks and balances, ultimately what makes the most sense to us.

As soon as I’ve uploaded today’s post, I’ll get back to work on the corrections. At this point, I only have 29 more days of work, and then I’ll spend a week or two working on the four new detailed SEO (search engine optimization) posts requiring days to prepare. I should have all this extra work behind me by December 1st, and I can relax and enjoy the holiday season in the bush during our remaining time in Marloth Park, until January 23, 2022, when we’ll be on the move once again.

We are OK with all of this, especially after so many changes since the pandemic began. We’ve become more resilient and patient during this challenging time which has significantly impacted our travels in the past 20 months. Once we leave Florida in early 2022, we’ll begin to feel our journey has genuinely started again.

May you have a memorable day whatever you do.

                                     Photo from one year ago today, October 13, 2020:

This exquisite bloom which was the size of a soccer ball.
This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #204. This exquisite bloom was the size of a soccer ball. For more photos, please click here.

Fantastic evening on our veranda last night and many other nights…Just the two of us…

Impalas must be hungry to come so close to us. They usually steer clear of humans. We generously fed them.

Note: The horrifying photos we posted two days ago at this post of the duiker who had an encounter with a porcupine has since been darted, treated, and released by the Marloth Park vet with the help of the rangers. She is expected to make a full recovery. We are thrilled with this news.

There are no words to describe how much fun we have every evening, whether we are with friends at their homes, out to dinner, or having sundowners or dinner guests at our place. In reality, we aren’t with friends every evening, although it may often be two or three times a week.

In our old lives in Minnesota, we most likely socialized with friends two or three times a month at most. At times, in the middle of the bitter cold and snowy winters, weeks could pass before we socialized. It wasn’t practical for us or guests to risk being on the roads at night on the dangerously icy roads with drunk or incompetent other drivers.

Once the bush begins to turn green in the next few months, the wildlife will be able to graze once again.

Once spring arrived, our house was often busy with guests, with most events held outdoors at our lovely property. But, here in South Africa, there’s no snow or icy roads, and the distance from one property to another may not be any more than a ten-minute drive.

If we didn’t drive slow to protect the wildlife crossing the roads in the dark or have the necessity of driving slow on bumpy dirt roads filled with potholes, the distances between many bush homes might well be less than ten or fifteen minutes. Thus, with the relative ease of getting to restaurants and friends’ houses, more frequent socialization is typical in the bush.

Besides, the people of South Africa are enthusiastic about getting together, whether citizens or part-time residents, as often as it makes sense for their lifestyle and preferences. For us, we rarely turn down an invitation as long as we don’t already have plans for a specific date.

It’s a long winter, especially for the little duikers who are very shy around humans and other larger antelopes.

We sadly had to decline on a few occasions when we were under the weather for one reason or another, such as when we both had the flu (not Covid-19) or recent painful dental work. Otherwise, we won’t hesitate to say “yes!” to most invitations to get together.

Now, with Rita and Gerhard leaving on Friday to return to their home in the US and Kathy and Don both returning to Hawaii by December, we feel fortunate to have several other friendships we’ll cultivate in their absence. Of course, we always have Friday and Saturday nights at Jabula, enjoying time with Dawn and Leon and engaging with many other locals we’ve come to know. There’s no doubt in our minds that we’ll never be bored.

During the day, we each do our own thing, although we may be in each other’s presence as we are right now situated on the veranda, working on our laptops, tossing pellets, cabbage, and carrots to our wildlife friends. This morning, we fussed over ten bushbucks and a few duikers in the garden, along with a few warthogs, Frank and the Misses, and Broken Horn.

Impalas are beautiful with their unique markings.

When we don’t have plans with friends, we create our party on the veranda around 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs each evening. We sip on our beverages, whether it’s light wine for me, a cocktail for Tom, or an iced tea for both of us. We play music on our Bluetooth speaker playing songs from our distant past, feed the visiting wildlife, and chat enthusiastically, well into the evening, when we finally decide to go inside for a wonderful homemade dinner. It’s always special.

