The holiday season has begun in Marloth Park....Warnings for holidaymakers with children...


Island life for this cape buffalo with a friend on the river's edge.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"

Our resident frog which we mistakenly assumed was a male, in fact, is a female.  In frogs, the male is much smaller than the female.  The male took up residence with her overnight last night. We'll continue to observe to see what transpires for this mating pair.  She's been sitting there for months although she took off during the rain last week, returning three nights later.  When we turn on this light fixture at night, the insects are prolific and she sits there darting out her tongue for tasty treats.  We'll see how it goes tonight with two of them sharing the nighttime opportunities.
We were both up at the crack of dawn, hoping to reach grandson Vincent to wish him a happy birthday. The time difference is 12 hours.  He and his family are in Maui, Hawaii for the holiday season snorkeling, boogie boarding, and scuba diving.

As holidaymakers and activities have ramped up this weekend in Marloth Park, we are seeing a distinct reduction in the number of wildlife visitors and more and more vehicles on the roads.  
The only elephant we spotted on the river this morning with a cattle egret in flight near its trunk.
So far today, we've fed a few bushbuck moms and babies.  Perhaps by early evening when the garden is usually filled with a wide array of wildlife, we'll have more visitors.  But, for now, we're on our own.

We took off in the red car around 8:00 am to drive around the park.  We encountered many vehicles but few animals other than those we've shown here today with fewer sightings on the Crocodile River than usual.
A pair of male ostriches wandering through the bush this morning.
On Facebook, this morning and we noticed this warning about children in the park written by a conscientious and dedicated ranger:

Good morning everyone.
Please warn all your guests to not leave small children to explore the bush without an adult. We do have a lot of snakes out and about at the moment. 


There was also an incident this morning with 2 small children going right up to Kudu bulls to feed them without an adult nearby, we luckily had an owner stop them. (Kudu bulls have massive horns and although not necessarily aggressive animals could easily and unintentionally impale a child or adult).

All animals are wild, before we have serious injuries, please let us educate those who think we are a petting zoo. Thank you.
CPF/SECTORS/RANGERS AND SECURITY." 

For the first time, we noticed ostrich's ears which may usually be hidden under layers of plumage. Unlike humans, birds' ears are holes on either side of their head, with no cartilage. Contrary to what most humans believe, ostriches do not stick their heads in the sand.
We see this type of behavior all the time, especially during holidays when the park is filled with tourists.  Once again, we're driving past cars with children, young children, sitting on the parent's lap driving the vehicle, often a large SUV or truck.

Recently, we encounter two girls alone in the front seat of an SUV, with one driving, neither of whom could have been over 12 years old.  Who are these parents that allow this dangerous activity?  
During the mating season (June- November) the male ostrich’s beak and legs turn red/pink to attract the female for mating.
Sure, there are many periods of time where there are no police in Marloth Park for long stretches although, in the past few days, we have seen a few police vehicles. We hope they stay through the holiday season.

Does this fact give people the right to ignore laws, endangering not only their own children's lives but the lives of others including the wildlife?  Last holiday season, spring break, 12 animals were killed from speeding and careless driving in the park.  This was devastating news to all of us who love this place and it's wildlife occupants.
A peculiar looking bird isn't it?  Ostriches are remnants of the prehistoric era.
Besides the risk to humans, wildlife and property there is also a lack of consideration by some holidaymakers over noise (and trash) restrictions as part of the regulations in Marloth Park.  

This is supposed to be a peaceful and quiet place where wildlife and humans alike can co-exist in a stressfree environment.  Sadly, that's not always the case during holiday periods and, at other times as well.
From this angle, it's difficult to determine the species, other than due to the long neck.
We're hoping after posting this on several Marloth Park pages in Facebook some holidaymakers may have an opportunity to realize the value of an opportunity to experience this magical place.

