Zebra Day and Baby…On a rainy morning…

Mom and baby zebra. Of course, Lollie is photobombing.

What a way to start the day with nine zebras hanging around for a few hours, including a mom and very young foal, suckling every few minutes. Typically, zebras kick, yip, and pass gas when pellets are tossed. It was cute to see how the mom scooted the foal out of the way of the commotion. Zebras are not ruminants. They have only one stomach. Constantly grazing on vegetation, they become bloated and gassy.

The zebras approached the railing for their pellets.

The zebras never seem to injure one another when they get into a frenzy, but, let’s face it, the animals are hungry. No wonder they carry on over a few pellets. They all still look healthy, and we pray they can remain so until the “greening” of the bush. We’re moving into spring in a mere week or so.

The baby is tiny compared to the adults, as shown in these photos.

Three months later, it will be summer when the heat, humidity, insects, and mozzies will be in full force. But, the magic of summer is the beautiful green bush for the wildlife to eat. With so much food on hand at that time, you’d think they stop by less and less for pellets, but the fall and winter habits have been established, and they continue to stop by regularly.

The little one sticks close to mom.

Fortunately, this morning it’s drizzling, the perfect type of rain for the bush as opposed to a downpour that merely runs off.  It must have rained at night since we see a touch of green in the usually dry, brown bush. This indicates times to come when the rainy season begins soon.

Mom is determined to keep the baby away from the rowdy others.

As soon as I stepped outdoors this morning, after another fitful night’s sleep, it was exciting to see nine zebras, including a very young foal, in the garden. Tom had already taken several photos and tossed several batches of pellets. Of course, I decided to try for more shots to be added to today’s post, hopefully.

They moved closer to the veranda railing.

The animals were finally returning to our garden with the drones overhead last week and a bush weekend packed with tourists. We were a little concerned when it was sparse of wildlife with friends Connie and Jeff arriving in four days. We hope all of our regulars and more will stop by to meet them. The thought of sharing this wonderful environment with our friends is exciting.

Further out in the bush, away from the others.

I’m feeling slightly better today. The headache and facial pain are about 50% better. Maybe after 18 days of taking the tablets at night, relief is coming. I am hopeful. Having this pain for the past five months has been challenging and frustrating. I’ve tried not to complain or limit my activities. In the realm of things, this may have been the best way for me to handle it rather than lying in bed, feeling sorry for myself.

A few zebras were lying down in the background.

Unfortunately, the medication makes me sleepy during the day. I may have to take the drug for a long time, hoping the sleepiness goes away. On the 15th, if the pain isn’t completely gone, I am to increase the dose by 5 mg per day for a total of 25 mg per day. I started at 5 mg, and it knocked me for a loop. But today, I feel a little less groggy and maybe won’t need a nap in the afternoon, which was a rarity for me before Covid-19.

Little zebras seem to be dazed most of the time.

With our friends coming, I don’t want to be sluggish and tired. I will do my best to stay alert and engaged in sharing the wonders of the bush with them. We hope to go on a few game drives with a guide and do several self-drive safaris in Kruger National Park. Once they arrive, we’ll be able to plan our events based on how Jeff feels and can maneuver in his wheelchair. We can only wait and see how it goes. The long journey from the US is exhausting and requires a few days to recover.

A little grooming of the foal by the attentive mother.

Tom is sitting at the table on the veranda, which has a roof while watching football on NFL Game Pass, an app for which he pays an annual fee to watch all NFL games while out of the US. I came inside to sit at the dining room table when Vusi was here cleaning the veranda and have stayed here, now and then, getting up to do something. Tom is no more than four meters from me, and from this location, I can partially see into the garden in case a visitor stops by.

They are always side by side.

It’s blissfully cool today, and we’re both wearing hoodie sweatshirts. I love days like this when it’s cool and rainy.

The baby is fearful of leaving his mother’s side.

May you have a blissful day, as well.

This zebra stood in the garden sleeping for over an hour. Typically, zebras sleep standing up to ensure they can dash in a hurry if danger approaches. With the hungry lions in the park, they are mainly on guard.

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

Little was using a rock for a pillow. For more photos, please click here.

A warm and sultry day in the bush….Before we know it, winter will end…Baby zebra…

What an adorable visitor, a baby zebra!

Winter is short in South Africa. It begins on June 21 and ends on September 21. Then, the heat, humidity, and the insects return with fervor.  The mozzies come with warmer weather, rain, and moisture, while every puddle becomes a breeding ground for more.

Zebras and Lollie share pellets peacefully.

Lately, I have still been using insect repellent to keep the chiggers, sand fleas, and other minuscule winter insects from biting me. Finally, I have got it under control. I have fewer bites right now than I’ve had since we arrived almost two months ago. Every evening, while we are on the veranda, Tom sprays the bedroom and bathroom, alternating three different products daily; Doom, Peaceful Sleep, and a dust mite spray. We don’t enter the room for several hours after he sprays.

