Malaria risks......Big Boy is back!...The excitement continues...We can't get enough!...

Three-for-One....on the Crocodile River; a White Fronted Plover, a female impala, and a male waterbuck.  We'd wish it had been a sunny day for this shot but cloudy days can mean more rain and rain is desperately needed.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
A vervet monkey sitting atop a lion statue in the yard of a house.
No, we won't be spending this entire next 12 months in Africa sitting on the veranda waiting for visitors and posting photos of the same species over and over again.  We have many exciting plans on the horizon.

Big Boy is easily twice the size of this other adult male warthog.  We're assuming this may be the same "Big Boy" we saw four years ago as shown at this link.  Warthogs have a lifespan of 18 years.  Once males mate, they don't hang out with females nor are involved in the care of their offspring.  However, who knows, perhaps another male with whom they wander and graze, may, in fact, be an offspring.
But, after the last few months having sailed on two major cruises (30-nights and 17-nights) and spending 33-nights in Buenos Aires, we're both thoroughly enjoying this time doing exactly what we feel like doing...relishing the quiet, the never-ending stream of "visitors" and time with our friends in Marloth Park.
Part of the joys of traveling the world is spending time, just like all of you, settling into a comfortable and pleasurable routine with little requirements of our time.  We can go out.  We can stay in, sitting the veranda.  Our time is our own.

"A face only a mother could love," and yet I find them so adorable with their quirky personalities.
In Marloth Park and in much of South Africa, it's often hot, humid with plenty of mozzies and other insects.  We're having to reapply insect repellent several times a day especially during this second stay in South Africa, we aren't taking malaria pills. 

The high-risk malaria season is ending in March or April, depending on the rains. It made no sense to be taking the pills for over a year where there are side effects and hazards in doing so over the long haul. 

Up the steps he goes, to see what we've got in the way of pellets!
Taking the risk of getting malaria or taking the risk of possible side effects from taking the medication for an extended period was a toss-up.  With a diligent repellent application, primarily with DEET, the only sure-fire ingredient, there's another round of risks.

Warthogs tend to eat on their knees due to their long legs and short necks, making foraging for food easier.  They have special knee pads that make this possible.
We didn't take these considerations lightly.  After speaking to several of our local friends, we opted to do what they do...stay protected with strong repellent and don't kid ourselves that "natural' repellents are strong enough to prevent bites.  We know this from past experience after trying several natural repellents and yet, we still got bit, Tom, less than me.

"Whew," says Big Boy.  "I need a rest after eating all those pellets."  He has to comfortably position his head with those razor-sharp tusks, used for digging up roots and for his personal defense.  Warthogs aren't naturally aggressive but will defend themselves vigorously if need be.  Females will become very aggressive in defending their young.
Plus, taking malaria pills is no guaranty one won't contract malaria.  They aren't 100% effective.  Many tourists coming to Africa for a few weeks begin taking the pills a week or two before they arrive, during their stay and a few weeks after they leave the area.  Generally, this provides good protection.

After about 20 minutes Big Boy perked up and was ready to continue his day with his male friend, who hung around waiting for him while he napped.
But, our circumstances are different.  After considerable research and in speaking with our friends here in Marloth, we feel comfortable with our decision not to take the pills with a few adaptations.

Roadside shop with potatoes, onions, and miscellaneous items.
One means of reducing the risk of mosquito bites is the removal of these "tire chairs," from our close proximity as shown in the photo below.  These tires can easily hold water where mosquitoes can lay their eggs.  Yesterday, after it rained, Tom tipped them all over to remove the water.  Today, when our pool and groundskeeper Josiah arrives, we're asking him to move these chairs in a distant area in the yard,
Visitors checking the ground for pellets near the "tire" chairs.
As pointed out on Saturday night by our friend Don and longtime resident of Marloth Park, these tire chairs could easily provide an ideal hiding place for a deadly black mamba.  Last time we were here, four years ago, Don told us a terrifying story about finding a black mamba in his storage room. 