The rules and regulations for Marloth Park may be found here at this link.  Although many of these rules are applicable to construction and building, in reading through the list, toward the end, each regulation has a deep and genuine purpose of maintaining the integrity and value of this special community and safety for all blessed to be here.
A saddle-billed stork on the Crocodile River this morning.
Sure, we are only visitors ourselves here (for almost one year, leaving in February ) and who are we to tell others how to behave?  But, our motives are not entirely altruistic.  

We plan to return to Marloth Park 21 months after we leave and we can only hope we'll find it to be as meaningful and magical as it's been for us for this full year we've spent living here.  

Perhaps this is selfish but if everyone shared a similar selfishness to keep Marloth Park as wonderful as it is, we'd each commit to a personal role in appreciating our time here and dedicating our efforts for the benefits of the wildlife and the surroundings.  

Ultimately in doing so, the humans will continue to relish in the beauty and wonder of one of the most special places on earth.

Be well.  Be happy, during this holiday season and always.
                    ___________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, December 16, 2017:

Views of Cape Horn, known as the bottom of the world, from the ship's bow.  For more photos please click here.

Filling in the gaps...It was about time to start booking for the future...


Louise and her adventurous son Jandre (who recently returned from an exciting two months in Thailand) stopped by for a visit and sundowners last night.  There was a bowl of nuts for the humans and a bigger bowl of carrots and apples for the wildlife.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
After Louise had seen our photos of Little coming up the steps to the veranda, we all laughed out loud when he did it again while they were here.  
In years past, six to be exact, we always stayed on top of filling in gaps in our itinerary.  As a matter of fact, during the first few years, we were always completely booked for two years in advance.

As time has marched on we've found it isn't necessary to have every gap, every hotel, every vacation rental, every car rental, and every flight booked so far in advance. 

However, we've found it necessary to know where we'd prefer to be in the upcoming two years, enabling us to research.  Also, we never show up in a country without reservations for a hotel or holiday home.  We have no interest in "winging it."
We're always thrilled to see giraffes in Marloth Park.
Traveling the world has been a learning process.  When we started in 2012, there wasn't a training manual on how to do this.  Over the years many travelers have asked us for advice and we've been delighted to share our best tips for those considering embarking on this lifestyle.

Recently, we read that over 1,000,000 Americans are traveling full-time.  There were so few when we started six years ago.  At this point, we often wonder how many have been traveling, without a home or apartment or motorhome, without storage, or without a car, who've been traveling for six years or more.

If you've been "out there" for longer than five or six years, we'd love to hear from you and compare notes.  We've met many who've traveled in a motorhome for decades.  To us, that's a home of sorts and generally, those who've made this choice, generally stay on one continent, most often their home country to avoid immigration issues.
They often stop eating to check us out.  Once realizing we're aren't a threat, they return to eating the leaves on the treetops.
Many years ago long before we ever decided to travel the world, we discussed the idea of owning a motorhome and traveling the US but dismissed it entirely when the discussion came up in January 2012, of traveling the world.  

We didn't want the responsibility of owning "stuff" packed into a "moving home" nor did we care for the idea of the upkeep, maintenance, and daily management a motorhome requires.  For many, they do this with ease and enthusiasm.  It just wasn't right for us.

Oddly, as world travelers, we aren't that big on long road trips.  We never have been.  This fact has inspired us to find countries, towns, villages we'd like to visit and stay put for a month or more as we make every effort to learn the culture, adapt and blend in.
At quite a distance, a hippo we spotted yesterday on our usual drive.
From this perspective, we've gleaned the best experiences we could ever expect and we look forward to the future as much now as we did in the beginning.  Plus, in the process, we've learned to "live in the moment" wherever that may be.

This one year stint in Marloth Park will be our last long-term stay (beyond three months).  It was only this magical place that inspired us to stay for such an extended period.  When we return in December 2020, we'll only stay in South Africa for 90 days, avoiding any potential immigration hassles.

It wasn't that we haven't loved every moment in Marloth Park.  We've had a fantastic experience that ends in a mere 61 days.  It will be hard to leave our human and animal friends.  
But, it will be time to move on and resume our continuing travels throughout the world, not staying too long in any one location.  There's still so much world left to experience.  Health provided, we'll continue for as long as we can.

