Made it to Cairo after a red eye...We're more than halfway....

Being able to sleep on a plane is a fruitless expectation.  Realizing we had an almost four hour layover in Cairo and then another nine hours of travel time, we decided to request an upgrade to business class.  (Many international flight don't have first class, only business class which was the case on Egyptair).

When we booked the flight, selecting business class almost tripled the fare.  Last night, we were able to upgrade for both of us for a total of US $894.27, ZAR $10000.  Need I say it was worth it, except we weren't able to sit together which we'd agreed in advance would be acceptable. In this case, it was  sleep we needed more than each other's companionship.

On a wait list, we were called a half hour before takeoff that two separate seats were available in business class and we jumped all over it, paying the additional fees at the gate.  By 9:30 pm we were both seated in the same row of six across, in an aisle seat, two center seats between us.

Having had omelets for dinner less than an hour earlier I refused the offered meal.  I wasn't about to pick over a meal that wouldn't be acceptable to my way of eating, nor was I hungry.  I never eat when I'm not hungry. 

The offered meal was laden with breads and rolls so I was fine that I'd refused.  The flight attendant seemed worried that I didn't eat, showing me several options.  Graciously, I declined.

When booking the flights there were no options available befitting my way of eating.  Thus, I made no meal selection, comfortable that we could eat in a restaurant during one of the multiple layovers.  Usually, there is a grilled chicken salad or an omelet that works.

Sleeping?  Ah, not so much.  With two stiff paper wrapped pillows and a fly-off-the-bed synthetic blanket, even reclining as far back as the seat would go, I couldn't find a comfortable spot. 

Instead, I dozed off and on often, interrupted by the bright lights in the crew galley area when they moved the curtain aside to attend to the other passengers as they swished down the narrow aisles.

After dozing for a half hour I awoke to the sound of voices.  A large man in the seat behind me was standing directly next to me as the crew worked on his broken seat that wouldn't recline.  He stood within inches of me for over an hour. 

Annoyed, I decided to read a book on my phone as a distraction. At one point, I dozed off, the phone still in my hand which often occurs when I read in bed.  Suddenly, the crew working on his chair accidentally hit the back of my chair startling me awake.  My hand flew and along with it my phone went flying through the air, landing somewhere near the feet of the woman sitting next to me who spoke no English and was sound asleep.

There was nothing that could be done at that time to retrieve the phone.  Later, after the 4:00 am breakfast was served (again, I didn't eat, never thinking of food at 4:00 am), the kind flight attendant helped me look for the phone which she found under the woman's seat.  Relief! 

I stayed awake reading for the remainder of the flight, unable to fall back to sleep.  Overall, I believe I slept three hours, which although not enough, would help me manage through the rest of the trip.  Tom slept about the same amount of time, often awakening and looking over at me to see if I was OK.  I was. 

We wore our compression socks during the long flight and will do so again when we board in a few hours for the upcoming six hour flight.  With free WiFi throughout the Cairo airport, I am able to write this now.

I'd like to include photos but, out of respect for the crowd looming around the airport I chose not to.  When we arrive in Marrakesh, we'll be taking plenty of photos of a man with a wooden cart who'll be waiting for us, hauling our luggage through the narrow streets where motorized vehicles aren't allowed, as we all make the hike to our new home.

If we have a signal in Casablanca we'll stop back with an update. 

Stay tuned...

We're in Johannesburg at the airport...so far so good...three more flights to go...


Our last sunset in South Africa taken through the scratched glass on the window of
the plane
Much to our surprise, it's been seamless so far; trip from Marloth to Mpumalanga; flight to Johannesburg; immigration; two security checks so far.  Palming a tip into a handshake enabled us to avoid excess baggage fees.  Apparently, we were over more than we'd expected. 

In an hour, at 9:00 pm, we'll board the red eye to Cairo, then another flight to  Casablanca, then on to the final flight to Marrakesh, Morocco.  Then a drive from the airport to our new home,  Riad Dar Aicha.
And then, the sun peeked out a little more a few seconds later. There's something special
about sunsets in Africa.
No doubt, we'll be exhausted but a safe arrival is foremost in our minds.  Cairo is not the safest. place in the world at this time and we'll be there for almost four hours.