An adult zebra was walking around to the veranda edge for pellets.

We have an automatic Doom sprayer that shoots a burst every 35 minutes. This alone won’t work. It takes all the products, plus wearing Tabard roll-on repellent before bed to keep me from getting bit.  Also, I am wearing a long-sleeved cotton hoodie and long pajama bottoms to have as much skin covered as possible.

The baby hovers close to his mom.

During the day, I use Tabard on all exposed skin and repeat the application every six to eight hours, more often on my hands which I wash frequently. Itchy bites on my knuckles can keep me awake at night.  The past four or five nights, I’ve slept through the night now that we have this under control. Hopefully, these same precautions will work when the mosquitoes appear soon.

It’s always delightful to see the little ones. They are often shy and skittish.

Yes, we are exposed to several chemicals, but for now, the concern over malaria and other insect-borne diseases is the bigger concern. Our friend Jim (married to Carrie, US citizens who came here from reading our posts) ended up getting Tick Bite Fever which can become a severe illness without proper treatment. But even with appropriate treatment, he suffered dearly for a few weeks. Even during the winter months, there are risks from insects and snakes.

Today, the high will be 81F, 27C. The humidity is 61%, and there’s a cloud cover. The holidaymakers are still in the park, but the school holidays are ending this coming Sunday. The number of animals we’re seeing is considerably less than we’ll see next week. We’re looking forward to that! With as many animals as we’ve seen during the holiday, we can only anticipate many more will be coming.

Notice the little one close to his mom at the end of the splash pool.

Load shedding continues an average of three times per day for 7½ hours without power. As I write here, it has been out for two hours and should be returning soon. Sometimes, it goes back on in slightly less than two hours. I plan on doing laundry today, but I must wait until the power is restored. It’s such an inconvenience with no end in sight.

But, for us, the inconvenience of load shedding is considerably less than it is for others. We have WiFi during those periods and pay little attention to it while outside on the veranda, where we spend most of our days and evenings. Once it’s hot again, it will be tough without aircon for those 2½ hours in the bedroom at night. We have a fan we can use via the inverter during those periods, but the heat can be unbearable at night.

Zebras stop by and eat and then head out. They aren’t like many other species who will hang around to beg for more pellets.

We’ll be staying put today. This evening we’ll cook on the braai and enjoy more quality time on the veranda. Oh, the power just returned a few minutes earlier than expected. I can do the laundry and prep some of the food for tonight’s dinner. All is good. We try not to open the refrigerator when the power is out.

Be well.

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

We couldn’t believe our eyes on this date in 2018 in Kruger National Park when we spotted this elephant digging a hole to access water in the ground below.  For more photos, please click here.

An evening on the Crocodile River….Visitors are back after voting day ended…

Tom took this zebra photo early this morning.

This morning I didn’t awaken until 7:30, after a somewhat fitful night. I woke no less than six times, tossing and turning, and when sleep wouldn’t come, I eventually played a game of mindless drivel on my phone. I’m well aware that looking at one’s phone in the middle of the night may exacerbate periods of insomnia. But, for me laying there, unable to sleep only seems to make matters worse.

With a silly matching game on my phone, eventually, I get bored enough to drift off again, often with my phone in my hand and my reading glasses on. Hours later, I may awake in the same position. Overall, on nights like these, I end up getting enough sleep overall and feel fine the next day. Anxiety about not going back to sleep is more frustrating than playing with my phone.

Busy morning in the bush.

Today, at 11:00, Dawn and I will get pedicures at a local spa, where I’ve gone several times in the past, often bringing a friend. Two nail techs work on us simultaneously, and we get done 90-minutes later. It’s an excellent opportunity for “girl talk,” which I always enjoy. Tom will drop me off and pick me up later because the road to our house is too bumpy to ask friends to transport me.

Last night, seven of us arrived at Buckler’s Africa resort at 3:00 pm, 1500 hrs, for river watching and sundowners while overlooking the Crocodile River. We didn’t see much wildlife, but the conversation was lively and entertaining, the food was good (but late in arriving), and by 8:30 pm, we were back at the house.

From left to right, Trevor, Erika, Shakara, and Dawn while we were at Buckler’s Africa on the Crocodile River last night for sundowners and dinner.

This morning, our garden was packed with wildlife, including all of the regulars. As I write this, we have Bad Eye and her three kudu sisters, Broken Horn. Holey Moley, Thick Neck, Spikey, Stringy, and a newly named Sylvia (my mother’s name). When I was pulling up the shade in the bedroom, Thick Neck was standing at the window looking at me. “Good morning, Thick Neck!” I spewed, happy to see him once again.