Recently, we'd considered going to Rwanda to see the gorillas.  But after careful review of our budget and upcoming expenses (many flights, two cruises and the balance on the amazing Kenya tour in February), we decided we needed to hold off on that adventure until we return to Africa in 2020.
A pair of cape buffalos grazing at the river's edge.
These decisions aren't always easy but practicality must prevail in our lifestyle if we intend to be able to continue on indefinitely at this point.  We are not wealthy people, as some world travelers, we've encountered along the way.  We must remain frugal and sensible at all times.

But, in the process, we've learned how to find great holiday rentals, at prices affordable for our budget.  Of course, pricing is often subject to how long one stays and of course, the good exposure the landlords acquire from our online promotion of their rental properties.  These two facts alone have played a big role in making this work for us without sacrificing living in nice properties.

With the Kenya tour beginning on February 22, 2019, and the South Africa visa requirement that we depart on February 15, 2019, suddenly we were looking at a week we had to fill between these two dates.

The question became, how expensive could we make this week and still stay within the budget.  Hotels and resorts in Kenya are expensive considering the quality we prefer.  

A four elephant family spending time together at the river.
Since we'll be embarking on the extensive and expensive Greg Harvey safari photographic tour (click here for details) for 15 nights beginning on February 22nd and after all the safari and wildlife experiences we've had in South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana over the past year, we decided to keep costs down and spend a quiet week in Nairobi, Kenya.

We won't be sitting around the hotel day and night.  There are several sightseeing venues we'll explore while there which we'll share with photos along the way.

Last night, we booked the hotel, close to the airport where we'll leave the bulk of our luggage when we take off on the 22nd and return to on the last day, according to the itinerary of the tour.  This way, we won't have to move all of our stuff leaving us more time to do what we'd like during the one week stay.

We booked the Four Points by Sheraton near the airport at a cost for seven nights of ZAR 22764 (US $1582) which includes breakfast, wi-fi, and a king deluxe room.  Our additional expenses will be tours, transportation, tips, and the evening meal. (Neither of us eats lunch or snacks during the day based on our way of eating that totally eliminates daytime hunger).
A mom and youngster at the Crocodile River.
We also booked a hotel in Nelspruit, fairly close to the airport, for one night on February 14th since our flight to Kenya departs early in the morning.  With the over an hour drive from Marloth Park to the airport with potential road delays we've experienced in the past, we decided to take no risks and stay overnight in Nelspruit.  

Next, we'll be getting to work on booking our flight from Nairobi, Kenya to Santiago, Chile on March 7th or 8th.  The Kenya tour ends on March 7th, (which is the date of our wedding anniversary) and we haven't decided if we'll stay one more night in Kenya or head directly to South America the same day.  We'll know once we check out flights in the next few days.

So there it is folks.  The beginnings of filling in the gaps in our itinerary over the two years, all of which we'll continue to post here as we go along.

Tonight, we're dining at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant with Rita and Gerhard and Kathy and Don, who are returning to Marloth Park for the holidays.  We have lots of exciting plans with our friends over the holiday season and for Tom's birthday as well on December 23rd.

Have a fabulous weekend!
__________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, December 15, 2017:

Note the snow-covered pointed peaks in the Chilean Fiords.  For more photos, please click here.

High cost of living in the US compared to South Africa..."You've Got a Friend"...That is, .Little certainly does...Pig paradise in the park...