Don escaped unharmed but it was an incident he'll never forget and a story we easily remembered after hearing it so long ago.  One can't ever be too careful in ensuring their safety from potential risks in certain environments and there's little room for foolhardiness.

This is the bush house we first rented when we arrived in Marloth in December 2013.  We prefer the house we're in now due to it's easier view of the yard while indoors (for checking on visitors). However, we're spending every hour of the day outside as we'd done at that property.
The weekend was spectacular for both human and wildlife visitors.  At one point on Sunday, we had eight large animals in front of us.  We have no doubt as they become used to our presence, we'll see more and more.

Today, we're finalizing a few details for my upcoming birthday party at Jabula tomorrow night.  We can't wait to share photos from the party and also of the most unusual birthday cake which is being prepared by the "cake lady" here in Marloth Park. 

Life is good, even better than we'd expected.  We hope yours is as well!

Photo from one year ago today, February 19, 2017:
Huon River from the highway in Tasmania.  We were nearing the end of our six-week stay.  For more, please click here.

Unbelievable sighting in our yard...You must see this!...Look below!...Fabulous evening with friends...

Please take a moment to watch our video of mongoose visitors in our yard last night!

"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
Finally, my favorite, warthogs, stopped by for a lengthy visit.  More on this tomorrow.
I don't know where to begin first, the outrageous sighting in the yard shortly after our friends arrived for dinner, a stunning sighting for all of us or, the exceptional evening we spent with four of our friends.
Ken, Tom and Don making big faces for the camera!

Linda, me and Kathy.  It was these two thoughtful friends that took me to lunch on my birthday, four years ago.  Now, we'll all be together again to celebrate my 70th.  Wow!

During the day we had no less than eight visitors all at once from three different species that sent us into a tailspin of pure delight. That event in itself was beyond our wildest dream, this early in our stay. We'll share those photos tomorrow.

At first, we only saw a few of the mongooses but the rest were on their way into the yard.
We only arrived a week ago today and yet we've seen every species that resides in the Conservancy and beginning next week, we'll head to Kruger National Park hoping to once again see the Big Five; lion, elephant, cape buffalo, rhino, and leopard.

Our guests arrived promptly at 6:00 pm and we were ready for our guests.  When we'd made the invitation to the four of them for dinner, we realized we had enough food on hand for the meal without the necessity of heading to the market.
"Mongoose is the popular English name for 29 of the 34 species in the 14 genera of the family Herpestidae, which are small feliform carnivorans native to southern Eurasia and mainland Africa. The other five species (all African) in the family are the four kusimanses in the genus Crossarchus, and the only species in the genus SuricataSuricata suricatta, commonly called meerkat in English."
We made the following (all the meats were cooked on the grill):
1.  Pork Chops
2.  Lamb Chops
3.  Boerewors (sausages) - "The many varieties of boerewors include specialties such as garlic wors, kameeldoring (camel thorn), Karoowors (sausage from the Karoo region in South Africa), and spekwors (made with extra cubed pork fat). Other ingredients include cheese and chili peppers."
4. Cauliflower Mash
5. Pureed Pumpkin
6. Sauteed onions, garlic and portabella mushroom (to top the seasoned meat)
7. Cabbage Salad
Suddenly a baby was on the scene.
We'd purchased beer and wine but they insisted on bringing their own beverages, a tradition when visiting guests in the bush.  We had purchased a lighter red wine for me with less alcohol and tannins which have a tendency to keep me awake at night after a few glasses.  It wasn't as good as a regular Cabernet or Merlot but I drank it anyway.  Tom had Castle Beer, manufactured in South Africa and a local favorite.
Mongooses love raw eggs.  When we spotted them, Tom ran inside bringing out an 18 pack of fresh eggs.  He laid one on the ground and this is what happened.
Although we'd seen Linda and Ken in Sydney 11 months ago, we hadn't seen Kathy and Don in four years.  It was Kathy and Don who'd invited us for Christmas Eve when they'd never met us.  We'd met their mutual friends, Lynne and Mick at Jabula Lodge a few days prior to Christmas and they hooked us up.
During the period of time they were in our yard, Tom placed four eggs on the ground for them to quickly fight for and devour.  It was quite a scene.
Lynne and Mick were leaving Marloth for the holidays but wanted to make sure we had something wonderful to do on Christmas Eve.  And indeed we did, spending the evening at Kathy and Don's beautiful bush house bordering the Crocodile River.  Here's the link to that story.