Each morning before I start the post, I view the photos from the trail cam. It always makes us laugh when we see one photo after another of Thick Neck, hanging around most of the night. We wonder if he ever sleeps. Here are exciting morsels about male bushbuck behavior from this site:

Farmers burn sugarcane crops before harvest to remove the leaves and tops of the sugarcane plant leaving only the sugar-bearing stalk to be harvested.

“Usually most active during the early morning and part of the night, Bushbucks become almost entirely nocturnal in areas where they are apt to be disturbed frequently during the day. When alarmed, individuals react in a variety of ways. When surprised in the open, they sometimes stand still or slowly walk to the nearest cover. Sometimes they will sink to the ground and lie flat or bound away, making a series of hoarse barks.

The Bushbuck is primarily nocturnal, but it is also reasonably active during the day. Half of a Bushbuck’s day is spent standing and grazing. Around dusk, the Bushbuck move toward their night range to feed. The Bushbuck is also the only non-territorial and solitary African antelope, with neither males nor females defending any part of their home range.

Though Bushbuck have small home ranges which may overlap with those of other bushbuck, they are solitary animals, with even females preferring to keep social interactions with their young to not more than a few hours a day. Mature males usually go out of their way to avoid contact with each other.”

Trevor was observing the burning sugar cane from the veranda at Buckler’s Africa.

After three nights of socializing, tonight we’re staying in and will surely enjoy time on the veranda with our wildlife friends, reveling in Mother Nature’s wonders.

Be well.

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

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #224. In Kenya, we were both at ease handling this harmless reptile, fascinated with its pre-historic appeal. For more, please click here.

Final photos from Livingstone, Zambia…Final Expenses will follow tomorrow…

Zebras were grazing on the grass at the Royal Livingstone Hotel.

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Wow! The time has flown by so quickly. Tomorrow morning, we head to the airport to return to South Africa. At the moment, we’re awaiting printed copies of our PCR test results and a copy of proof of our airline tickets proving we are exiting South Africa on January 23, 2022, which may help at immigration if we run into any issues for our short time away.

Our favorite photo is of the sunset from the hotel veranda.

In the past, we only encountered one negative comment from an immigration officer upon return to South Africa, but we were allowed re-entry. However, we felt by showing our airline tickets for January. They may be convinced we’re not “border-hopping.”  We’ll see how it goes.

The past 24 hours have been relatively quiet while we both worked on projects on our laptops. I am working on the corrections fast and furiously and now have less than 19 pages of 20 posts left to correct. At this point, I can correct 30 posts a day when in the beginning, it was slow and cumbersome when I could only get through 15 posts a day.

The spray from Victoria Falls from the Zambia side of the river. We visited the fall on both the Zambia and Zimbabwe sides last time we were here in 2018.

No, the old posts won’t be perfect. It is easy to miss a few corrections on each page, even after reading and re-reading it. Halfway through, I added the paid, highly-rated editing program, Grammarly. But, it, too, like humans, is not exempt from making errors. Yesterday. I did a post that had 126 errors on a post prepared while in lockdown in India. I had all the time in the world to proofread, and yet, I still made countless mistakes, mostly commas, occasionally sentence structure, and less so spelling.

I often say if someone asked me if I’d write an essay every day, 365 days a year, that would be presented to the world online, I would have said they’re out of their minds for asking me to do that, and I would have flatly refused.

An elephant on the opposite side of the Zambezi River, most like more than a kilometer from our view from the hotel veranda.

Weirdly, I am doing exactly that now, 3355 posts later. Good grief! How in the world did that happen? How in the world have I continued to motivate myself to keep doing this, day after day, month after month, year after year? Now, as we approach our ninth anniversary of traveling the world, having begun posting on March 15, 2012 (before we left), even I am shocked by how consistently this mission has continued.

The first year or so, we only posted a few times a week. But, as time marched on, we realized we needed to write more often to maintain the continuity of our peculiar lives without a home, without storage, and with only a few bags in our possession.

A bloat of hippos in the Zambezi River, rarely picking up their heads.

Based on interest and comments from readers, they’ve always seemed more interested in the challenges we face daily, not unlike their own. Life isn’t always about famous sightseeing venues and tours. At times, daily life is tough and for many of our readers, seeing how we resolved a particular issue(s) is equally, if not more interesting.

We try to “shake it up” with a mix of exciting events and daily life events. But, like most of you, some days are dull and uneventful. Have you ever wondered what you’d write about after 3355 days of writing a daily essay? It, in itself, is sometimes challenging.

A halfhearted yawn from a hippo.

Regardless of how often my mind is blank when I sit down to begin. Within minutes, my fingers fly across the keyboard as if possessing a mind of their own, and the words flow. Once I start, the rest follows suit. But, the easiest part is writing down the thoughts. The hard part is editing, editing, and more editing.

