Yesterday’s memorial service…

This is Derek, the duiker who is a mate to Delilah. He is timid and won’t jump the fence to the nearby garden, although Delilah doesn’t hesitate to come over.

Yesterday morning, we left the house at 10:50 to arrive on time for the memorial service for our friend Bruce Barnes who passed away last week, only six days after our friend and houseguest Jeff passed away at our holiday home on his “dream visit to Africa to see the wildlife. We were shaken by losing two friends in such a short period.

Bruce and his dear wife Sinndee were long-time residents and homeowners in Marloth Park. Bruce owned a thriving electrical business serving the needs of Marloth Park and surrounding area residents. He was only 58 years old and sadly passed from the horrible COPD, which had taken the lives of other dear friends in the past 11 or 12 years.

We met Sinndee and Bruce at Jabula many moons ago and started an easy and delightful friendship with them. We spent last Christmas Day at their home with their family, Dawn, Leon, and a few other friends. It was a day we’ll never forget. We were grateful for the opportunity to spend Christmas at their home and to feel so included.

Zebra visitors this morning.

The Sunday before our friends Connie, Jeff, and Lindsey arrived, we visited Bruce at their home, and it was apparent he was struggling to breathe. It was heartbreaking to see him struggling, but he and Sinndee had a good attitude and continued to make plans incorporating the oxygen equipment they’d have to take with them whenever they’d leave the house.

But, when we left their home a few hours after we arrived, we didn’t feel optimistic about Bruce being able to travel. And then, only a few weeks later, Sinndee found him at home when she returned from work. He had given up the flight and succumbed to this dreadful disease while she was at work. We are heartbroken for her and her family.

A local pastor conducted the memorial service. It was beautifully presented with about 40 family members and friends in attendance at the outdoor braai at Jabula, which easily had ample room for everyone. Dawn, Leon, David, and their staff provided excellent service for beverages and casual lunch-type delicious food. I didn’t eat anything since most of it was sandwiches and fried foods, but I had breakfast before we left the house, so it didn’t phase me not to eat.

A mom and a growing youngster eating pellets.

When the memorial ended and guests started wandering off, we headed to Daisy’s Den to purchase two more bales of lucerne to be delivered next week on Saturday and Wednesday. Tom had to use the squirt gun to chase off the four zebras who were about to wipe it out if we didn’t intervene. They left enough lucerne for other animals who will stop to eat the next few days.

After Daisy’s Den, we dropped off the keys to Louise and Danie’s place for the two guest houses on our property, where our guests stayed for two weeks. Before we knew it, after lively conversation ensued, we were sitting at the table on their veranda, having sundowners (it was 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs., by then), enjoying every moment with the two of them and the same visitors coming into their garden as do ours, which is only five houses away.

I must admit I was a little envious to see their francolin family who visited us last week but always returns to their home. It was a Frank and The Misses and one adorable fast-growing chick. Their other five chicks had been eaten by the genet that often visits at night, perhaps the same genet we get here. The parents were keeping a watchful eye on their remaining chick. It was interesting to watch their behavior. We do miss having Franks at our house.

Zebras often drink from the pool: Lollie, photobombing.

By 5:00 pm, 1700 hrs., we were back at our house with plenty of time to make dinner and enjoy a restful evening at our holiday home.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, October 5, 2021:

Stringy, who arrived months ago with vines hanging from his horns, has become quite a regular, even responding to his name. Now he visits this house, almost two kilometers away from the last. For more photos, please click here.

Memorial service this morning…Why so many passports in the past ten years?…

Nina and Norman often visit together. Such a handsome couple.

It’s hard to get myself ready for the day when there is load shedding every morning from 7:00 to 9:30. The bathroom is dark unless I open the blinds, and I wouldn’t say I like opening them and showering with the window facing the street. Humans walk on the street in the mornings on their way to work, but if it isn’t humans, a kudu or wildebeest could easily stand at the window and look at me. This can startle me and yet be funny at the same time.

I tried to nap a few days ago (no luck), and first, a kudu stood at the window with her nose touching the glass, looking for me. Minutes later, a wildebeest did the same. They had a look on their faces that asked. “When are  you comin’ out?”  Pellets were on their minds.