To know that soon we'll all be together again (also with other dear friends) at my birthday party in two days fills my heart with so much joy and love.  How did we get so lucky? 
Once the rest of them realized we had eggs, they piled atop one another.
The evening flowed with considerable ease when we'd prepared all but the meat in advance.  I heated the side dishes in the microwave and then popped them in the preheated oven.  With the homemade dressing ready to go I tossed the salad. 
"Mongooses live in southern AsiaAfrica, and southern Europe, as well as FijiPuerto Rico, and some in the Caribbean and Hawaiian islands, where they are an introduced species. The 34 species range from 24 to 58 cm (9.4 to 22.8 in) in length, excluding the tail. Mongooses range in weight from the common dwarf mongoose, at 320 g (11 oz), to the cat-sized white-tailed mongoose, at 5 kg (11 lb)."
Tom, Don, and Ken fussed over the grill and by 8:00 pm we were all seated at the outdoor table, meats cooked to perfection and we dug in for a hearty meal (minus gluten, grains, starch and sugar).  No one even noticed we didn't have rice, potatoes or bread. 

The lively conversation continued through the delightful evening.  We all have so much in common in our love for Marloth Park, traveling and being engaged in lively and exciting times at this point in our lives.
In a split second, they were all over the eggs.  See our above video for details.  "Mongooses mostly feed on insectscrabsearthwormslizardsbirds, and rodents. However, they also eat eggs and carrion. The Indian gray mongoose and others are well known for their ability to fight and kill venomous snakes, particularly cobras. They are adept at such tasks due to their agility, thick coats, and specialized acetylcholine receptors that render them resistant or immune to snake venom.  However, they typically avoid the cobra and have no particular affinity for consuming its meat."
So yesterday, enriched by our friend's visit and the many wildlife "visitors" it was quite a special day.  Enjoy our photos and please take a moment to watch the video.  You won't be disappointed!

Be well.  Be happy.
Photo from one year ago today, February 18, 2017:
Although overcast in the Huon Valley Tom had a great day fishing and taking photos while boating with Anne and Rob.  For more photos, please click here.

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?...New, or shall we say, returning special feature?...

With a lack of rain, there was little water in the Crocodile River.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
We love Hornbills.  "The hornbills are a family of bird found in tropical and subtropical Africa, Asia and Melanesia. They are characterized by a long, down-curved bill which is frequently brightly colored and sometimes has a casque on the upper mandible."
Note:  Today, we're beginning a "Sighting of the Day in the Bush" feature which we'll continue during our time in Africa.  We hope our readers will enjoy this feature which we've presented similarly in certain past locations. 

The first zebra we spotted in the park.  We've seen several more since taking this photo a few days ago!
This is the first dinner party we've had since Fairlight, Australia when we invited our dear landlord Bob and another couple we'd met who was also staying in his properties.

A baby zebra, most likely approximately four to five months old.  Zebras weigh from 30 kg to 35 kg (66 to 77 pounds) at birth. 
With friends Kathy and Don and Linda and Ken returning to Marloth Park yesterday we could hardly wait another day to see them all once again.  We haven't seen Kathy and Don since we were here four years ago.