Then, the photos always take a good portion of the time I spend at my laptop, formatting, positioning, and editing. Although I may do a few photo edits, mainly consisting of brightening or resizing a scene. Remember, I am not a professional photographer and have little interest in pursuing that path when I know how much time it would take to learn more. Gee…I want to have time left in my day to embrace it!

The spray from the falls at sunset.

The concierge just dropped off our negative PRC tests. Tomorrow morning, we should have time to do another post with our expenses for the six days, five nights we’ve spent in Zambia. Please check back for that.

More spray from Victoria Falls on the Zambezi River.

Happy day and evening to all of you, dear readers!

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

This photo was posted one year ago while in a hotel in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #216. The waterfalls at Vuodomo, Fiji, were still, at quite a distance. We gasped with delight over our first peek at the waterfall, which is much larger than it appears in this photo. 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.

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

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

  1. The zebra is mainly white and striped with black or dark brown stripes, but black skin underneath their coat.
  2. There are different types of zebra, each with a different stripe pattern. The mountain zebra typically has vertical stripes on its neck and across its torso while horizontal lines cover its legs.
  3. Zebras run in a zig-zag pattern when being chased by a predator making it more difficult for them to run after them.
  4. The pattern of zebras stripes is different for each zebra, making them each unique snowflake!
  5. Their coats’ black & white striped pattern 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 the 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 predators face, 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 colt 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 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 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 is 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 birdbath, where we continue to add fresh water.

  22. Zebras can rotate their ears in almost any direction; this ability can communicate their mood with other zebras.
  23. Zebras have one toe on each foot.
  24. Zebras cannot see the color orange.
  25. A zebra species 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 several facts about zebras over the years, and each source provides new and exciting 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, leave 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 freshwater.

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 in the parklands or the sparsely occupied residential areas, zebras may be seen 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.

We haven’t been offering apples and carrots at this point, 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.

First trip to Kruger National Park in 2021!!!…New photos!…

It’s estimated an aggressive hippo’s sharp teeth kill 500 people a year in Africa. Hippos can crush a human to death, with their weight ranging anywhere from 3,000 to 9,000 pounds. But they are fantastic to see in the wild. Note the oxpeckers on the hide of the hippo on the right.  After uploading the post, I suggested to Tom that we head to Kruger National Park and purchase our year-long Wild Card, which allows us to enter Kruger as often as we’d like for the next 12 months. With most Easter weekend visitors and holidaymakers gone, we figured it would be an excellent time to go.

We could have applied online, but the website was cumbersome, so we decided “the old way” and appeared in person. It proved to be a good decision. We were the only applicants in the Crocodile Gate office, resulting in no waiting. We were well masked, gloved, and brought our pen to fill out documents or signatures.

At the Verhami Dam, we spotted this “bloat” of hippos munching on the tall grass.

Although we were the only visitors in the office, it took at least 30 minutes for the purchase to be completed and for us to head back to our car finally. Of course, with a temporary pass in hand, we decided to go into the park right away. It was midday, and we were well aware the sightings could be minimal.

We hadn’t been in the park since January 2019, before I had open-heart surgery. There was no way I could have been bouncing around on the bumpy roads after the surgery when we finally left South Africa after three months of recovery in May 2019. We’d missed it.

We wanted to yell out, “Pick up your head,” but were satisfied when the hippo in the main photo did so.

Generally, early morning can be the best time to do a game drive, in our case, what is referred to as a self-drive. However, in the car, we weren’t as high up as one would be on a professional game drive vehicle with a guide. We kept a watchful eye as we meandered down the roads to see what we could find. As usual, we weren’t disappointed.

Not every tourist that enters the park is determined to see the “Big Five.” Sure, it’s great to spot a leopard, lion, cape buffalo, elephant, and rhino. But, for us, we never focus on such a lofty goal. We’ve seen the Big Five more times than we can count. At this point, although fun to see, it’s not a priority for us.

Zebra traffic on the main road.

We’re always looking for good photo ops, regardless of the species, and for us, it proved to be as productive a day as any. Over the next several days, we’ll be posting our photos and, of course, returning to the park regularly over the following months.

As for the application for the Wild Card, which resulted in a cost of US $352, ZAR 5100, for foreign nationals, the application process had to be completed once back at the house, requiring we call a phone number, speak to a representative and give them the code we got on the receipt.

We waited patiently until they moved over into the grass.

We won’t receive a card. Instead, this morning shortly after I spoke to the representative, we received an email with a confirmation letter that we must carry to enter the park. Plus, each time we go, we have to fill out another form with personal and passport information. Lots of steps.

In any case, we certainly enjoyed driving through the park. Deciding to go on short notice, we didn’t eat lunch at the popular Mugg & Bean, located in Lower Sabi on the Sabi River, although we stopped for a bathroom break and checked out the action on the Sabi River from the restaurant.