The poor animals are hungry, and some have begun to look very lean. Hopefully, the rains will soon fill the bush with tasty green vegetation for them to eat. Last week, we had glorious rain for two days, but we need much more in the days to come.

They posed for the camera!

We have fed lucerne, carrots, apples, veggie scraps, pellets, meat for the mongoose, yogurt for the bushbabies, and bird seeds. Yesterday, we tossed out a few ripe bananas for the bushbucks, but before they got to them, a starling came by, pecked open the peel, and pecked at the tender contents. Even the birds are hungry.

The bales of lucerne have been especially nourishing for them, which we’ll continue until the rains come.  October is the very beginning of the rainy season, as shown in the graph below:

Photo from one year ago today, October 4, 2021:

Frank’s and The Misses’ chicks came to call! For more photos, please click here.

Where are we going in 2023?…Planning for the future…More of Tom’s great photos…

“The Eurasian hoopoe (Upupa epops) is the most widespread species of the genus Upupa. It is a distinctive cinnamon-colored bird with black and white wings, a tall erectile crest, a broad white band across a black tail, and a long narrow downcurved bill. Its call is a soft “oop-oop-oop.” It is native to Europe, Asia, and the northern half of Africa. It is migratory in the northern part of its range. It spends most of the time on the ground probing for grubs and insects. The clutch of seven to eight eggs is laid in an existing cavity. The eggs are incubated by the female and hatch asynchronously. Some ornithologists treat the African and Madagascar hoopoes as subspecies of the Eurasian hoopoe.”

We will leave Marloth Park in approximately eight months and may be gone for a year. We’ve decided we need to pick up the pace and visit those locations we’ve had on our minds for a long time. It’s been easy to settle into an easy routine in this blissful environment, this land of wonder, wildlife, and ever-expanding friendships.

Plus, the low cost of living for us in this country can’t be matched anywhere we’ve visited in the past ten years of world travel. (Yes, this is our tenth anniversary month which we’ll celebrate. We left Minnesota to travel the world on October 31, 2012).

Once again, Tom took some fantastic photos of this Eurasian hoopoe.

Of course, we’re considering what we’ll write about on that special day, four weeks from today. Instead of repeating places we’ve been in the past years, which we’ve mentioned repeatedly, we’ve decided to post a new itinerary and the most significant highlight of each of the ten years with photos, if available.

We are building the itinerary, something we haven’t done in a long time. So much has changed due to the pandemic, which has prevented us from booking venues beyond a few months in front of us, except for a few cruises, some of which have been canceled over the past two years.

Tom was excited to take photos of the woophoe.

At this point, engaged in research, we’ll avoid mentioning where we’ll be going until we are able to pin down some venues, pricing, and dates. By the end of this month, we’ll have an idea of what will work for us. As always, the cost of these preferred locations is a significant factor.

We lost a lot of money on bookings during the pandemic, and we don’t want to risk that happening again. Also, after paying entirely out-of-pocket for my heart surgery and subsequent surgeries in 2019, we’ve had to tighten our belts and be very selective about what we choose to book.

Several Big Daddies have been eating the leaves from this bright green tree in our garden.

Plus, we must renew our passports since most countries require a passport with at least six months left until it expires. We’ll have to start this process soon to be able to go on a few of our upcoming cruises in 2023. We’ll start that process soon. Since we began traveling in 2012, we’ve used up our ten-year passport, a two-year passport, and a four-year passport. We’ll explain why we had so many US passports in tomorrow’s post. Please check back for that information tomorrow.

It’s been a long time since we allowed ourselves to become engrossed in travel planning, other than going on those trips to obtain a new visa stamp for South Africa. As much as we’re enjoying our time in this country, we realize it’s time we can think about the future and fulfill some of our objectives to visit unique locations that have always been on our minds.

A female kudu was eating a potato we’d tossed into the garden. We had potatoes left from our recent friend’s visit. Many antelopes dig for roots and thus enjoy eating most root vegetables.

With the school holiday in full force right now with many holidaymakers in Marloth Park, we plan to stay put most of the week, except for a memorial service for our friend Bruce tomorrow at 11:00 am at Jabula, whom we visited a few weeks ago, before Connie, Jeff and Lindsey arrived, when sadly, Jeff passed away at our home. Bruce was suffering from COPD, a life-ending pulmonary disease.