At the moment we're in a pleasant restaurant at the airport not too far from our gate.  Omelets were the most sensible meal considering we'll be sitting in the plane for eight hours.

It's almost time to board our flight.  We requested an upgrade to business class but it was full.  We're on a waitlist with two ahead of us.  Unlikely will be upgraded, but it was worth a try.

We'll be back when we arrive in Cairo as soon as we find an Internet cafĂ©.  (Our remaining South Africa data will be useless once we leave the country).

Stay tuned, folks!

Almost ready to go...The final expenses for our time in South Africa...Many visitors came to say goodbye!

Yesterday afternoon, two Kudus came to call.  Standing by the braai, he nibbled on
the leaves of a tree.
All we have left to do is to pack the clothing we're wearing now and close our bags.  Our boarding passes are printed. 
Such a handsome guy.

Then there were two, after we'd placed a few of our dwindling pellets on the stone.
The flight from Mpumalanga/Nelspruit to Johannesburg, South Africa has tighter luggage restrictions than our remaining flights but, we are close to complying for all of the flights. 
On the way to the Crocodile River, we saw this baby Zebra nursing from its mom.  It looks as if the mom is pregnant again.  Hummm...does this dispel the thought that nursing moms can't become pregnant?  Or was this a surrogate mom?
Yesterday was a very special day.  Two Mrs. Warthogs and babies visited us at African Reunion House.  Mr. Tree Frog left us last night, returning this morning.  And, in the early afternoon, two male Kudus came to call as shown in this precious photos.

Okee Dokee picked us up for one final visit to the Crocodile River.  On the way, she stopped to speak to a passing motorist. In Afrikaans, he told her there many Elephants on the river and to hurry. She translated for us and off we went.  Safari luck. 

As we approached the Crocodile River lookout, we spotted only a few of the Elephants we saw moment later when we moved to a better viewing spot.

The Elephants were on the move when something startled them and when they spotted the Rhino on a mad run heading toward them.
Arriving at the river, my breath caught in my throat when we saw dozens of Elephants and babies in a large herd.  It was hard to believe.  As I began taking photos, Okee Dokee spotted a Rhino running at full speed toward the Elephants.  In a matter of seconds, the Elephants made a mad dash up the hill of the riverbank leaving dust in their wake.  
There were many more than is shown here, off to the sides.
Rhinos and Elephants have little risk from predators but on a rare occasion they may get into a scuffle.  Something frightened all of them and they ran for their lives.  We'll never know what transpired. But, getting these photos was pure luck, safari luck.  In a matter of minutes, they were gone with the exception of a few stranglers at a distance. 
If we'd arrived five minutes later, we'd never have seen them running.
After our last delicious dinner at Jabula Lodge while hanging out with Dawn and Leon, we returned home to find the five Zebra standing at the railing waiting for us.  How long had they been there? Would we have missed them if we'd stayed out 15 minutes longer or where they bound and determined to wait until we'd return.  We'll never know.
They left dust in their wake as they ran to safety.
Feeding them our remaining supply of pellets from our hands, my heart did a flip flop, aching when they finally wandered off. This morning our favorite walking bird, the Frankolin, padded around the veranda within feet of us.   We'll miss them all.

The Zebra family was back waiting for us!
As for our total living expenses in South Africa, including rent, groceries, entertainment, dining out, tips, airfare, transportation (including the rental car we had for one month) and SIM card and data fees, for a grand total of US $13,120.11, ZAR $146,713 which translates to US $4373.37, ZAR $48,904 for each of the three months we've spent in South Africa. 
It was wonderful to see them one more time.
With only a few hours until we walk out the door to begin the long drive to the airport, we're as well prepared as we can be.  Its time to "let go."  Having "let go" of so much in our lives over this past year and a half, this a familiar feeling, one we know we'll conquer in time.


We happily tossed a few of the remaining pellets their way.

Hopefully, during the upcoming 29 hours of travel time, we'll have access to an electrical source to charge our equipment, making it possible to document this lengthy journey along the way. 

So, we say goodbye and thank you to Marloth Park, to South Africa, to our friends, human and animal, only hoping that someday we'll return.  A special thank you to Louise and Danie who's kindness, consideration, generosity and love added so much to our comfort and enjoyment.

