Today, we depart!…Love and understanding in two different worlds, yet in one…

The second time he came up the steps he was a little more brazen and came right into the house, while we were sitting on the sofa and didn’t see him right away.  We howled.

“Sighting of the Day in the Bush”

Mutton Chops and Scar Face stopped by many times but we haven’t seen them in months after Basket chased them and Tusker out of our garden.  Now Basket visits with his new girlfriend with whom he actually shares the pellets.

It’s 11:00 am and we’re packed and ready.  All we have left to do is to close the bags and weigh them on our portable scale.  Once we sort out any overweight discrepancies, if necessary, we’ll remove some items and place them in the duffle bag along with a few odds and ends.

Little, tentatively climbing the steps to the veranda for a few pellets we gave him when we found him kneeling like this from the top step.

I’ve managed to fit all of my clothes in my one suitcase after giving Zef a huge plastic bag filled with clothing I’d never wear again, some too low cut for the big scar on my chest and others not appropriate for any of our ongoing travels.

Little, “Pig in a Pond.”

But, today’s story isn’t about packing or medical issues nor will future posts be about such over the upcoming months.  With the doctor confirming that my leg is healing sufficiently and that we won’t need further care at a wound clinic, we can manage the care on our own.  Yesterday, we purchased all the necessary supplies.  

Every other day, we’ll clean the wound, apply the cream and bandages and it should heal within three months or sooner.  It continues to be painful but I can live with that, as long as I know it’s on the mend.

Today’s story and photos brought tears to my eyes.  Last night when we were out to dinner with Kathy, Don, Linda, and Ken, Don asked me, “What is your best memory from the past 15 months, excluding good times with friends?”
I began to answer but the table of us became distracted by a young man from Holland who stopped by to say hello and share a drink with the boys.  

His feet were muddy and he made a mess but we didn’t care.  It was Little, coming to call.

Quietly, I sat at the head of the table with Kathy on my right and Linda on my left, my girls, along with Louise and many others, who kept me holding it together these past months.  (I toasted them, alcohol-free, on Thursday night at the dinner table with tears in my eyes).

The answer to Don’s question lingered in the air, unanswered but surely, this group of friends (including Tom) knew exactly how I’d answer.  My answer wasn’t necessary, especially knowing most of them will read this final post from Marloth Park.

It was Little.   

Pigs are actually considered the fifth-most intelligent animal in the world—even more intelligent than dogs—and are capable of playing video games with more focus and success than chimps! They also have excellent object-location memory. If they find grub in one spot, they’ll remember to look there next time.”

He was nervous at first, as he wondered if this was acceptable.

Was it his intellect or sensitivity that attracted me to him from the first time we saw him over a year ago?  Most likely it was both.  When I looked into his eyes and spoke to him in a soft loving voice, in time he’d actually stop eating the pellets to listen to me.
His response so much reminded me of the amazing interactions we had with our dogs over the years.  They listened when we spoke, often tilting their heads from side to side trying desperately to decipher the meanings of our words, our tone, and our demeanor.

Over time and countless interactions, this very same behavior from Little became evident to me in many ways.  He’d often look for me, to the point, he’d climb the treacherous slippery tile steps from the garden to the veranda traversing the steps, back and forth in order to maintain a foothold. 

Video of Little in the house.

His spikey toenails are used for digging up roots, not necessarily for climbing on slippery surfaces.  He took the risk of stumbling down those dangerous steps to see me.  No doubt, pellets were also on his mind, but we’d gladly toss pellets to him in the garden, all he could eat.  It wasn’t necessary for him to climb the steps.

The look on his face when he stood in the doorway on many occasions, was sheepish, often like that of a dog that knew the possibility of reprimand was at hand. And in his intelligence, he chose to take the risk, knowing full well it would be worth it.  I’ll miss him.  He’ll miss me.

Once he realized he was welcome, he settled in for a long nap.

He wasn’t as attached to Tom since on a few occasions when he was very muddy Tom shooed him off the veranda, scolding him.  He didn’t forget this scolding but it didn’t stop him from trying over and over again.

In the past several days he’s come to call many times.  Does he know we’re leaving?  Didn’t our dogs and cats become anxious when they sensed we were going away?  Pigs are smarter and more sensitive than dogs and cats.  Why would they not sense such a departure, such a loss?

During his visits in the past week when I’ve finally been able to walk to the edge of the veranda to see him, (he heard my voice many times during my recovery but hadn’t laid eyes on me), those beady little eyes were so intent and serious when we made eye contact, that I found myself in tears, knowing we’d be leaving soon.

A few days after Little’s first visit inside the house, he brought a friend to show him the goodies.  We aptly named his friend “Little’s Friend” and he often visits on his own and now responds to his name.

As I spoke to him in familiar words I often repeated his shook his head from side to side, acknowledging our connection.  I’d say, “Is that you, Little?” or “Little’s a big boy?” or “How’s my boy today?”  And, if pigs could smile, he would have.  I smiled for both of us.

Now, we go, we carry on, with memories of this magical place, these magical and mysterious animals whom we’ve come to know and love and we leave nothing behind.

With us, always in our hearts, will be the memories that we’ll carry with us, tales we’ll share with others who  will look dumbfounded when we try to explain the power and meaning of Marloth Park and these special relationships.

Little has brought us so many laughs and so much joy.  When I talk to him, he shakes his head in acknowledgment, not unlike a dog or cat would do.  Pigs are listed to be smarter than dogs.  Why wouldn’t they relate to us in the way our pets do?

I realize I can’t hold the attention with tales of Little at a table for 10 during dinner on a cruise ship.  But I can always smile to myself as the tears well up in my eyes over the memories of this special friend, in this special place and during this special time.

Goodbye Little.  Goodbye, Little’s Friend, Frank, and the Mrs., Cupid, Big Daddies, Wart Face, Scar Face, Wounded, Basket, Tusker, Wildebeest Willie; Ms. Bushbuck; zebras, giraffes, lizards, Froggie, Mom & Babies, Sigfried and Roy, Mike and Joe, hornbills and many more.  We’ll miss you all.

It was Little.


Photo from one year ago today, May 11, 2018:

Around 2:00 pm on Friday, one year ago today, we arrived at the Harry Mwanga Nkumbula International Airport in Livingstone, Zambia. For more photos, please click here.

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