It’s hard to digest that yet another dear friend has passed away in a mere ten days. We offer our love and prayers for the loved ones left behind in their time of great sorrow and sadness.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, October 3, 2021:

Multiple species in the garden. For more photos, please click here.

Settling back into our lives in the bush…

Tom took this fantastic morning photo of a colorful agama lizard while it was looking at him.

When the bale of lucerne arrived early this morning, we were thrilled. In a matter of minutes, two wildebeests, Bad Ear and Earl came and dug into it with such enthusiasm that we feared there wouldn’t be enough left for other animals. After their fill, they took off, leaving plenty for the other animals.

Tom grabbed a big chunk of the bale and put it in the garden close to the house where all the bushbucks and duikers stop by several times a day. The warthogs can’t access that area, and since they can get very destructive, it makes sense to put some of the lucerne in the side garden next to the veranda.

Speaking of destructive warthogs, which Lollie is not, there is a warthog our friend Lindsey named “Trouble” that somehow manages, with her bulky weight, to climb up onto the wood deck adjacent to the pool. This happened before we left for Jabula for our usual Friday night dinner.

The only way Tom could get her to leave was back the way she had entered, of the wood area of the veranda by the pool. She was obviously panicky when she couldn’t quite figure out how to retrace her steps. The only option Tom had was to shoo her in the right direction using a harmless squirt gun our friends Marylin and Gary left for us.

They look grumpy!

The process worked. After a five-minute scuffle between the water and Trouble, she managed to escape. I doubt she’ll try to do that again. It’s funny how each of the animals possesses its unique personality. Some are gentle and unobtrusive, and others are persistent and annoying.

Last night, we had a pleasant evening at Jabula with our dear friends Dawn and Leon and other patrons who also enjoy sitting at the bar as we do.  There’s rarely a lull in the conversation at that bar, but if there is, we only need to wait for a few minutes while chatting amongst ourselves, and moments later, others will arrive to liven up the scene.

We consistently arrive by 5:00 pm, 1700 hrs., and usually head home by 8:00 pm, 2000 hrs. We’ll be full from the delicious meal and have had all the drinks we care to have. Even though I drink wine with 5.5% alcohol content, compared to 13.5% to 14.5%, after a few glasses and a can of Sprite Zero, I’ve had my fill.

When we’re with other guests, we’ll stay later when involved in a fascinating conversation. This has happened on many occasions over the years. But, we always prefer to get back to our house before 9:00 pm, 2100 hrs., to be able to stream an episode of a series we may be binge-watching.

This morning, we headed to the shops in Marloth to buy a jar of a cream that I’d used in the past. Bulbinella helps with itching from bites or rashes. Often, at night I awaken to something itching. It could be as simple as one chigger bite. I’ve tried many products, and this cream seems to help the most. Tom rarely has any itching during the night or even during the day.

We had lucerne delivered this morning. Norman and Noah arrived in no time to partake of their favorite food.

We’re staying in for dinner after being out the past four evenings and will eat leftovers we froze earlier and defrosted overnight in the refrigerator. We aren’t buying much meat lately due to the load shedding, often for as much as ten hours a day. There will be load shedding tonight when we’d be reheating our dinner. We can always reheat our dinner on the gas stove using a lighter to light a burner if necessary. The oven is electric.

The holidaymakers have arrived. The excess vehicles on the roads make this evident. The WiFi is another way we can tell they are here when the signal comes and goes. This time, it’s for about ten days, so they should be gone by a week from Monday, and our usual animals will return. So far, today, we’ve had luck with several visitors due to the lucerne. Maybe this is a recurring solution for us during holiday periods to ensure we see our animal friends.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, October 1, 2021:

Zebra’s tails appear to be braided, but they are not. The pattern on their tail hair creates this illusion. For more photos, please click here.

Our friends have left…Leaving so much behind…Lindsey’s photos…

Lindsey took this fantastic photo of these four zebras lined up to eat pellets off the railing on the veranda.

Losing a loved one while in a foreign country on holiday is terrifying. Over the past few weeks, we witnessed first-hand the sorrow, the legal process, and the angst over the complicated documents and procedures necessary to complete the mountain of paperwork required.