As for Linda and Ken, we met up with them for lunch in Sydney, Australia and had a spectacular time together.  Please click here to see the post about our get-together.

"Ossicones are horn-like (or antler-like) protuberances on the heads of giraffes, male okapis, and their extinct relatives, such as Sivatherium, and the climacoceratids, such as Climacoceras. The base that a deer's antlers grow from is very similar to an ossicone."
We've stayed in close touch through Facebook, Messenger, and email, never losing touch with any of our South African friends during the past four years after leaving on February 28, 2014. 

In a way, it feels as if it was a lifetime ago we were in Marloth Park.  But now, as we've settled in, it seems as if it was only a short time ago.  Lathering up in repellent several times a day, sweating in the high temperatures and humidity, batting off the mozzies while living every moment to the fullest is not hard to forget.

Giraffes lay down to rest but rarely sleep for more than five minutes at a time.
Yesterday, after we uploaded the post, we drove for two hours in Marloth Park searching for wildlife.  During the first hour we didn't see much and what we did see was too far away for good photos.

During the second hour, everything changed, which is typical when on safari.  You search and search often coming up empty-handed and suddenly there they are, one after another.

A male giraffe can weigh  1200 kg (2646 pounds) while a female may weigh 830 kg (1830 pounds).
I should mention that when we refer to "safari" we're always referring to "photo safari."  At no point would we ever participate in shooting wildlife for sport or trophy.  Thus, going forward we'll simply say "safari" here, always referring to photos safari unless stated otherwise in regard to the senseless slaughter of endangered animals. 

With dwindling populations of most animals in Africa and the toll poaching is taking on nearly extinct wildlife it makes no sense to kill any for sport or profit.  But, I won't get into that here.  Our readers know how we feel about this controversial topic.

No words can describe how excited we were to see these giraffes. Not wanting to disturbs them we stayed on the road, taking photos from afar.
Much to the delight of all of us here in Marloth Park, its been raining off and on since yesterday afternoon.  This provides much relief for the wildlife who so desperately need to eat the greening vegetation. 

Right now, it's nearing the end of summer.  The green vegetation will begin to wane in the fall season commencing on March 21st and throughout the following cooler winter months. The wildlife will be on its own trying to find food.  It's a sad time for them and many don't survive the long winters.
Large ant hill with trees growing from it.
Today is a busy day, like few others, as we prepare for our six-person dinner party tonight.  What a unique and special experience for be entertaining in our "temporary" home, here in the bush in South Africa.

A vervet monkey sitting in a yard of a house as we passed.
The temperature today is currently 90F, 32C and the humidity is a bit uncomfortable after the rain.

May today bring you unique experiences!
Photo from one year ago today, February 17, 2017:
Tom was proud of their big catch, all flatheads when he went fishing with our landlords.  He had a great day!  For more3 details, please click here.

A little about Marloth Park... Fun with the locals...