We dream about the future and reminisce over the past, our hearts filled with the many memories we’ve created. Together, over 30 years, we have never had a dull moment, as we playfully interact with one another for the remainder of the evening, laughing, smiling, and appreciating our unique quality of life.

Yes, sometimes things don’t go exactly as we’d like when illness befalls one of us, mostly me. And, no doubt, we run into obstacles of one type or another along the way. We never forget for a moment how blessed we are to be together.

May your life be fulfilling and purposeful.

Photo from one year ago today, October 12, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #203. An eland antelope, reasonably common in the Maasai Mara, posed for us in the morning sun. For more photos, please click here.

Another “day in the life”…

Usually, there are dozens of helmeted guinea-fowl in the garden, also searching for pellets. They swallow them whole!

As I sit here on the veranda on Monday morning, coffee in hand, the day is sunny, cool, slightly windy, and Frank is on the floor next to me pecking at his seeds and drinking from his little container of water. He makes cute little chirping sounds when eating, illustrating how happy he is.

I can see four bushbucks in the bush who gingerly approach, looking for another handout of pellets. We comply. There’s Thick Neck, Mom and Baby, Stingy and Spikey. Earlier this morning, Tom had seen four or five more bushbucks, Lonely Girl (warthog), Broken Horn (wildebeest), and more.

I stumbled across this old photo of Tiny, with his hair fluffed up when other warthogs were in the vicinity, stealing his pellets.

Today, the last of the holidaymakers will leave Marloth Park now that the school holidays have ended. The vehicles on the road have thinned to barely any activity. The parking lots at the Marlothi Centre and the Bush Centre will no longer be nearly impossible to enter. The stores in Komatipoort will have their usual local Monday shoppers.

Soon, Tom will drop me at Louise‘s Info Centre, where Kathy will be waiting for Rita and me for the three of us to head to Stoep’s Cafe in Komati for “girl talk” and breakfast. Tom has a dentist appointment at 11:00 with Dr. Luzaan to have his teeth cleaned. I’ll do the same in a month or more after my extraction heals a little more (it’s on the mend).

Two hornbills were banging on the kitchen window, an almost daily occurrence.

Rita and Gerhard leave on Friday to return to Washington for the holiday season. Kathy will be leaving Marloth Park in November for Hawaii, and Don will also leave for Hawaii in early December. We’ll miss them all and hope they will be able to be here when we return in December 2022, only 14 months from now. My 75th birthday party will be three months later, and we’re hoping, if it works out for them, that they will be able to attend. It’s a long way from the US, and we’d understand if they can’t make it.

In the meantime, we’ll cultivate relationships with other locals we’ve come to know and enjoy and spend the holiday season right here in Marloth Park. It will be hot, humid and the bush will be rife with snakes and insects. But we’ve experienced these issues in the past, and we’ve come to expect them.

Load shedding will continue twice a day for a total of 5 hours each day without power. It is expected to stop by Thursday, but we’ll experience the upcoming awful heat during the night when it occurs between 3:00 am, and 5:30 am. Hopefully, it does stop as described, since on Thursday,  Friday, and Saturday, the temperatures will range from 99F to 104F, 37C to 40C. It certainly gets hot during the night without aircon for almost three hours.

Zebras on the road while on our way to the market.

Kathy, Rita, and I had a great time during girl talk at Stoep Cafe this morning. Suddenly, I realized it was 11;00 and I needed to walk over to Dr. Luzaan’s office while Tom was getting his teeth cleaned. Once he was done, after a great chat with the dentist, we headed to the pharmacy and Spar Market, down the road in Komatipoort.

By the time we returned to the house, load shedding had an hour to go. We put away the groceries, and soon the power returned, as expected. I did a little chopping and dicing for tonight’s dinner of homemade taco salads with seasoned ground meat for Tom and seasoned chicken and prawns for me.

I had made the taco seasoning spices myself since those at the market in the little packets are loaded with sugar, flour, and chemicals, making them high in carbs and undesirable for either of us.