Over the coming years, as we continue on our worldwide journey, on many occasions we'll tell the story of our glorious experiences in South Africa, bringing tears to our eyes and gratitude to our hearts. 

But, for today, we continue on...

Thank you, Mr. Tree Frog for serving as the mascot for all the "small things" that brought us so much pleasure during our time in Marloth Park.  Even you, will be remembered.

 


Saying goodbye to all of our friends, human and animal...Saying goodbye to Marloth Park and South Africa...


Tangled necks!  Love it!


Yesterday, as we approached the 13 giraffes, we were all excited!


As they began to gather...


As they began to untangle...
By far, this is the most difficult of all of the goodbyes since leaving the US many moons ago. Tonight, will be our last night's dinner at Jabula Lodge. Okee Dokee will join us as our guest trying to squeeze out every last moment with her. Saying goodbye to her, to Zeff today, to Dawn and Leon tonight and to Louise and Danie tomorrow, won't be easy. 
Giraffes hogging the road. We happily waited for them to move.


"Oh, oh, I'd better get out of the way!"

 
At 4:00 pm today, Okee Dokee will pick us up to head to the Crocodile River one last time to say goodbye to the wildlife in Kruger National Park. 

Mr. Tree Frog sits on his perch in the rafters, returning for the sixth time in these past few weeks at African Reunion House, staring at us most of the day, occasionally closing his eyes for a nap. 
Clive, our friendly neighborhood Ostrich, was hanging out in the driveway of the same house where we'd first met him, almost three months ago.  He also visited us at the little house.

Life is simple for Clive as he wanders about, visiting houses, foraging for vegetation with a "bird's eye view" of the world.
At 4:00 am I awoke to the sound of him wildly croaking, simply being a frog.  If anything, my attachment to him is as if he were a representative for all the "small things" that have brought us so much joy in Marloth Park, let alone the "big things."
Our resident tree frog continues to watch us most days.  He ventures off this ledge in the ceiling of the veranda every few days for food and water, returning to this exact spot.  We've counted six return visits thus far.  How does one find it difficult to say goodbye to a frog? With the same childlike wonder we all possessed at one time, that freely comes to the surface when living in this wonderland.
Mrs. Warthog and babies stopped by several times yesterday as if she knows we're leaving soon.  We hope to see them one more time.

Giraffe at sunset.
The photos we're posting today were taken yesterday morning when Louise and Danie picked us up at the tented lodge.  Only a few blocks from African Reunion House, we were "gifted" with a few joy filled sightings; 13 giraffes near the road, "Clive," the ostrich and later in the day, two giraffes walking through the yard on a mission. 
These two were more interested in this tasty bush than us taking photos with flash as night fell.

I was on a Skype call with my sister and didn't take photos, instead describing every detail to her as they raced through the yard. (We don't always use video on Skype to keep data use under control, when talking to grownups).

Packed?  Almost done. Yesterday, I tossed out no less than 10 pounds, 4.5 kg of old worn clothing.  I think the weight of my bags will be OK.  It's funny how I now have little interest in clothing, shoes and accessories, only needing enough until the next wash cycle.

A few minutes ago, Tom asked me if I feel sad about leaving.  I do.  I know that once the guy meets us at the taxi stand (no cars allowed in the Medina) with the little wooden cart to wheel our luggage the 10 minute walk to our new home, Dar Aicha, in Marrakesh, Morocco, where we'll reside for the next two and a half months, I'll be smiling and once again taking photos.

See if you can find five giraffe heads popping up in the bush!
But, the memories of Marloth Park, Kruger Park and South Africa will linger in our hearts and minds forever, eternally grateful for the experience.  We've changed in many ways from our time in South Africa, and again in Kenya.  How we've changed has not been easy to describe.

We've become more tolerant of discomfort, more attune to our surroundings, more appreciative of the perfection that God created (or whatever or whomever you may believe as our maker) when He created us, His creatures and His vegetation, all which is magical in the manner in which it relates to our universe.

For only a second, he picked up his head out from this bush.



We've come to understand that the oldest human remains found on this planet were found in Africa, known as the "Cradle of Mankind."  The science and history are clear. It's no wonder to me that I've felt a powerful sensation of being "home" while in Africa. Perhaps, that infinitesimal aspect of our DNA explains this phenomenon for me.