Connie faces complicated legal issues in transferring all that accounts in the US require. But she’s highly competent and organized, and we have no doubt she’ll get through this process with grace and determination. With her children, Lindsey and David, providing love and support and the many other family members and friends they have in the US, we feel sure she’ll see her way through it all.

This morning, they packed their rental van and went to Johannesburg for their flight tomorrow. They’ll spend one night in the airport hotel, and a day later, they’ll arrive back in Minnesota. We look forward to hearing they’ve arrived safely.

Louise and Danie said these three francolins, mom, dad, and a growing chick, are from their house only a few houses away from us. Perhaps, they were scoping us out to see if they’d like to move here. Sorry, Louise!

We can only imagine how sad it will be for them to walk in the door of their family home without Jeff. The full blow of this loss will surely be felt much more significantly when they are back home.

Shortly after they left this morning, Tom and I headed to Louise and Danie’s office to drop off a few low-carb items and share some details about this sorrowful situation. In the short few weeks, Connie and Lindsey were here; they easily became close to our dear friends, which provided all the more support they needed.

Lindsay was so thoughtful when she left us a heartfelt letter thanking us for our love and support and the considerate girl that she is; she also left letters for Louise and Danie and Dawn and Leon at Jabula, all of whom wrapped their arms around them on several occasions during this period.

Since the chick doesn’t stay with its parents, maybe it will live here and find a mate. We will be watching. This is the mom and dad.

The friends we have made here reached out to them during this painful time and Connie and Lindsey often mentioned that they see why we love it here so much…not just the animals, but the humans, too. The outpouring of kindness was felt by them and by us.

Tom and I headed to Komati this morning to pick up my new prescription from Doc Theo. He was headed out for the school holiday for a week off, and I was lucky to catch him in time before he left. We picked up the prescription, stopped at dentist Luzaan’s office to book teeth cleaning appointments for both of us in a few weeks, and then drove to the pharmacy where I had the new prescription filled.

From there, we went to Spar for a few items since we didn’t need a full grocery shop until next week. Once back in Marloth Park, we drove to Daisy’s Den to purchase two bales of lucerne delivered tomorrow and Wednesday. We figured the wildlife would visit us during this upcoming holiday if we had lucerne. We’d report back if this plan was successful.

This funny expression on the male kudu’s face results from having two oxpeckers in his ears. They seem to go into a trance when this happens. Very funny.

By 1:30 PM, 1330 hrs., we were back home, putting everything away, leaving me plenty of time to finish today’s post. Thankfully, Lindsey had taken today’s fantastic photos on her phone since I was distracted and failed to take many photos the past ten days.

It will take a few days for us to return to our routine. To begin the process, we’ll return to Jabula for dinner, even after being there last night with Connie and Lindsey. Amid all the grief and sorrow, the four of us had good times together since losing Jeff. The conversation was easy, and we often found ourselves laughing amid the tears. It was a special time for all of us.

This monitor lizard scrambled across our garden so fast it was difficult to get a photo.

Tomorrow, our posts will return to our usual theme of life in the bush with our wildlife and human friends. Thank you for sharing this challenging time with us and for all the heartfelt and beautiful messages we received.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, September 30, 2021:

It’s easy to see why we call him Thick Neck. His neck is almost twice as thick as other bushbucks. For more photos, please click here.

Tomorrow morning, Connie and Lindsey begin the journey back to the US…And for us?…

This lush green tree attracted many of the giraffes. There were nine giraffes in the garden.

Today, Connie and Lindsey are organizing and packing, which includes countless pieces of medical equipment, they’ll be hauling back to the US. They are leaving one wheelchair with us, which we’ll keep upstairs to be used by whomever we encounter who may need it. Also, if Louise has any renters who may need it, we’re happy to provide it for their temporary use.

This was the first giraffe to arrive.

Once they leave, I’ll have to go through our refrigerator and clear out any food that may have begun to spoil since we’ll have eaten out four days in a row this week, including tonight at Jabula for the four of us and again tomorrow for the two of us, for our usual Friday night. Connie and Lindsey loved the idea of going to Jabula one more time before they departed, and we agreed enthusiastically.