It was quite a day for zebra sightings.

We’d already defrosted and prepared bacon-wrapped fillet mignon for dinner and knew, if we ate lunch, we’d never be hungry by dinnertime. We only eat one meal a day, only because our way of eating diminishes our appetites until 24 hours later.

Long ago, we both decided that we wouldn’t eat unless we were hungry. Thirty days before leaving India, Tom began losing weight he gained stuck in that hotel room, eating four bananas, toast, and pasta, day after day.  He has since lost 25 pounds, 11.3 kg, and I, too, had lost 25 pounds, 11.3 kg, while in India, after changing our diets further.

Crocodiles are always scary-looking, in the water and out.

It’s hard for us to believe that combined, we’ve lost 50 pounds, 22.7 kg, of unnecessary weight in the past several months, significantly improving our health. We both feel committed to maintaining our current eating, weight, and better health with the new changes. We both feel great and love fitting into our minimal wardrobes.

Soon, we’re off for Komatipoort for grocery shopping and to purchase some pellets. Now that the Easter alcohol ban has lifted, we’ll restock a few items.

More photos from Kruger will be posted tomorrow.

I hope you have a pleasant day and that all is well your way!

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

A Brown Gecko is hanging out in this plant with sharp thorns, a safe hiding spot for sure. For more year-ago photos, please click here.

Stars in our eyes…Stripes in our garden…It’s our 26th wedding anniversary today…What does it cost us for food in South Africa?…

As of today, we’ve been married for 26 years. Last year in India, we celebrated our 25th, but now, that seems so long ago. We are blessed to have this great union, two people of opposites that somehow meet in the middle to find love, companionship, friendship, and harmony. Who knew we’d be able to travel the world together for over eight years and see so much joy in our everyday lives, regardless of where we may be at any given time?

We waited quite a while to pick up their heads for a photo, but they were preoccupied.

If anyone had asked if we could spend ten months in lockdown in a hotel room in Mumbai, India, we may have laughed, uncertain if our usual state of harmony and love would survive. And, it did. Not only did we survive, emotionally intact, but all the stronger for it. Happy anniversary, Tom Lyman! May our lives together continue to be enriched in years to come.

They often head-butt one another when the pellets get low.

Last night, we headed to Jabula Lodge & Restaurant for our anniversary dinner, dining outside on the veranda and enjoying, as usual, a fine meal. It’s often surprising to us how affordable it is to dine out in Marloth Park. We dined at Jabula twice this week, on Thursday with Linda and Ken, and again last night.

The cost for each evening was approximately US $40, ZAR $615, which included taxes, tips, cocktails for Tom, and a bottle of my favorite Four Cousins Skinny Red Wine which I drank from on both occasions, with another glass or two left in the bottle that we brought home last night. There is nowhere in the world we’ve been able to enjoy such good food at such reasonable prices.

Zebras with their heads down only interested in the pellets.

Our total grocery bill since we arrived here on January 13th with enough food to last us for another week was US $1081, ZAR 16609. This averaged US $136, ZAR 2074 per week. Our entire dining out bill for these eight weeks was US $251, ZAR 3856. The total for food thus far was US 1332, ZAR 20465, averaged US $167, ZAR 2566 per week.

This was the first of the zebras to take a drink from the pool, and the others followed suit.

When we lived in Minnesota, shopping for groceries in 2012, we spent an average of US $225, ZAR 3457 per week. Dining out typically was US $100, ZAR 1536, and thus we didn’t go out to eat in the US as readily as we do here. As we’ve always said, it’s good for our budget to be living in South Africa, let alone all the other beautiful reasons.

As you can see from today’s photos, we were thrilled to see zebras in the garden finally. It was funny how it happened. One of the four zebras snuck up from the side of the house and peered out at us on the veranda, checking out the situation. Moments later, the four of them were busy munching on pellets, rarely taking a second to look up.

They seem to copy one another’s activities.

Zebras aren’t like kudus, wildebeest, warthogs, and bushbucks, who make eye contact and respond to our voices. They never look us in the eye. Although it’s pretty enjoyable to watch them interact with one another, pushing and shoving one moment and cuddling the next, they have little interest in us humans. Nonetheless, a visit from them is always welcomed.

Tonight, we are getting together with Linda and Ken to celebrate our anniversary. And, tomorrow night, their last night in MP, we’re meeting for dinner at the Amazing Kruger View Restaurant, formerly known as AAmazing River View. The restaurant overlooks the Crocodile River for some often exciting views. Bubbly is on the menu for sure.

Although there is chlorine in the pool, here, they use so little. It’s not harmful to the animals to drink from the pool.