All is well. We are as content as we could be. Go Vikings! Yesterday, they finally won a game!

Have a fabulous Monday!

Photo from one year ago today, October 11, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #202. The cubs took a break to relax. For more photos, please click here.

Nature can be cruel..Heartbreaking photos…Thanksgiving dinner in the bush…A startling revelation from last year…

This heartbreaking photo of a precious little duiker who encountered a porcupine, who responded by releasing quills, makes us cringe in horror. How can she possibly survive these massive injuries? (Not our photo). From this site: “Porcupines are solitary, slow-moving animals that largely keep to themselves unless threatened. The quills usually lie flat against the porcupine’s body until they encounter a threat, at which point they “puff up” and erect their quills, swinging their spiny tails until the threat either leave them alone or gets a sharp whack and a face, hand, or paw full of quills.  Quills are stiff, hollow hairs with microscopic, backward-facing barbs at the tip (kind of like tiny fish hooks), so when they come into contact with flesh—human or animal—they get stuck and pull free from the porcupine’s skin.”

When we saw today’s photos on Facebook and Kathy sent them to me via Whatsapp, we were both heartsick over the devastation caused by a porcupine to this precious duiker. Hopefully, he’ll be found by the rangers and treated by the Marloth Park vet. Some of the quills appear to be deeply penetrated. We can only imagine how painful this is.

We hesitated to post these photos, but as we always say, we tell “it like it is,” and when 99% of our images can put a smile on ours and our reader’s faces. The bush isn’t always pretty. As we’ve always mentioned, we aren’t those people who may nonchalantly say, “Well, it’s all a part of nature.”

We feel deep sorrow for animals in pain as we do when humans are suffering. Animals are no less important in our world, and without them, we wouldn’t be on this planet. We are all integral players in the ecosystem.

When we hear of humans losing a pet, we certainly understand their grief and sorrow. Some may say, “It was just a dog or a cat.” But, those pets play a huge part in our joy in daily lives which are often riddled with challenges. The relationships and love of pets can provide great comfort.

Over the years we’ve spent in Africa, we witnessed many heartbreaking wildlife injuries. Sadly today’s photos sit at the top of this list, and we only hope this poor little duiker gets some help soon. Unfortunately, with the extent of the damage the quills may have caused, euthanasia might be the only option.

On a more positive note, last night, we attended a Thanksgiving dinner celebration at Kathy and Don’s lovely home overlooking the Crocodile River. As mentioned in yesterday’s post here, we brought the two pies I’d made, Rita brought the green beans, and Kathy made the balance of the delicious meal: turkey and mashed potatoes with gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and a delicious salad.

Of course, I only ate turkey, green beans, and salad which was perfectly satisfying. I couldn’t help but drool a little when everyone was eating the cherry pie with ice cream and whipped cream and pumpkin pies, also topped with whipped cream, both of which I loved in my old life.

Please, if any Marloth Park residents or visitors see this duiker, report it immediately to the rangers. (Not our photo)

But, I didn’t take even a bite when the others did a little coaxing, encouraging me to try a taste. For me, after all these years of strict low carb, even a small portion could set me on a destructive path. One bite would never be enough when I’ve always had a sweet tooth.

Load shedding began during the dinner party and lasted for two hours while we dined at their big dining room table, drinking wine (except Tom, who drinks brandy and Sprite Zero) in the dark. There were plenty of candles on the table, allowing us to see what we were eating. The night had cooled down considerably from a sweltering day, with heavy wind and rain with the windows open in the dining room, and we were all comfortable. It was a grand night indeed.

In today’s heading, we wrote: “A startling revelation from last year.” Yesterday, while I was working on corrections with only about one month until I will be done, I came across this post from January 23, 2020, while we were still in Arizona, preparing to leave for India in less than a week.

