There’s the hard part too…More visitors…More photos…Life in the bush…

Mr. Kudu came to call!

We’ve never intended to imply that living in the bush is easy amid all of our nearly constant entertainment from the wildlife and with the people we meet. In many ways, it’s definitely not for the faint at heart.  

Giraffe in the neighborhood that we spotted on the way out of the driveway to go to the store.

Perhaps living in the mountains of Italy in the summer and then Kenya in their late spring for three months toughened us. I assure you, had we gone directly from Minnesota to either of these locations, we may have turned around and gone back to the US.

Notice the Kudu’s head tipped up to grab a leaf from the tree near our carport.

Perhaps it was our good fortune to have “worked our way” into tougher living conditions that brought us to where we are now, at peace and at home in the bush, but mindful of potential risks facing all visitors to this rough terrain.

This is the mineral lick we purchased for visitors that is recommended by the rangers as an excellent adjunct to the visitor’s natural diet of greenery. So far, the kudus are the only visitors that have tried it. The others sniff and walk away. We’d hoped this would attract wildebeests, yet to spend time in our yard, only running through on one occasion.

Below are the adjustments that we have freely become accustomed to living in Marloth Park that others may find uncomfortable and unbearable. For us and many other tourists, the choice to visit Africa comes with the acceptance of challenges that one can choose to accept for the joy that Africa can bring in so many ways.

Kudu closeup was taken while I stood directly in front of him, behind the veranda railing.

1.  Gecko poop – It’s everywhere, including in the house. The thatched roof provides easy access for the Geckos to enter. Although harmless, they can be annoying, when last night one ran across the kitchen counter during the preparation of dinner. We see no less than six of them a day inside the house. Outside on the veranda, they are everywhere.  We don’t care.

Our warthog friends visit frequently, now so, at ease, they’ve started napping in our yard.
In the same manner, as beloved pets do, even warthogs tuck their chins onto their front “paws” when resting.  

2.  Heat – It’s summer in South Africa.  It’s not uncommon for the temperature to be as high as 100 F, 37.78C or more and humidity to be in the 80% range. In this house, there is AC in both bedrooms and the upstairs living room/loft. There’s no AC in the kitchen or main floor living room. We spend most of the day outside and only come inside to the loft when we need to cool off.

The family of nine still stops by almost every day. The other mom and one more baby were off to the side when taking this photo. The babies love looking at us almost as much as the moms. Each time they arrive, we take a headcount ensuring all nine are still there.

3.  Rain – It’s the rainy season now. Since we’ve been here it’s been cloudy five out of seven days a week. For those that require lots of sunshine, this may be an issue in the summer. We no longer have a tan or bother to try. The sun when it does shine is so hot it’s unbearable to lounge in a lawn chair. This is of little concern to us when neither of us bothered by rain or cloudy days. We do miss the visitors who seem to stay away on rainy days.

Upstairs in the loft with AC, in the awful heat a few days ago, we took kudu photos from the second-floor veranda as they looked up at us. Kudus can weigh 700 lbs., 317.5 kg, or more.

4.  Insects – They’re everywhere, zillions of them, though not inside the house as much as they were in Kenya. With no screens here, we keep the doors and windows shut constantly and keep our bedroom door closed at all times. With no mosquito nets here (Louise offered but we declined) we’ve found keeping the door shut helps. It’s still necessary to inspect shoes and clothing before dressing to ensure nothing lurks inside.

Kudus never seem to miss a photo op.

5.  Power outages – Although not as frequent as in Kenya, it does occur for short periods an average of once a week. We’ve learned to keep all of our equipment charged at all times allowing us to watch movies during a power outage. 

The pink inside their ears, the one line across the bridge of their nose, the white mustache, and the white stripes on their bodies, make the kudu a particularly beautiful animal. Females kudus don’t have horns, the mustache, or the white stripe on the bridge of the nose.

6.  Bumpy roads – If a person had a medical issue that made driving on bumpy roads a concern, this environment would not be appropriate. Few roads are paved in Marloth Park. Driving around looking for wildlife is one seriously bouncy experience. We don’t give it a thought other than possible damage to the tiny pink car.  Had we been willing to spend four times more than we paid, a 4 x 4, would have been a better option.