Today, it is sweltering and humid. It’s so much so that I decided to stay inside in the bedroom to cool off for a bit while I finish today’s post.

We hope you’ve been having a good weekend. We certainly have enjoyed this four-day run of social activities with our special friends in Marloth Park. We never tire of the people or the wildlife and can’t imagine, we ever will.

Be well.

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

In an old vehicle located at the Best Exotic Marigold  Hotel, Us is referred to as a Willy/Jeep. For that post, please click here.

Today’s Plan B…Hospital or no hospital…How did this happen?…

This morning when we opened the big wood doors, we had a dazzle of zebras waiting for breakfast.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

We were thrilled to see the return of a mating pair of hornbills.

It’s never quite good enough for me to blindly accept a scenario that causes ill health and other problems in our day-to-day lives. I’ve always strived to discover the “why” in a determined attempt to avoid a similar scenario in the future.

As far as the necessity of my having to have coronary bypass surgery, I’ve been on a mission, reading (from reliable sources, not the general public) as much as I can find, listening to medical podcasts, and watching medical videos in what may be a futile attempt to answer the question, “Why me?”

In the realm of things, anyone can wonder why they experienced any problematic situation only to come up empty-handed, leaving the answer to “chance.” But over the years, I’ve learned a hard lesson, as many of us have…when it comes to unpleasant interactions among people..we have the power to avoid emotionally painful situations. We can only control how we feel, not how someone else should feel or behave.

However, when it comes to health, the “why” becomes more complex. Injuries, illness, and medical crises of most types may have been lessened or obliterated by one’s carefulness and diligence.  
Note the two youngsters with little interest in the pellets.

Get sick on a cruise? “Did I fail to wash my hands frequently enough or did I shake hands or hug someone who was carrying germs?”

Break a leg while skiing? “Was I showing off or taking risks beyond my expertise?”

Had a heart attack? “What lifestyle changes could I have made for a different outcome?”

Of course, there are all those dreadful diseases one can acquire where it appears, the patient played no role in developing. Was it heredity, bad luck, or random cases of the universe playing tricks on us? No doubt, we can’t control it all.

But as I look back over the years I have to take full responsibility for my three blocked arteries and the consequences of the necessity of this enormous surgery. I knew about the hereditary factor on my mother’s side of the family, succumbing to hearts attacks, strokes, diabetes, and a myriad of other inflammatory diseases. Why didn’t I do something about that?

I thought I was on a path to longevity when from a young age I exercised, maintained a healthy diet and weight, didn’t abuse drugs or alcohol, and quit smoking (only occasionally with a glass of wine or a cocktail) decades ago.

But, stress which plays a role in building plaque in the arteries, typical for Type A personalities like me, was a huge contributor and I made little effort to avert it in my hectic lifestyle before we embarked on this journey.

In the ’90s our medical plan offered a discount on a full-body arterial scan and foolishly I refused to do it thinking I couldn’t possibly have blocked arteries. Tom went ahead to discover he had zero plaque in his arteries and gained a lot of peace of mind. Did I avoid the test for fear of what may be found? 

I thought I was exempt from heart disease based on my lifestyle. How wrong I was! Had I known this 20 years ago, would I have been able to change the progression of atherosclerosis? Possibly, to avoid what I’ve been experiencing of late.

So, the infection in both of my legs? Could I have avoided this? I showered when I was told I could. I applied sterile bandages when the wounds were weeping. I walked as directed, took all the medication as directed, and made every effort to rest and sleep.

And then, there were 12.

In the past 24 hours, it dawned on me why I most likely got the infection in my legs. The following notice was posted on Facebook on March 5 notifying local residents that the water supply, although not drinkable by our standards (we only drink purified bottled water), was finally in a safe state, fit for human use.
Here’s the post from that date from a local official:

WATER TEST RESULTS: As you can see below the water test results of Dec 2018 showed that our water was not fit for human consumption as the coliform markers were too high, which meant fecal contamination. This marker/contamination could have made senior citizens, children, and people with low immune systems sick as per the lab scientists. BUT I had it retested now in Feb 2019 and now it is compliant and fit for human consumption. I also asked them to do ph, chlorine, etc. tests as well to see if our water could be the source of the rash and itching experienced by many owners/visitors. As can be seen, nothing in the water results points to a possible cause for rash/itch. I will, however, take samples personally at different points and have them tested personally to make double sure when I come down next week to Marloth. I will report back to all as to the results. Would I personally drink the water? No. Too much sewerage and waste are being deposited into our rivers in this day and age. But ultimately it is each owner/visitor’s prerogative if they want to drink the water or not. A Health Department representative will meet with me on Monday 11th March at the municipal boardroom in Marloth Park at 10 am to research the rash/itch situation. I will post about this shortly. I will be receiving and posting a monthly water test result for all to peruse.”