It was fun to watch the youngsters eating leaves with their parents.

Last night, we headed to Giraffe, where we had a great conversation at the bar and a lovely dinner in the outdoor area where there were no insects. Compared to the number of bugs pestering us outdoors a few nights ago, it was a welcomed relief to be outdoors without the pesky springtime flying insects.

There’s Lollie in the background, as always.

It’s pleasant weather today, and the four of us are currently sitting at the table on the veranda, watching wildlife, and working on our phones and laptops. After Jeff’s passing, Connie has a lot to figure out with arranging memorial services in Minnesota and South Dakota and handling financial matters, which are daunting tasks for a grieving spouse but necessary to handle.

There are some fresh buds on other trees since the good rain last week.

As for us, we’ve stayed on top of our financial matters these past two weeks, including record keeping and setting up our regular payments in BillPay for the first of the month. I’m happy we got our taxes done through our accountant in Henderson, Nevada, and we have nothing hanging over our heads now.

A mom and a baby was included in the tower of giraffes that came to call

Tomorrow, we have to pay the final payment for the upcoming Seychelles cruise in November. We don’t have to pay other final cruise payments until next March. We’re still uncertain if South Africa will let us enter after the Seychelles cruise, but we’re keeping our fingers crossed and our thoughts positive.

Such beautiful animals.

Last night, after dinner at Giraffe, we tried to stream a show on my laptop in our bedroom. But, I was so tired from the medication I was on for the headache that I couldn’t stay awake. The drug makes me sleepy during the day, but I cannot nap, which might make it possible for me to stay awake a little longer. The literature for the medication suggests taking it an hour or two before retiring for the night to reduce daytime sleepiness, but that isn’t working for me.

We couldn’t tell what this giraffe was doing by the ant hill.

I will return to Doc Theo in about a week to discuss increasing the dose since the head pain has produced the past few days, much to my frustration. I was so hopeful it was gone. Perhaps the past week’s events have been instrumental in the headache returning, but at least the face pain is gone.

The garden was busy with zebras and giraffes.

Based on our photos, we’ve had a lot of wildlife in the garden the past several days. We’ve been especially thrilled that Connie and Lindsey have been able to see so much over the past several days. Another holiday weekend will begin when they leave, the “school hoildays,” lasting for ten days. We’ll be glad when that’s over so we can return to our everyday life of enjoying wildlife in the garden and making plans for the future.

More parents arrived with youngsters.

Ah, dear readers, that’s all I have today. I hope you are doing well and enjoying life.

Photo from one year ago today, September 29, 2021:

Little was picking up the pellets I dropped on the veranda without hesitation. For more photos, please click here.

The viewing is completed…Now, we wait for the ashes…

Our friend Connie, wife of Jeff, has been able to enjoy time here in Marloth Park amid all the sorrow of losing her beloved husband.

What a busy morning! At 6:00 am, Tom bolted out of bed to get ready to drive Connie back to Tonga for the final viewing. The mortician will drive Jeff’s remains to Nelspruit, and the ashes will be delivered to us tomorrow, Wednesday. This will be an emotional event.

Connie has a lot of paperwork to complete before they depart for the US this Friday, only three days from today. It’s hard to imagine that they will be gone. We’ve become closer than ever under these sorrowful circumstances. Once they depart,  we’ll strive to return our lives to a familiar pace.

Of course, having almost completely recovered from the headache and facial pain, I am in a much better state of mind. It’s not as if I was down in the dumps during those painful months, but it undoubtedly impacted my quality of life. We went out for dinner; we socialized; we visited Kruger National Park, and we spent countless days and nights enjoying the visiting wildlife.

But, now, everything has changed, and I am glad I started to improve, after three weeks on the meds, to be present for our arriving guests ten days ago and the tragic loss that transpired last Wednesday, stretching well into the remaining time that Connie and Lindsey are spending here with us.

We all agreed to dine out the next three nights with load shedding continuing and high temperatures. We’ll spend their last night in the bush on Thursday at Jabula. They both love the food and atmosphere at the Cheers-like bar and wanted to spend one more evening there. Tom and I will still spend our usual Friday night at Jabula after Connie and Lindsey have left for the US.

