We have wheels. Lots of "extra" charges and fees...local markets.. Losing a dear family member...

Early this morning, our dear our sister-in-law Lee Lyman, wife of Tom's brother Jerome, passed away in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA .  Although a vibrant 85 years old and a great-great grandmother, Lee gave so much of herself to her beloved husband, children, grandchildren and family.  We offer our heartfelt love, prayers and sympathy to Jerome and all who were blessed to love and know this fine woman.  She will be dearly missed.
 
On the way to Nelspruit with our driver Okee Dokee, she stopped to buy lychee nuts from this adorable girl, who was selling them on the side of the road with her mom.
Having just returned from shopping, we're late writing today's post but as promised we planned to post after we returned with the rental car.
 
Yesterday, our plan was to pick up the car, check out the town of Nelspruit, grocery shop, buy more data at the Vodacom store, and find a store in order to purchase white socks.  All we accomplished was sock purchase at a sporting goods store and a portion of the groceries.

By the time we drove away from the Mpumalanga/Neslpruit airport with the car in our possession, it was already 2:30 pm. We'd hope to get our errands done, have dinner at the popular Hamilton's Restaurant in Malelane and be back on the road before dark.  
There was captivating scenery along the way to Nelspruit but the heavy flow of traffic during the start of the weekend before Christmas prevented us from stopping.

Although there was no line (referred to as a queue outside the US) at the Budget location, considerable time was spent as the rep explained all of the "extra' charges over and above the basic car rental fee we'd prepaid online of ZAR $5300, US $519.47.

Notice the scowl on Tom's face as he's opening the door to the driver's side on the pink rental car.
Renting a vehicle for a week or two is no big deal.  Renting a vehicle for over two months is tricky since the rental car companies don't want to honor the great online rates from outside travel sites beyond a 28 day period.  

If yesterday, when picking up the car, we'd chosen to extend the rental beyond the 28 day period, the cost per day would have jumped from ZAR $189.26 US $18.55 to ZAR $310, US $30.38!   With a total of 41 days remaining until we go back to the airport to fly to Morocco on February 28, 2014, the additional cost would be ZAR $12,710, US $1,245.70. 

Getting another rental car at another great online rate is an option but the taxi fare with tip is ZAR $950, US $93.12 plus it takes a half day of time with the long drive each way.
On the return drive from Nelspruit this sky caught our eye.
On top of all of that...Budget withheld an additional ZAR $11,733, US $1150 for damage and other miscellaneous against the credit card we used which annoys us.

On top of all of that...much to Tom's dismay the car turned over to us, the only car available, was PINK!  Yep.  Pink.

After using today it to finish our uncompleted errands from yesterday, we both decided the pink wasn't so bad after all.  We quickly moved through the Marloth Park security gate with a breeze the second time and, it was easy to spot it in the busy parking lot when we did the errands today in Komatipoort.

On Friday afternoon, we decided to only partially grocery shop, finishing today to allow us time to get to the restaurant, have dinner and get back on the road. After one of the best dinners we've had in a restaurant, it was worth the monkeying around.  
Must be a free range chicken walking around the restaurant.
Although a 40 minute drive to Hamilton's in Malelane from our home in Marloth Park, we'll definitely return to Hamilton's again.  Check out the photos of our fabulous dinner. With one beer for Tom and bottle water for me, plus tax, plus tip, our entire dinner was a paltry ZAR $274, US $26.86!
My dinner was a moist and tender filet with a side of seasoned butter, small salad and stir fried veggies.  We look forward to returning to Hamilton's soon.
This morning, we decided to finish our errands taking off in the pink car down our long driveway to be delighted to find three male kudus munching treetops in our yard.  Wow!  What a way to start the day!

Marloth Park has a few small strip mall-type shopping areas.  Before heading to Komatipoort, a 25 minutes drive to the closest large grocery store in the area, we thought it a good idea to  check out the Marloth Park shops, as we're always interested in supporting local businesses.  
Tom enjoyed his tender sirloin steak with mushroom sauce, stir fried veggies and fries.
Although the tiny local grocery store didn't carry many items we normally purchase, we knew we'd use it on occasion for staples.  But, the separate little meat market was perfect for us, with grass fed meat at unbelievable prices, for example a 680 gram, 1.5 pounds, Filet Mignon for Christmas Eve was a mere ZAR $110, US $10.71!  We purchased enough meat to get us through another week.
The butcher store where we purchased all of next weeks meats.
The Farmer's Market with fresh picked, organic produce is a dream come true. This will serve all of our vegetable needs going forward.  With both a meat store and produce store next door to one another, we can avoid going to the larger Komatipoort grocery store more than once every few weeks.  

We'd rather spend our time exploring than shopping.  We returned home to put the meat and produce away and took off to Komatipoort to finish. We purchased more data, finished the grocery shopping, found the local "chemist" to purchase contact lens solution, got Tom a few more bottles of brandy and returned home to find our veranda a mess.

The baboons had visited while we were gone, taking three cushions off of the outdoor furniture with them.  When it cools down, we'll wander around the yard to see if we can find them.  Plus, they pooped on the veranda after literally moving around the heavy Adirondack chairs. 
The cozy storefront Farmer's Market.
 
The interior of the local Farmer's Market with organic produce arriving from the farm regularly.
None of the other animals have bothered or damaged anything thus far.  But Louise and Dani warned us to expect this.  We're surprised it took this long before they wreaked havoc.
The small grocery store in Marloth Park has basic food supplies.
The tadpoles are still swimming around in the pool, although still not visible to the naked eye.  After reading at length about tadpoles, I am concerned they may not survive due to the chlorine that was already in the pool when the eggs dropped.  Apparently, any type of chemical will prevent the life cycle. We'll keep you updated.

Soon, we'll dress for dining at Jabula tonight, another of our favorite dining establishments.  On our way, we plan to stop at the Crocodile River overlook for happy hour.  Tomorrow afternoon, we're going on yet another Kruger Park game drive and bush dinner with a group of nine.  
The chair cushion we found in the driveway, apparently taken by the baboons while we 
were out shopping.


Gee...we're so busy in Marloth Park!  Living in the bush warrants "never missing a thing!"

Have a festive pre-Christmas weekend.  We plan to do the same and...we'll be back tomorrow with more photos from our visit to the Crocodile River!

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