Little told his friend that the "pickins" were good at this house so they both climbed the six steps up to the veranda to the front door.  I was in the shower and missed the funny event.  Tom tossed pellets to the ground that motivated them to climb down.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
The Big Daddies didn't seem as interested in the lucerne as the female kudus but this one managed a few mouthsful.
Yesterday's trip to Komatipoort went well.  The visit with dentist Dr. Luzann went better than expected and once my dental work is completed over the next month, I'll share details here.
"Pigs on the porch,"  Pigs in the pond," and Pigs in a pile,"  It's "Pig Paradise in the Park."
Coincidentally Gerhard also had a dentist appointment with Dr. Luzann yesterday, a few hours after mine ended. He was thrilled with his cleaning and of course, the reasonable cost of ZAR 388 (US $27) compared to the typical ZAR 2876 ($200) cost for the same service in the US.  
"Little" was checking out what the kudus were eating.
After his appointment ended, he and Rita headed to Ngwenya where we met up with them for drinks on the veranda followed by the buffet dinner in the dining room.  As always the conversation was superb, the drinks refreshing, and the food, although the same items each Thursday, was consistently good.

We're always surprised with the reasonable cost for such a meal with drinks, tax, and tips.  Mine and Tom's total was only ZAR 325 (US $22.60).  At Jabula Lodge and Restaurant, which we consider a much better restaurant, it's usually twice the amount but well worth the added expense.

At this point, we've been dining out twice a week, once at Ngwenya and once at Jabula.  When we considered the combined weekly total it runs about ZAR 935 (US $65) averaging at ZAR 467 (US $32.50).  This is at least half as much as similar meals at a restaurant in the US, if not more.
Tom didn't feed him on the veranda but I surely would have.  Little is my favorite warthog.
Once again, when we arrive in the US in 115 days, dining out for each meal, we'll be shocked by the high prices, not only for restaurants, accommodations, and rental cars but for all other incidental costs.  Its the nature of the beast.

And, speaking of "the beast"...Tom had me in stitches this morning when he showed me the above photo he'd taken only moments earlier when I was in the shower.  Seeing the photo reminded me of James Taylor's popular song from 1971, "You've Got a Friend."  Click here to listen!
Piglets in a pile.
Apparently, Little, our favorite warthog had "told" a friend our house was a good place to visit.  But, not only the garden of our bush house but also, the veranda which requires only a few gingerly executed steps on slippery tiles to reach.  

They both embarked on the adventure and arrived without incident, shocking Tom in the process when he spotted the two pigs on the porch.  We couldn't help but laugh over the irony of the situation.
A male ostrich's flattened feathers during the downpour several days ago.
What's particularly funny is that animals are just like us, or shall I say, we're just like them?  There nothing like a good friend (s) and we, like Little, have been blessed to have many friends in Marloth Park and other parts of the world as our years-long journey continues.

Tonight, we'll dine in, spending most of the evening on the veranda, at least until the insects bombard us.  Every moment we spend whether its "Just the Two of Us" (click here for that song) or with wildlife or human friends, we feel fortunate during this very special time in our lives.

May you feel fortunate as well.  Happy day!

__________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, December 14, 2017:
Punta Arenas, Chile would have been a great port of call to visit but bad weather prevented the necessary use of the tenders.  We sailed away.  For more details, please click here.

"Buggie" nights...A reality of living in the bush in Africa during the summer months...

Mom with four piglets napping on the edge of the lucerne.  They visit at least once a day.  The piglets have begun to show some interest in pellets.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
A second visit from the thick-tailed bushbaby.
Last night around 2000 hours (8:00 pm), for the first time since we arrived in Marloth Park in February, there were so many insects buzzing us, flying in our faces and landing on and in our clothing, we had no choice but to go inside.
 
It went from almost no insects to this buzzing frenzy in a mere 24 hours.  The only thing we can attribute this to is a result of the rains of several days ago.  Even after we'd gone inside with the door closed, more insects buzzed us.  
 