Lindsey, Jeff and Connie’s daughter, has been quite a trooper after losing her beloved Dad. Photos were taken at Jabula last Friday night.

Today, we’re heading to Ngwenya Lodge for sundowners at sunset and later dining indoors away from the flying insects we encountered last night. Last night, we had no choice but to come inside the house to eat at the dining room table when insects beyond any past experiences bombarded us. TIA…This is Africa…this is what happens here in the spring and the heat.

My desire to cook has waned considerably in the past few days. The number of flies that mysteriously appear in the kitchen while preparing a meal is in the dozens, longing to land on any meat they can. Yuck. Flies annoy me more than most other insects.

I suppose we will most likely dine out two or three times a week over the upcoming hot summer months to make life easier. We’ll cook on the cooler days, but on the 42C, 104F days, we will go out to dinner. I have no desire to prepare meals and leave Tom in the kitchen in the dark at night, during load shedding, trying to do the dishes using a battery-powered lantern. The warmer the temperatures, the more flies, join me in the kitchen.

Right now, Connie and Lindsey are visiting the little shops here in Marloth Park. Tom is on the veranda watching football on his laptop via NFL Game Pass. As soon as I am done here today, I may take a little break and lounge in the bedroom with the big fan running off of  the inverter.

The house is clean, animals have returned to the garden after the holiday weekend, and we’re bracing ourselves for the influx of tourists who will be flooding Marloth Park, starting this weekend and continuing for ten days, due to the “school holiday,” which brings people to Marloth Park from all over the country and some from other countries.  We’ll see less wildlife and hear more cars passing at the house and when out and about.

Thank you to many of our readers who’ve written to express their condolences. If we missed responding to you, please bear with us. We’ve had more responses than we could count.

Have a great day and evening!

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

Peter, Paul, and Mary (she’s in the center) couldn’t have posed better for this shot. For more photos, please click here.

Moving through the days and nights with hope and love…

Early last week, when Jeff was still with us, he dropped a chunk of chicken on the veranda during a meal together on the veranda. Later that night, after they’d gone to bed, Tom spotted this genet enjoying the piece of chicken.

This morning, Lindsey and Connie took off for a day in Kruger National Park. We decided to let them go on their own to be able to have some private time without us in tow. They wanted to exchange all the clothes Connie purchased for Jeff in the shop at Lower Sabie for special gifts for his closest friends back in the US. How generous and thoughtful.

But generosity and thoughtfulness have been the nature of all our experiences over the past five days. Many of our readers have written to us with kind condolences, including friends from all over the world. Many have expressed concern over how Tom and I are doing under these circumstances.

Our only concern has been to make Connie and Lindsey feel as much comfort and love as we could provide during this sorrowful time. Neither of us has given a thought to our emotions. For us, our focus has been on their well-being and comfort.  We discussed the day’s events at night when we were alone in our bedroom. We are both sad this happened but glad we were able to share this sorrowful experience with Connie and Lindsey.

But, most of all, we are grateful Jeff was able to see the unique wildlife in our garden and then experience the wildlife in Kruger National Park, fulfilling his lifelong dreams of Africa. It was a joy to watch his expressions of sheer wonder when Mother Nature bestowed her treasured gifts upon us as we gawked in awe at the majesty of wildlife in Africa.

We took these three photos through the glass on the veranda door in the dark, resulting in poor-quality photos. If we’d added light or waited, we’d have lost the opportunity since any sound would drive the genet away.

Now, as the time Connie and Lindsey are staying in Marloth Park with us winds down, we’ve packed the remaining time together with more beautiful experiences; dinner out on Friday night at Jabula, where they were greeted with warm hugs and sincere condolences, let alone the great food, festive atmosphere and friendly banter among strangers who felt like friends before the evening ended.

Then, there’s been the two evenings we dined out since Jeff passed away; Amazing Kruger View with Louise and Danie on Thursday and, as mentioned, Friday night at Jabula. For the remaining three evenings, we dined on our veranda with good food, animal watching, and plenty of wine and drinks amid countless conversations and topics; many centered around Jeff and his life.