Contained in the post was our first mention of Covid-19. We were sharing details of our upcoming cruise from Mumbai, scheduled to sail away on April 3, 2020, shortly after the end of our private tour of India. As it turned out, the cruise was canceled due to Covid, and we had to cut our tour of India short by many weeks, again due to Covid. It was on March 24 that our 10-month isolation in lockdown began at the Marriott Hotel in Mumbai. Wow! That seems like a long time ago!

It’s still with us. Be careful. Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, October 10, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India on day #201. The veranda to our tent at Camp Olonono in the Maasai Mara in Kenya.  Approaching, it took our breath away. For more photos, please click here.

Hoping it was Tiny!…Photo comparison…

Yesterday afternoon, when this warthog stopped by, we were hopeful that it was Tiny. After careful examination of the photo of Tiny shown below, we were certain he was not Tiny.

Since we returned from the US at the end of July, we haven’t seen Tiny, who, along with Little, was our favorite warthog. Expressive faces, eye contact, and response to the names we’ve given them, these two warthogs always make me smile. On the other hand, Tom isn’t quite as attached for me but has kept an eye out for Tiny when we haven’t seen him since we’d returned.

This is a photo of Tiny we posted on February 21, 2021. The differences between him and the pig we saw yesterday are distinct.  Note the eye bags, the size, and shape of the facial and temple warts, and of course, the size and shape of the tusks.

Little often visits two or three times a day, seldom missing a day. If we don’t see him during any day, we can always count on him stopping by around 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs. He loves to appear when we are sitting on the veranda, ensuring he gets our attention to toss him pellets. This always makes us laugh.

Day after day, we continually check every giant tusked warthog to see if it’s Tiny, keeping in mind many such animals look very similar. But over the years we’ve spent in Marloth Park, we have learned to 0observe identifying characteristics that distinguish one animal of a particular species from one another.

Such characteristics on warthogs include:

  • Size of tusks and variance in each tusk’s size
  • Size of facial warts on males on both their cheeks and temples. Females don’t have facial warts and small temple warts but have white whiskers in varying sizes that aid in identifying them.
  • Body size can vary considerably, but, along with the above, it helps identify warthogs.
  • Bags under the eyes, most prominent in older males
  • Personality – it’s easy to detect a particular warthog when they are overly timid or bossy (Little is bossy and persistent while Tiny was not) along with the other identifying characteristics
  • Appearing alone, as a twosome or with more warthogs, with “sounders” being as small as three, as large as ten or more. Often males are “friends” and graze the bush together and groom each other. It’s a rarity to see females together without piglets. Moms will often hang out with another mom and her young, supporting each other and even going as far as nursing each other’s piglets.

We must admit we are more interested in male warthogs based on their seemingly more quirky behavior. As I write this, there is a lone female in the garden, whom we call Lonely Girl. She is shy without much of a distinctive personality.  And yet, there are many male warthogs we see over a week that we can easily identify as a regular or a new visitor.

We only observe one or two new male visitors each week. They eat and wander off, never to return. Daily, we see “regulars,” all of whom we enjoy and seem to respond to their various names and the sounds of our voices. Tom isn’t as excited about warthogs as I am, but as mentioned above, when I am busy indoors, he keeps out watchful eye, always looking for Tiny.

Regardless of what I am doing, when he tells me there’s a large, sizeable-tusked warthog with huge, droopy warts on his face on the premises, I come running outside with the camera to see if it’s Tiny. Sadly, time after time, we’ve been disappointed.

Was he culled while we were away? We haven’t heard that warthogs have been culled in the past few months. Mostly, impalas and kudus were taken to Lionspruit to thin out the huge populations in Marloth Park and to provide food for the lions, Fluffy and Desi, who reside in Lionspruit, hence the name.

Yesterday, Tom hollered out to me when I was in the house, “Hurry,” he said, “There’s a large pig with big tusks in the garden.” I grabbed my phone to quickly bring up a photo of Tiny I have on my home screen. I was extremely excited that it was him upon first inspection.