Zeff was here with us four years ago.  It was wonderful to see him again. 
What is Marloth Park?  Over these past four years since we were last here, we've mentioned it more times than we care to count, over and over again, ad nauseam, perhaps at times to the disdain of our readers.  For this, we apologize and hope we haven't bored you.
But, this place is unlike any other in the world, a little developed, a lot natural.  Oh, some may say this is like "Disneyland in the bush" but that's far from the truth. 
Our first male kudu visitor.
Marloth Park is adjacent to Kruger National Park, that this 3000 hectare (11.5 square miles), developed as a town in 1972, became a holiday haven for wildlife enthusiasts who wanted to experience living in the bush (bushveld in Afrikaans, the local language), being able to interact ever so gently with the many animals that have naturally habituated this area.
We've heard that 4000 lots had been divided over the years and there are varying opinions on how many houses have actually been built in these past 46 years. Our host, Danie, a builder presumes there are about 2300 houses in Marloth Park.
Mr. Kudu certainly enjoyed his share of pellets, after he finished off everything we'd left on the dirt driveway.  Once he left, we restocked.
Other than the houses in the area and a few minimal-offering shops and a petrol station, Marloth Park remains pristine in its attempt to maintain a less touristy-feeling environment while providing its homeowners and visitors with a life-changing experience.
Sure, we could find a home in the savannah, somewhere in the bush in Africa where wildlife roamed about the house. In that case, we wouldn't have the ease of living all of us expect in our day to day lives; electricity; air con for sleeping; Wi-Fi, running water, sewer systems, garbage pickup and all those amenities many of us have come to anticipate as a part of everyday life.
What a muscular animal!
We're not 20 years old, hauling a backpack and sleeping in a tent for the rich experience one of this age might find enticing in their pursuit of personal growth.
However, even in our age group, we reap the benefits offered by this stunning environment, of peacefulness, wonder and the sheer joy of our surroundings and yet have all of the above conveniences we've come to expect and maybe at our ages, need to be comfortable to some degree.
This adult female bushbuck stops by several times a day.
Oh, don't get me wrong, it's not a piece of cake living here.  It's a half hour drive to a supermarket or pharmacy. And if one needs emergency medical care it's still that same 30-minute drive which would be a matter of life or death in the event of a bite from a black mamba (snake) even we had seen in these parts only four years ago (and most likely will see again).
It's hot and humid most of the time.  There are insects like none others we've seen anywhere in the world.  The power goes out more often than in most places, often due to careless tourists failing to be mindful as to the size of the limited power grid in this area. 
While at the shopping center yesterday, these students were cheering and singing after a fabulous photo safari in  Kruger Park as part of a school project.
And, the mozzies come out at dusk bringing with them a rash of dangerous diseases.  This time we aren't taking malaria pills.  None of our friends take them that live here off and on throughout the year.  

The possible fourteen months we'll be in Africa is just too long to be taking the drugs.  Instead, we're using repellent day and night with a maximum of 35% DEET which has been determined to be safe.
When this pretty young lady spotted us with a camera, she asked if we'd take her photo.  When we handed her a card with our web address, she was thrilled for us to post her photo.  Her name is Sonto Zwene.  We hope she has an opportunity to see herself here. What a lovely girl!
The staff in Marloth Park come from many surrounding areas. Many arrive each day by bus or sharing the   Rarely do any of them live in the park, the exception is those who may be live-in support staff.  Even Martha, our full-time housekeeper who lives in a little house on the property, frequently leaves the area to visit family and friends.  

These kindly, warm and friendly people definitely enhance the quality of our experiences living in Marloth Park.  A warm hug is as common as a hearty hello and although most speak Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu, many speak English sufficient enough for us to easily communicate.
More Helmeted Guinea Fowl. We love these turkey-like birds with the colorful heads.
Yesterday, we drove to Komatipoort for the second time since our arrival to find a few groceries items we hadn't been able to find the first time.  Also, we replaced the HDMI cord but we're still having trouble with the signal from my laptop to the TV.  We'll work on this later today.

While in town, we stopped at a pharmacy to discover I won't need to order refills of my few prescriptions from afar.  They carry each of my three meds, over-the-counter, without a new prescription, making the process convenient.
"The greater kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) is a woodland antelope found throughout eastern and southern Africa. Despite occupying such widespread territory, they are sparsely populated in most areas, due to a declining habitat, deforestation, and poaching. The greater kudu is one of two species commonly known as kudu, the other being the lesser kudu."
Yesterday the temperature was a high of 100F (38C).  In the evening after our delicious dinner, we stayed indoors.  The two air con units in the high vaulted ceiling living room weren't able to cool it down.  It was toasty but we managed. Today, it's partially cloudy and much cooler.

We've already had several visitors this morning and look forward to more as the day progresses.

Have a beautiful day! 

Photo from one year ago today, February 16, 2017:
Boats in the bay on the Huon River in Tasmania.  For more photos, please click here.