Last night, we made our low-carb pizza and salad, and the four of us dined and lounged on the veranda until well after dark and load shedding started again. Finally, the bugs got so bad that we had to go inside and all headed off to bed for an early night. Tom and I streamed a TV series on my laptop, and after I started nodding off, he stayed up and watched the Minnesota Vikings game until almost midnight.

I don’t ask Tom to wear earbuds when he watches the game in bed. For some odd reason, the sound of the football game is comforting to me, and I sleep right through it. Plus, the pills I take for headaches and facial pain make me very sleepy. I take the one tablet at 9:00  pm, 2100 hrs., to ensure I am not too sleepy in the morning. But, after taking the pill I can stay up for several hours if necessary.

Loouise and Danie told us that recently the genet has been eating their francolin’s chicks. They had six and now are down to one.

During the day, I feel a little sleepy but not enough to require a nap. However, the headache and facial pain are almost entirely gone. I hold my breath when I say this since suddenly, for no reason at all, it is painful  again but improves a short time later. I have no idea how long I’ll have to take the drug. Right now, I am not concerned about that. In a few weeks, I must return to Doc Theo for the next refill.

Today, with Connie and Lindsey gone for the day to Kruger National Park, we’ll work on future planning and financial projects we’ve postponed. Nothing was urgent since we’d prepared for their arrival and had addressed most tasks we had pending.

When they return and when Tom returns from returning the car to Nelspruit, we’ll cook another fresh homemade pizza we saved for tonight, having pizza two nights in a row. Tonight will be another evening on the veranda commiserating over the events of the past five days and mutually sharing stories from our lives and our adventures. Of course, we’ll be enjoying wildlife visits now that the holiday weekend is over.

Be well.

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

A thick-tailed bushbaby was eating yogurt we left out. For more, please click here.

What are the legal requirements in South Africa for foreigners handling the death of a loved one?…

Jeff in 2015, at a private chateau in France where Connie performed services as a professional chef.

If this headline makes no sense to you, please read yesterday’s post when we described the sad loss of our friend Jeff who came to stay with us in Marloth Park with his beloved wife, Connie, and their daughter Lindsey, to finally fulfill a lifelong dream of seeing the wildlife in Africa. Please read yesterday’s post here.

We are all still reeling from the sorrowful experience, but somehow manage to spend quality time together in the bush until they depart next Friday to return to the US with Jeff’s ashes. There won’t be a memorial service in South Africa, but it will be arranged when they return to the US to include their family and friends.

So here’s the story of what transpired from a legal perspective when our dear friend Jeff passed away during the night and was discovered on Wednesday morning on September 21st, only four days ago as of today, Sunday, September 25, 2022.

Once Connie and Tom determined that Jeff didn’t have a pulse, we first notified Louise and Danie, who immediately got to work to figure out the process. They had never lost a guest in one of their properties or a loved one while living in Marloth Park.

Within about 10 minutes, vehicles started entering our driveway, from honorary rangers to local officials and police to local EMTs. Our friend Patty Pan, an honorary ranger, arrived and was a great comfort to Connie, Lindsey, Tom, and me. Everyone was so respectful and kind with their words and attentiveness.

The flurry of activity kept us all busy during those difficult first few hours. Connie and Lindsey had endless questions to answer and documents to provide regarding Jeff’s medical history to ensure there had been no “foul play” in his passing. A wonderful local policeman, Dan, who lives a few blocks from us and over the next 24 hours, provided endless support in the process.

When the mortician arrived, and Jeff was carried away, an additionally heartbreaking moment in this process, the following steps required to fulfill the process necessary in South Africa for foreigners passing away while in the country were described to us in detail. At the time, remembering everything was challenging due to our emotional state.

Thank goodness for policeman Dan. He arrived at 8:00 am the following day He not only walked us through the entire process but he drove his police vehicle with the flashers on and advised us to do the same as we followed behind him while we drove for over an hour to the distant town of Tonga, where we’d go through the following process to meet the legal requirements of South Africa. Dan escorted us while the mortician helped Connie at each of the following locations, ensuring she always was able to get to the front of the queue:

  1. Doctor’s office: to obtain the official certificate of death (including the cause of death) – time for the entire process -60 minutes
  2. Police station: to complete forms such as an “application for cremation,” – time for the entire process – 20 minutes
  3. Home Affairs Office: an unabridged death certificate was issued – time for the entire process – 30 minutes
  4. Mortician’s Office: to discuss the cost of cremation, select an appropriate coffin for cremation and settle on financial matters. At first, an expensive coffin was suggested which made no sense. After negotiation (expected in South Africa), Connie settled on a logical and respectful coffin, and we were on our way. To our surprise, the funeral home did not accept a credit card, and the only payment method was through ETF, a bank transfer that was accomplished within 24 – 60 minutes.