Could it be that when returning from the hospital 20 days ago and taking my first shower since February 12th, the day of the surgery (when I was instructed to shower from head to toe three times with a strong anti-bacterial soap) that this dirty water here in Marloth Park entered the still open incisions to cause the infection?

It was only about three days later that I began to feel more pain in my legs. We’d even gone as far as heading to our local doctor two weeks ago when the pain had escalated in my legs since returning to Marloth Park. There was no evidence of infection at that appointment, although the wounds looked bad and felt worse.

I knew about the bad water. I should never have taken the first shower. I should have been using bottled water until the wounds closed. I knew better. Why didn’t I listen to my instincts?

They stayed in the garden for over an hour while Tom continued to toss pellets their way.

Lesson learned?  Yes, those instincts of ours tend to be in our hearts and minds for a reason.  I’ve promised myself to pay more attention, be more mindful, and stop trying to avoid facing uncomfortable facts.

That’s the problem with us “overly bubbly” types. We can easily be accused of putting our heads in the sand. By the way, ostriches do not put their heads in the sand.  Going forward, nor will I.

Plan B for today…at 1645 hours (4:45 pm) today I have an appointment with Dr. Theo (for a second opinion) to see if he thinks I need to go into the hospital. If he says I do, then I will. If not, I’ll continue with the current regimen of antibiotics, probiotics, and twice daily application of an antibiotic wash and cream as directed.  

Now that I know the “why” I can exact the “what” to put all of this behind me in due time.

Photo from one year ago today, March 15, 2018:
Four waterbucks were sunning on sandbars on the Crocodile River. For more river photos, please click here.

Exquisite scenery from the Marloth Park side of the Crocodile River…Staying healthy, a must for this life!…

It was hard to believe we captured this scene close to sunset.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Notice the appearance of a face in the rocks near the top center of this photo.

It’s almost noon on Sunday and I’m getting a late start to today’s post. Recently, on a relatively strict diet to lose the weight I’d gained these past few years since my gastrointestinal problems began, I’m only 2.5 kg (5.5 pounds) away from my goal.  

A pair of retired generals, perhaps?

Once I reach that goal, I will post the details here including what I’ve been doing to lose weight which is difficult with my already strict way of eating, what I did and didn’t give up, my weight at the start, and the final total weight loss.

Zebras were standing in a waterhole drinking and cooling off.

It’s been slow, averaging only a .45 kg (one pound) loss per week but I’m thrilled to be able to fit back into clothes I’ve dragged around the world for a few years hoping I’d fit in them once again.  

A mom and youngster grazing near the water’s edge.

Of course, now I’m stuck with many items that are way too big, which I’ll donate before we leave South Africa, whenever that may be. In the interim Tom who’d also gained a few kilos is now gradually returning to his lowest weight which was when we were in Belize almost six years ago.

This elephant was trying to figure out how to climb these steep rocks. Eventually, she turned and took a different route.

We’re hell-bent on not carrying excess weight when our goal is to stay fit and healthy so we can continue traveling. We’ve both found we feel our very best at the lower end of our weight ranges which like everyone, fluctuates from time to time.

Five giraffes at the river’s edge.

No, we’re not obsessed with the “numbers’ but we’re definitely determined to keep our lipids, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and weight at a level of optimum wellness for our ages.

Zebras coming down the steep hill to the Crocodile River.

No doubt, I’d had my share of medical ups and downs these past several years.  But, now I see I need to pay more attention to wellness and less attention to the vulnerability of advancing age.  

The hot weather brought many animals down to the Crocodile River.

Fortunately, none of my issues had left me wanting to stop traveling. At times, it was difficult to carry on but the sheer love of our lifestyle has kept me motivated to forging ahead. Now that I’m feeling so well I never forget to be grateful each and every day while continuing on the mission to maintain good health.

Giraffes rarely bend to the ground other than to drink.  They are vulnerable to predators in this position.

One’s mental health is equally important in this process and nothing could bring us more joy than the amazing relationship we share as we travel the world.  This extended stay in South Africa, hopefully lasting until February 20, 2019, when we fly to Kenya (providing we are able to get visa extensions) means we only have 150 days remaining until we leave.

A few male impalas and two giraffes could be mom and youngster.

The remaining 150 days constitute a total of four months and 28 days. We both want to thank all of our worldwide readers for staying with us as we’ve continued to write and post photos of some fairly repetitive scenarios.

Giraffes heading back up the embankment while zebras languished in the water.

We present today’s photos with a little different perspective, not just animal photos per se but scenes with the wildlife we’ve been fortunate to see while on the Marloth Park side of the fence, overlooking the Crocodile River, taken on the two outrageously hot days this past week.

A few of the zebras began to wander off while the others stayed behind.

Enjoy our photos and especially, enjoy YOUR day!