However, when comparing the photo of Tiny with the new visitor, we both sadly realized it wasn’t him. Now, we wonder if we’ll ever see him again in our remaining three and a half months in Marloth Park. It’s hard to say. He was huge, and he looked very old. He could easily have died from old age or illness, been hit by a car, or made his way under the fence into Kruger National Park, never to return. We’ll never know. He, like Little, was a loner.

On occasion, Little appears with the same female and two fast-growing female piglets. We referred to them as his “family” since the otherwise greedy pig doesn’t share food with anyone but them. Like many animals in the wild, generally, fathers don’t participate in the upbringing of their young. It’s always fun to see ostriches, who can remain as a mating pair for life, and the dad is equally responsible for rearing the chicks.

In any case, we’ll continue to keep an eye out for Tiny and hope we’ll be able to post a new photo of him if and when he returns.

Have a fantastic weekend!

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

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #199. Like all animals in the wild, this female lion is constantly on the lookout for the next meal to feed her cubs, who were lying under this tree. For more photos, please click here.

Whew!…Lots of paperwork to go on a boat…

Once again, the male bushbuck in the background might be this baby’s dad since he is often with the mom, as shown at the forefront of this photo.

When we started booking the houseboat tour on the Chobe/Zambezi River, we expected there would be a certain amount of paperwork. But, little did we realize how time-consuming it would be for both Louise and ultimately for us. With Covid-19 issues addressing entering into three countries on this one trip, it’s a paperwork nightmare, and bless her heart, Louise has done everything she can to make it as seamless as possible for us. We appreciate her hard work.

Then, we ran into the issue of payment. Not only is there a comprehensive contract for the three-night houseboat tour, but it was accompanied by a lengthy questionnaire we had to complete and submit. On the forms, they requested payment by bank transfer.

If you’ve been reading our posts over the past several years, you know we are adamantly opposed to bank transfers. But, as it turns out, our bank refuses to allow bank transfers to certain countries, including most of those on the African continent, due to excessive amounts of fraud. Thus, we always pay with credit cards. Plus, we get lots of points when we use certain cards.

Louise worked it out, and the company agreed to accept a credit card, although they are charging us a 4% fee of the total price, which resulted in a total cost for the boat of ZAR 31585, US $2114. However, transportation from our hotel in Zambia to the various borders and then returning to the hotel four days later is included. We paid a premium for that service, but undoubtedly, there less risk of timing errors and confusion.

A one-month-old baby bushbuck is behind her mom in this photo. We tried for a better photo, but she was timid and wouldn’t stay still for a moment.

Also, the cost of the four Covid tests is included. We’ll need the only additional Covid test from the hotel on October 25th, when we return from the boat, to be used for our return entry into South Africa. Whew! What a lot of monkey business Covid has created for travel.

We run the risk that the entire thing could be called off at the last-minute if new Covid restrictions are implemented or changed between now and then.

Our round-trip flight from Nelspruit to Livingstone, Zambia, is ZAR 19274, US $1289. In total, with tips, two nights’ meals when at the hotel;  the small amounts we paid for the two nights in the hotel, using our points; transportation to and from the airport, should be, at most ZAR 58809, US $4000.

Although this is expensive for a total of five nights away, it’s a whole lot less than it would have cost us to return to the US for three months, instead of living here in South Africa, where it cost so much less. At least we’ll get our visas stamped and can relax over the remaining three months we’ll spend here.

This morning, nine bushbucks stopped by. We gave them carrots, cabbage, and pellets.

Travel planning is always time-consuming in one way or another, as you travelers out there so well know. Planning one trip can take days, let alone planning for an entire life of world travel, such as we do. But, if we had a house and lived in one location, we’d be mowing the lawn, shoveling snow, painting and making repairs around the house, getting cars serviced, sending Christmas cards, decorating for Christmas, and other holidays, baking, cooking, house cleaning and more.

Life is filled with trade-offs. For us, the simplicity of those times allows us to kick back and relax without a care in the world, while at the same time, we’re embracing other cultures, other scenery, wildlife, oceans, mountains, plains, and savannahs, we couldn’t be more content. And…grateful.