Dan stayed with us through the entire above process, making suggestions and answering questions each step of the way. The mortician, as mentioned above, attended each of the above steps with Connie and was able to speed the process along. The entire process took about three hours plus about two hours driving time, for a total of about five hours.

The cremation is planned for Tuesday morning and the mortician will deliver the ashes  to Marloth Park in a TSA (airline security) approved container. Connie will carry the ashes as a carry-on.

The entire cost for the cremation, coffin, and other services was under US $2000, ZAR 35852.

For additional information, please click here at the South Africa Home Affair website.

Please feel free to ask any questions using our comments section at the bottom of the post.

We’ll continue to share details as the process progresses over the next few days.

Be well.

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

We made two large pans of apple crisp and one smaller pan. We’ll bring one large pan to Kathy and Don’s tonight and keep one large and small pan at home. For more photos, please click here.

A heartbreaking loss at our holiday home in the bush…Human, not animal…I had to pretend…

Jeff, sitting at the table on our veranda on the day before he passed away, getting ready to take a photo of the wildlife in the garden,

Today is Saturday. On Wednesday, our dear friend and houseguest Jeff, husband of friend Connie and dad of adult daughter Lindsay who arrived last Saturday (and dad to son David, who wasn’t here), passed away in bed at our holiday home in Marloth Park, South Africa. When Connie awoke on Wednesday morning, she assumed Jeff was still asleep.

Checking further, she realized he wasn’t breathing. She came to our door (they were staying in the two guest cottages on our holiday home property), and Tom rushed out to help. As a former fireman, he knew exactly what to do. He confirmed Connie’s assessment. Our friend Jeff had passed away in bed.

Jeff suffered from a fatal disease called MSA, Multiple System Atrophy, described as follows from this site:

“Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a rare condition of the nervous system that causes gradual damage to nerve cells in the brain. This affects balance, movement, and the autonomic nervous system, which controls several basic functions, such as breathing, digestion, and bladder control.”

Jeff’s dream was to come to Africa to see the wildlife, and he did. On Tuesday, we all went into Kruger National Park, and Jeff, sitting in the front seat of their rented van, could see many species throughout the day. That night, when we returned, we had a nice dinner, after which he and Tom watched a Minnesota Vikings football game, enjoying every moment.

When we initially invited them to stay with us, we knew we wanted to do everything we could to make the visit memorable and meaningful for him, Connie, and Lindsey, who were loving and diligent caregivers, never burdened by the challenges, only burdened by the severity of his illness and how little time was left for him to cherish those he loved and his passion for coming to Africa.

Although Jeff’s speech was impaired due to his illness, his brain was sharp, and he and Tom chatted endlessly.  It was rewarding to witness how much fun he had been having in the place he longed to see before it was too late. Tom and Jeff always enjoyed lively conversation during the 31 years we’ve all been friends.

Over the past ten years, we’ve been friends; we’ve stayed in touch and had a chance for a few get-togethers when we visited Minnesota. They lived only a few kilometers from our home in our old lives. With Connie as a professional chef and me loving to cook and entertain, we often got together over great food and drinks.

In tomorrow’s post, I will share the process of a foreigner’s passing while in South Africa and the wonderful people who supported the process in the past few days.

I apologize for not mentioning this in the past several posts, which I struggled to write, having to alter some of the text to avoid letting anyone know. I didn’t want to put it out there for the world to see when family and friends needed to be notified of Jeff’s passing instead of seeing it online. Connie had posted a few links to our site before their arrival, and many of their loved ones could have been reading our posts. Now that most of their family and friends have been notified, I can reveal the sorrowful passing of Jeff on our site.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow.

Be well. Cherish the day.

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

Young kudu on the veranda at the old house. For more photos, please click here.