Zebra by the local watering hole.  Others were nearby as we observed on our way to the store.

7.  Wild animals – The very essence of the joy of Marloth Park is the wildlife over which one must exercise consideration and caution around them.  They are wild after all and could carry disease, attack if provoked or in the case of a few snakes and other creatures could inflict life-threatening bites and injuries. The closest medical clinic is a 30-minute drive.  

Had we not experienced the four-hour rough and dangerous road in Belize, the hairpin turn roads in Tuscany, the bumpy roads in Kenya, we may have been less tolerant. Had we not been exposed to the endless noisy geckos in Belize, batted off the flies and bees in Tuscany, danced around the centipedes and other insects in Kenya, or experienced day-long power outages, we’d be less tolerant.

But, experience is a powerful teacher and by learning, we continue to glean something new and meaningful each and every day in one manner or another.Each day brings new challenges but with it, comes the exquisite opportunity to embrace life in the bush, so far removed from the life we lived only a short time ago. For this, we are eternally grateful. For this, we will never forget.

Comments and responses There’s the hard part too…More visitors…More photos…Life in the bush…

  1. Isabel@FS Reply

    Dear Jessica and Tom,

    Belated Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday! I’m sorry I’ve absent for some time. I have just spent the most enjoyable evening catching up on December! Love the pink car  Hope you are both used to it now, and I am sure it makes it easier to spot in parking lots. Your pictures and videos are spectacular. Better than that, I don’t have the words. Your day on Dec 28 took my breath away. I have always ‘loved’ elephants but never been closer than the zoo. I don’t know why I love them, I just feel a warmth and tenderness for them. Your post and videos on Dec 28 almost brought tears to my eyes. And the Kudos – so majestic; the giraffes; the wart hogs – your particular favorites. So much variety of wild life. Indeed it is Christmas every day there. Thank you for sharing your life as you do; the good and the bad. I love living your life through your eyes. It is wonderful that you have made new friends and that they are so welcoming, and that your hosts look after you so well. You admit that you have changed and grown in ways you didn’t anticipate and I am sure that will continue to be the case. I can’t believe how little you have in the way of worldly possessions and clothes. I bet you find it hard to believe yourself, how little you have in your wardrobe now, and how little it really matters. Comfortable safe shoes, which you just bought and had delivered, I think would be an essential. I can’t believe that in South Africa you can’t or are charged extra for – shipping a pair of shows. Ridiculous to me but every place has its own customs.
    Enjoy New Year’s and all the adventures to come. Continue to be vigilant and safe. Those baboons don’t sound nice at all but the other wild life seems as respectful of you as you are of them. Do you ever swim in the pool? I think I would have to have Tom on guard and then you guard him, if you used it. Too much can sneak up on you 
    I hope you have something fun to do on New Year’s Eve, but I think you too have fun whether you are in a crowd or just yourselves; it is wonderful that you love each other so much and are so comfortable together; you are both very fortunate in that.
    Take care and I look forward to your daily blog. Life gets in the way of my checking on you daily but believe it or not I think of you daily and wonder what delight and wonder you have found that day.
    – Isabel

  2. Jessica Reply

    Dear Isabel,
    It's wonderful to hear from you again! Please don't feel you need to apologize for not commenting. To us, receiving comments is a gift, which should only be appreciated and not expected. Thus, your words mean so much. Tom thanks you for birthday wishes.

    You asked if we ever swim in the pool. We haven't yet. Often scorpions jump into the pool along with many other insects and it is not appealing to enter. It's cleaned twice a week, chlorinated and filtered but it just doesn't get clean enough to wander in. Maybe we're too picky. You're so right about "things" sneaking up on us.

    Yes, tonight we have plans as we hope you do as well. In our old lives, we hadn't made plans for New Years in the past 10 years or more. But now, in Marloth park, with the friendly locals, we look forward to spending time with new friends we've made tonight, as we did last night.

    We hope you and your family had a fabulous Christmas and have a Happy New Year to come.

    As we sit here outdoors writing to you now, we have a Kudu visitor and a young mom and 4 Warthog babies, most likely less than 2 or 3 weeks old. We never tired of their antics.

    Thanks for writing once again, Isabel.

    Warmest regards,

    Jess & Tom

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