Photo from one year ago today, September 23, 2017:

Much of the produce at the Central Market in Atenas appears to be imported when it’s perfectly shaped and mostly clean. At the feria, the Friday Atenas Farmer’s Market, the vegetables appear to have been “just picked” with excess leaves and insects still on them. That’s the type of produce we prefer to buy.  For more photos, please click here.

An outstanding drive in the park…They’re baaaack!!!!…Two days and counting…

Mom and baby love.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

We continue to take nighttime photos of the bushbabies on the stand eating the little cups of yogurt to see how many we can capture. We counted seven here but not all of them is easily shown in the photo.

With few animals visiting since last Wednesday when the holidaymakers started arriving for the long weekend, yesterday we were determined to be able to take plenty of photos to share over the next few days until we get to Zambia and Botswana.

We had few expectations even commenting to one another that with all the commotion in Marloth Park we’d see few animals within the park but might have safari luck looking across the fence to the Crocodile River in Kruger.  How wrong we were!

There were no less than 12 zebras in the dazzle, many of which included youngsters.

Sure, we saw plenty of wildlife on the river but that’s always from such a distance that the photos don’t always come out as good as we’d like. We’ll share those photos over the next few days until we depart on Thursday for Zambia, after which we’ll have plenty of new photos to share on our activities in both Zambia and Botswana.

After driving for about 15 minutes and taking a series of ostrich photos, yes on Volstruis Road (which means ostrich in Afrikaans) and a few surrounding roads, Tom spotted some giraffes and zebras on a side street.

Baby zebras always seem a little dazed and confused, sticking close to their moms.

Today, we’re sharing the zebra photos, and tomorrow we’ll post the giraffe photos that include a story that was quite entertaining. Please check back for those photos.

As for the dazzle of zebras, we couldn’t have been more dazzled. In researching the definition of the word “dazzle” from Merriam Webster dictionary, we noted the following: 
a. To shine brightly;
b. To arouse admiration by an impressive display.  

They were on a mission.  We couldn’t tell what motivated them to stay on the move.

Hum…it’s no wonder a group of zebras is called a “dazzle.” They certainly arouse admiration by an impressive display! And that they did yesterday as we slowly drove up and down the road observing them on their apparent mission to an unknown destination.

We’ve noticed that when zebras come to call, they don’t stay long like many others. They eat their pellets, jockeying for position with one another for the closest advantage to the food, kick up their hooves a few times when being pushed out and then, are on their way.

The babies were able to keep up the pace.

Often warthogs, kudus, bushbucks, and others will lounge about the garden, some even laying down for a rest or a nap as we’ve shown in prior photos. But zebras? Nope, they move along. Perhaps with their larger weight than some others, they require more food.

From this site:“Males are slightly larger than the females, and they have a narrow black stripe running vertically between their hind legs. In females, this stripe is wider. Males grow to between 1.35 meters (53 inches) and 1.37 meters (54 inches) at the shoulder and their weight is between 290 kg (629 pounds) and 340 kg (750 pounds), while females weigh about 260 kg (573 pounds).”

They traveled in a long row making it impossible to take photos of the entire dazzle.

In any case, the sightings for the day were much more than we’d expected, and by the time we returned to the house, we were fulfilled and satisfied with the excellent day in the bush.

They stopped to drink from a cement pond.

However, once we set up the veranda for the evening, we didn’t expect many visitors. The holidaymakers were still leaving the park and sightings were sparse. We had a number of warthogs, one bushbuck, and one duiker stop by for a visit.

Stopping in the shade to cool off for a moment.

This morning, now that a day had passed, as usual, they started returning to see us.  At 6:30 am, we had several sounders of warthogs including “mom and five babies,” three bushbucks, “mom, baby, and friend,” no less than a dozen kudus including “Big Daddy and Little Daddy,” lots of guinea fowls, and unfortunately, way too many monkeys.  

Tom spent most of the morning chasing off the monkeys while I stayed busy preparing tonight’s dinner, doing laundry, packing a few more items, and sorting through zillions of photos for today’s post.

When it’s so much hotter in the summer months, we can only imagine how hot it is for wildlife especially when water is sparse.

At the moment we’re sitting indoors on the sofa while Josiah cleans the veranda (a daily necessity with all the blowing sand and leaves) while Martha is sweeping and washing the floors on the inside of the house (almost daily). We’re anxious to get back outside to see who may visit us today and tonight.  

They made their way through trees and vegetation in the gardens of homes along the way.

The pounding next door has stopped and for these next two days, we can relax and enjoy that which we’ve come to know and love…paradise in the bush.

Be well. Be happy.

Photo from one year ago today, August 14, 2017:

This is a variety of Bromeliad growing on the grounds of the villa in Costa Rica. For more photos of the exquisite landscaping, please click here.