We had no choice but to go into the bedroom (where we keep the door closed at all times), turn on the aircon and watch an episode of a TV series we're wrapping up after watching a few episodes each week, The Brave (disappointingly, this show wasn't renewed for a second season).
Wounded is beginning to look a little better but we doubt he can see from his left eye.  He looks thin and weary but we're feeding him all he'll eat and we're sure other residents are doing the same.
This morning as I was getting showered and dressed for the day, I spotted a slew of those pesky flying things in the bathroom.  How did they get in?  What are these long-winged beige colored flying things?  
I researched online but couldn't find them.  If any of our readers know what these are, please let us know.  We experienced these same pesky things in Kenya over five years ago.  I suppose we'll see them again when we return to Kenya in 64 days.
This morning, back on the veranda, no insects are flying about our heads other than an occasional fly, bee or hornet.  With both of us allergic to bees and hornets, we get up and move when they pester us.  I have so much repellent on, I can't imagine why any insect would approach me, but they do.
Six bushbucks came to call around the same time.  Generally, they don't stay in groups but these two moms, two babies, and two other females showed up simultaneously.
For the past week, I've been using the DEET free repellent friends Uschi and Evan recommended as non-toxic.  I'm still getting some bites but they don't appear to be mosquito bites.  
They look and react more like chigger bites.  I'm not getting bit at night since the mattress was replaced but can't figure out where these are coming from.  Each day I have three or four more bites that itch for weeks, especially during the night.  
 
Last night I was awakened no less than five times due to the severe itching of about six of the bites.  I put cortisone cream on them for a little bit of relief but only lasts for an hour or two.  I don't scratch much at all, knowing this makes it worse.
This is Africa.  There are insects and there are bites.  I guess I'll just have to live with it for the remaining time we're on the continent, using the safer DEET free repellent. The bites weren't occurring any less frequently when using the repellents with DEET so I suppose the DEET free product is ultimately better.
This morning we found thousands of dead insects on the veranda.  We have no idea why they died or why so many at one time. 
Soon, we're heading to Komatipoort so I'm rushing through today's posts.  I have a dentist appointment and we have to do our usual grocery shopping.  When dining out a few nights a week and time marching on until our departure, we're purchasing fewer groceries than we had a few months ago.

We have plenty of meat (beef, chicken, pork, and fish) left in the big freezer which we're attempting to go through now until we purchase any more.  With many social plans over the holidays, we'll be dining out often and won't be cooking many big meals for now.

Tonight, we're meeting Rita and Gerhard at Ngwenya for early evening river viewing and the buffet dinner indoors.  We'll see how the insect situation is on the veranda as the evening wears on.  We may be going inside to dine earlier than usual if we're bombarded with these insects again.

That's it for today folks.  We had some interesting wildlife events in the past few days which we'll share in tomorrow's post when we have a little more time.  Right now, as more and more holidaymakers arrive in the bush, we've yet to see a single visitor this morning.  This could be our fate over the next three to four weeks as more and more tourists filter in.

Have a pleasant day and night wherever you may be, hopefully, free of pests buzzing about your head!

___________________________________________


Photo from one year ago today, December 13, 2017:

As we approached Cape Horn in South America on the cruise, one year ago today.  For more, please click here.

Yet another shocking first!...What's going on?...


We knew we had to be very cautious not only for our safety but for his as well.  If we startled him or told him to get down, he could have broken a leg on the slippery tiles.  Instead, we tossed pellets on the ground near the bottom of the steps.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
Zebras are full of expression and seem to pose for the camera.
So far, we've had two bales of lucerne delivered and today we arranged for more over the next month.  Each was gone in a matter of hours.  At a cost of ZAR 145 ($10.13), it's not as if we plan to order one each day.  The cost would be prohibitive based the fact we're already buying many bags of pellets each week and huge bags of carrots and apples.
We were busy working on our laptops and didn't realize what was happening until we saw this zebra climbing up the veranda steps.
I must admit I have developed calluses on my right hand from the way I hold the big kitchen knife when each day I cut many carrots and apples into small bite-sized pieces.