May your bliss and ours continue.

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

Oxpeckers can dig into the flesh of animals to extract parasites
This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #198. Oxpeckers can dig into the flesh of animals to extract parasites, ticks, and other insects that may burrow under their skin, as is the case of this kudu. Sadly once the insect is extracted, the oxpecker may continue to peck at the injured site, making matters worse. The photo was taken in Marloth Park, South Africa, in 2018. For more photos, please click here.

Moving right along…Exercise, a must!…Fantastic night out with friends!..

Our friends Alan and Fiona at her birthday celebration at Bucklers on the Crocodile River.

Today, we’ll be wrapping up the plans for our trip to Zambia. It’s hard to believe we will be flying away in 15 days. Louise has done a fantastic job arranging and overseeing this for us, and we couldn’t be more grateful. No doubt, at times when we’re booking a new itinerary requiring so much time and work, it’s been wonderful to have her handle this part.

Of course, this process has required us to research our options and decide what we’d like to do, as in the case when using a travel agent, which we seldom do. We’d rather have a tight rein on what we’re booking and all the nuances that go with it. But, in this case, Louise insisted on working on this for us, and we couldn’t resist the offer with so much on our minds with the recent change in plans.

On another note, a few days ago, when I had an appointment with Dr. Theo, he prescribed a comprehensive set of stretching exercises, neatly and clearly defined in a booklet, similar to that which is used by physical therapists. He suggested that doing these each day may help improve my ability to walk with more stability.

I couldn’t wait to start the exercises and have decided to do them in two-time slots each day, stopping twice while doing the daily post. I was pleased today to notice I am a little bit sore after my first time, reminding me of how much more I need to move.

A small band of our mongoose friends.

During this casual, lazy lifestyle in the bush, I didn’t get enough exercise since walking on uneven dirt roads is precarious. We returned the treadmill we’d borrowed months ago, from a kindly local, when we thought we were leaving. So now, these exercises come at the perfect time to entice me to get to exercising at home.

Although I burn a lot of steps each day according to my FitBit, it’s not nearly enough to provide the activity that I need. Tom says he gets exercise by getting up from his chair on the veranda every 10 minutes to feed the visiting animals and then vigorously tossing countless handfuls of pellets their way. I don’t know if you’d call this exercise, but at least he’s getting up out of his chair.

Last night, we had dinner at Buckler’s to celebrate Fiona’s birthday.  Alan’s son, Nick, and daughter-in-law, Joan,  joined us, and we loved meeting them. We had such a great evening! We arrived at 4:30 pm (1630 hrs) and didn’t leave until 10:00 pm (2200 hrs). The conversation was lively and animated, the food good (although small portions), and the views over the river were spectacular as usual, although it was a cloudy evening.

This main photo of Alan and Fiona was taken with my phone since I forgot to bring the camera any significant sightings on the Crocodile River. My phone’s camera could zoom to shoot, but we were so busy in conversation that we never paid much attention to the minimal activity on the river.

Impalas are hungry and dare to close us for pellets. They are typically skittish around humans.

Back home, we settled in for the night, and after a good night’s sleep, we’re both content as we could be. Today, when Louise receives the final contract for our upcoming river cruise, we’ll head over to her office, The Info Centre, to pay for the charges. In tomorrow’s post, we will report the costs for the upcoming trip with the contract in hand.

Today is otherwise a low-key day. I’ve already prepared most of the food for tonight’s dinner, finished my exercises, did a few loads of laundry, and did some work on financial stuff online. My dry socket has finally stopped hurting, much to my relief, and life is good.

Happy day to all

                                       Photo from one year ago today, October 6, 2020:

One year ago, this photo was posted in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #197. We realize that this gruesome photo may be difficult for some to see. But, it’s a part of the food chain which we decided we would accept such scenes as a reality of the life cycle in the wild. This crocodile was consuming either an impala or gazelle. For more, please click here.