Party planning in the bush...More new exciting photos...Hot today!...

As the sun was waning during our evening drive...Sunsets in Africa seem to be the most spectacular we've seen in our travels.
The last time I planned a party was when we were about to leave Marloth Park on February 28, 2014.  It's customary when someone is leaving South Africa to host their own going-away party. 
As darkness began to fall, we squealed with delight when we had to slow down for this ostrich walking down the center of the road.  Could it have been Clive or Clove or one of her offspring from our four-year-ago visit?
We invited a small group for dinner shortly before we left.  The friends we'd made were in two groups, one related to our rental in one way or another and other friends we'd met along the way. 
We dared to get a little closer to take this shot through the windshield.  We didn't want to scare her away.
At one point or another, we'd had everyone over for dinner and now as we plan my birthday in five days, I realized we hadn't planned a party anywhere in the world since that time and this time, we're including both groups.  We're so excited.

Finally, she moved over so we could pass but we watched her in the rearview mirror, stay on the road for quite some time.  What a treat!
This morning, we ordered a regular birthday cake from Jannine (correct spelling), the Marloth Park "cake lady."  I'll bake a small coconut flour cake for me and we'll be able to celebrate eating cake together. 

I'm so excited to be celebrating this milestone birthday with these fine friends.  Turning 70 can be daunting but I'm looking at it like a celebration of life, love, friendship and the non-stop joy of experiencing the world each and every day of this unusual lifestyle we've chosen to live,
Mr. Kudu on the side of the road as we passed on the way to the little market in Marloth Park. Now, these stunning males are visiting us in the yard.  Photos will follow!
Last night we went to Jabula Restaurant & Lodge to see our old friends, Dawn and Leon, owners of the restaurant and had a fabulous time.  They'd set up beautiful outdoor tables with Valentine decorations, reserving one for us. 

After wine and beer at the bar, we took our table and chatted with a party of three sitting next to us.  After our exceptional dinner which including two red wines for me and four beers for Tom (little lushes we are when out, not at "home") our total bill including tip was US $47.82 (ZAR 586).
We spotted three wildebeests when we went for our evening drive in the park.
Of course, I ordered "my usual" (from four years ago) peri-peri chicken livers and a huge grilled Greek chicken salad.  Tom ordered barbecue ribs, chips (fries) and salad.  We couldn't have enjoyed it more.

Today, I'm busy cooking one of our favorite homemade recipes, the first full meal I will have prepared in 85 days.  We both longed for our favorite low carb dish, Chicken Pot Pie to which we'll add a green salad. 
A thought-provoking pose with a bot of vegetation in her mouth.
Although this seems like a cold-weather dish, when we spend most of our lives in warm or hot weather, we don't let the weather dictate what we'd like to eat.  This dish could definitely be classified as comfort food and most certainly we don't require much more comfort than we're feeling now, but it will be fun to sit down with this fine meal tonight.
Wildebeests are commonly seen in Marloth Park and neighboring Kruger National Park.
Once we're done posting today and I finish chopping and dicing we'll head back to Komatipoort to purchase a few more items we hadn't been able to find on Monday and hopefully find an HDMI cable.  Like many cables, eventually, they wear out as was the case with ours. 
Impalas are often referred to a "MacDonalds" when they are the chosen meal for many predators.
We're thrilled to be getting visitors several times a day, feeding them the nourishing pellets and talking to them in my usual high pitched voice. Hopefully, soon, some of the regulars will recognize my voice.  So far, no warthogs.  I wait patiently.

Today's high temperature is expected to be 97F (36C) and yet we still sit outdoors all day, sweating up a storm, content as we can be. 

Be content today and always!


Photo from one year ago today, February 15, 2017:
In the Huon Valley in Tasmania, we so enjoyed the fresh picked organic vegetables from owners Anne and Rob's garden.  For more photos, please click here.