When I first starting cutting the produce, and we were visited by many small bushbucks and duikers, and now many youngsters, I realized the pieces had to be small enough for the smaller animals to avoid choking.  They are so hungry, they devour what's in front of them not considering if a piece of fruit or veg is too big to handle.  
We didn't have any food, pellets or lucerne on the veranda.  What inspired him to climb up the slippery tile steps baffles us.  We did nothing to encourage this.
With small pieces, everyone can enjoy them, although animals such as zebras are known to eat an entire whole carrot.  However, we don't offer them that way.  We try to spread what we have among all of the visitors considering their safety, health, and well-being.
We didn't think it was a familiarity situation since we don't see zebras more than a few times a week.
As mentioned in yesterday's post (please check it out to see some cute photos) regarding our decision to provide some lucerne along with the pellets and produce, we can't possibly provide enough food for any one of the animal's daily needs during this dry season as they struggle to find nourishment.
Just like that, he was on the veranda.  The only reason we think this happened is due to the fact that many residents feed the zebras on their verandas.  This one doing so may have been a normal course of action.
Today, when I stopped at Daisy's Den while Tom was getting a haircut, owner Mark explained the lucerne was selling like crazy.  Many other residents, like us, are very concerned about the welfare of Marloth Park's wildlife.

And, although it's rained a few times in the past week, it's nowhere near enough to make a difference at this point.  So much more is needed and the prospects over the next week don't look too good based on the weather report.
We gave him time to fulfill his curiosity, talking softly and with confidence.
Keeping in mind these stressful and trying time for the wildlife, it's not surprising that both "Little" (warthog) and the zebra have climbed the steps to the veranda.  They see us tossing food out to them and when we took a break, they came looking.  Smart animals.

Fortunately, we know better than to overreact during these situations.  Staying back, giving them space and talking in soft gentle tones, appears to keep them feeling calm and unthreatened.  A single nudge from a warthog or kick from a zebra could be life-threatening and we don't take that risk lightly.
It was definitely a shock to see him on the veranda but we appreciated the photo op!
And regardless of how familiar we may have become with many of the magnificent animals, we always remember these are wild animals, not pets.  Never once, have either of us attempted to "pet" or touch them, nor will we.
He looked around for food.  When he didn't find any and heard the pellets being tossed to the ground beyond the steps, he gingerly lumbered down the steps.
Even Frank and The Mrs., our resident francolin (bird) couple can be feisty when we've seen them go after warthogs and kudus when they feel the birdseed we toss is threatened.  We take nothing for granted.
He let out a loud whinny and took off for the pellets we tendered at the bottom of the steps.  It was quite a nice visit, one we'll always remember.
We're especially careful around the horned antelopes including Big Daddies (kudus with massive horns) and Willie, our resident wildebeest.  We easily see how they use those horns to make their presence known.  The male kudus often tap the ground with their massive horns to let whoever is in their way know they are fierce and dangerous.  We've never fed them by hand!
The baby wasn't interested in eating solid food quite yet avoiding the lucerne and the pellets.
Actually, the only animals we feel safe getting real close to are the female bushbucks (no horns) who get scared away each time they try to eat when other animals are around.  The girls and the duikers (who are very skittish) are often left behind.
She stood off to the side while the adults devoured the lucerne.
As a result, we often stand next to the female bushbucks protecting them while they eat.  Many are nursing moms and they too need lots of nourishment along with all the others.
Mark, the owner of Daisy's Den explained, "Once the zebras show up, they'll eat until the lucerne if gone."  That's exactly what they did.
Last night we had an enjoyable evening when Rita and Gerhard came for dinner.  We made an entirely low carb, high fat, moderate protein meal which they both seemed to enjoy.  We all cleaned our plates leaving nothing behind while the conversation, as always was lively and entertaining.
Mom stopped eating so the baby could suckle.
We're staying in tonight.  The weather is warming up again after a few day reprieve.  Our aircon in the bedroom has been repaired and we're set to take it on.  Summer in Africa is hot, hot, hot!

Be safe.  Be happy.
___________________________________________

Photo from one year ago today, December 12, 2017:
The giant Sentados Frente del Mar statue in Puerto Montt, Chile is often criticized for its unattractiveness.  We found it to be humorous and charming.  Note the size of the statue by comparing me standing at her feet.  For more photos, please click here.