Further planning for trip to Zambia…

This is Mom and Baby. They visit many times each day.
This tiny bushbuck is most likely only a few weeks old. Mom keeps her young hidden in the bush for a few weeks to protect them from predators. She visits her young daily to nurse and to eat her excrement to prevent predators from finding her. Once the baby is grown enough, she’ll be introduced to the wild, where she’ll learn to forage for food. Even a youngster such as this enjoys eating pellets but is very skittish around humans and other wildlife.

Louise, our dear friend, property manager, and travel and event planner is busy getting us the best possible price for our exciting upcoming event once we arrive in Zambia on October 21st. By the end of today, we will have booked a three-night cruise on a fantastic upscale houseboat on the beautiful, wildlife-rich Chobe River.

We’ll stay in the familiar-to-us hotel on the first night, the Protea Hotel in Livingstone, and again on the last night on October 25th. We’ll return to South Africa the following day after our 5-night trip for our visa stamps.  The Chobe River is located in Botswana, a short distance from the hotel.

Today, we’re awaiting a quote from Chris, the same driver/tour company operator we used on our previous two trips to Zambia, to provide transportation to and from the Livingstone Airport and back and forth from the boat landing. Once again, we’ll embark on a small boat to get across the Zambezi River to our houseboat.

These three bushbucks visited together and shared pellets. Could this be Mom, Dad, and Baby? Dads don’t usually don’t participate in the raising of the young.

While making this crossing, we’ll be at what is called a quadripoint as indicated below:

A quadripoint is a point that touches the border of four distinct territories. Also known as the “four corners of Africa,” these four countries meet at the eastern end of the Caprivi Strip – Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. There are more than 150 tripoints in the world but only ONE international quadripoint.

Thus, for the third time, we’ll experience this interesting scenario that fascinated us the last two times we visited this unique point on the river. I should mention the Chobe River runs into the Zambezi River, the largest river in Africa. However, based on where we can fly from Nelspruit, it makes sense for us to sail on the Chobe hundreds of miles (km) further upstream.

We are trying to keep our costs down and accomplish this goal of getting our visa stamps. Why not have a great adventure in the process?

Stringy, who arrived months ago with vines hanging from his horns, has become quite a regular, even responding to his name.

This morning Tom booked our hotel reservations on either end, two nights at the Protea Hotel in Livingstone, where we’d stayed previously. It is a lovely property, and the price includes a king-sized bed, free WiFi, and a lovely breakfast. We had two remaining free nights to use from Hotels.com (the link on our site) that covered most of the cost. We only had the pay the shortfall of about US $70, ZAR 1052 for both nights combined.

While we were in lockdown in India for ten months, we continued to use our free nights toward the bill, leaving us with a handful of free nights for the upscale hotel in Henderson, Nevada, in July when we used in part we visited the US. With only these two free nights left, we decided to use these now.

With this plan, we’re excited to travel for our visa stamps. There was no way either of us was willing to sit in a hotel room in Livingstone for five days and nights. Going on the water, which we always love to do, seemed to be the most exciting and adventurous for us when we’ll see plenty of many unique sites and take fascinating side trips on a smaller boat.

Wildebeests, who have small eyes and poor vision, love to hang out with zebras whose stripes tend to confuse predators and thus provide some protection for the gnu.

That’s all on that trip for now. We’re also busy planning our trip to Florida at the end of January. We both are very busy with all these plans. By the end of this month, after we return from Zambia, we’ve decided to prepare and post our new itinerary for the first time in a few years on the day of our ninth world travel anniversary on October 31, 2021.

Many of our readers have inquired about our itinerary, and as we’ve begun to book more and more into the future, we realize the time has come to put together this essential part of our world travels. Please stay tuned for more.

Be healthy. Be safe. Be content.

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

We posted this photo one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #196. This appeared to be some horse far as we made our way to the Maasai Mara in Kenya in 2013. Look at the reflection of our plane on the ground! What a sight! I couldn’t believe we were inside that tiny thing! For more photos, please click here.