I've come to better understand my way of eating while in Africa while watching the animals forage for what their bodies need.  Man/woman was intended to eat the available food in their environment, the hunter gatherer concept; meat and vegetation, the core of my daily diet. 

It's all here in Africa, the vast array of nuts growing wild and farmed, the free range chickens and resulting eggs, the grass fed meat and a plethora of vegetation befitting human consumption, easily grown in the chemical free fertile soil in a land that overall, abhors chemicals in food. 


Thus, dear readers, we continue on...on to our unknown future, less fearful, more accepting, more at peace than ever before.  We hope and pray for safe travel, however long and discomfited, to bring us to our next location, eyes wide open, full of wonder and grateful to be alive.

Note:  Tomorrow, before leaving for the airport in the early afternoon, we'll post the total of final expenses for the three months we've spent in South Africa.  As we travel to Morocco, we'll be posting at varying times, in real time, as to the progress on our 29 hour journey, while on four separate flights as we transverse the continent of Africa.



Close to our house, this giraffe was checking us out.  Unless a lion or leopard sneaks into Marloth Park (which happened a few times during our stay) there is little danger for most of the wildlife which primarily are herbivores.  Their natural instinct keeps them constantly on the lookout for predators.  Lions and leopards can take down a giraffe.

A night sleeping in a tent on the exciting Crocodile River...An unexpected sojourn..."safari luck" prevails once again...Six day old baby elephant!

Sunset over the Crocodile River to Kruger National Park.  The power lines have become a necessary addition to the tremendous amount of security and tourism, a mainstay of survival of this massive wildlife area.  This photo was taken from the veranda of our pleasing accommodations at the Crocodile Bridge Safari Camp where we slept in a tent last night.

Wow! This unbelievable ray of light captured our attention. Sunsets in Africa have
been out of this world!


The clouds opened after the rain and presented this view.
The thought of spending a night away from African Reunion House so close to leaving for Morocco, with the packing hanging over our heads, didn't appeal to us at first.  But, when Louise and Danie had taken the time to arrange this complimentary overnight stay for us in a tent at the Crocodile Bridge Safari Lodge, we could hardly refuse.
Although the walls of our accommodations had tent material  on three sides, it was made to appear as a cottage.  The veranda is on the opposite side within feet of the electrified fence to Kruger National Park, keeping tourists safe from the big game.  Allen and Scott showed us a video of elephants that had come directly up to the fence. 

We were impressed with this bed and quality sheets and covers. A longer night's sleep would have been possible if we weren't so anxious to go back outside early in the morning. (The white line running vertically through Tom is actually a pull string for the overhead light).
 

The communal dining, bar and entertainment areas.  Bed and breakfast options were available for a small additional fee.  We had perfect mushroom and onion omelets with "streaky" bacon this morning, a real treat!
In the first 15 minutes after unpacking our duffel bag, computer bag, and cloth bag filled with power cords, we knew we'd made the right decision.  Spending one of our three remaining nights in South Africa, situated on the shore of the wildlife rich Crocodile River while viewing the action in Kruger National Park is hard to beat. 
See the entire African Tulip Tree with more of these blossoms below.


Beautiful vegetation is abundant along the banks of the Crocodile River, some natural to the area, others imported over the years by foreign property owners.
Perhaps, in a way, our 19 hours at the camp is a perfect way to wind down our time in South Africa while sleeping in a tent with AC (which we didn't need to use), with a comfortable bed and an almost-outdoor shower. Add the divine pleasure of listening to the sounds of one of the largest natural bird sanctuaries in the world and the bubbling hum of the hippos only enhanced the richness of our experience.
Scott explained that last Tuesday over an extended period they heard the cries of this mother
elephant as she gave birth.  Over the next few days, they saw this baby.  By far, this was the
tiniest baby Elephant we've seen in all of our travels. 

Our camera doesn't have a powerful enough zoom for a clearer photo from this range with its 20X Zoom.  In the next few weeks, we'll be purchasing a new camera after testing Allen's  powerful and lightweight 50x Zoom. Most likely, we'll make the purchase and have it shipped to us while we're in Morocco.
Louise dropped us off at the Crocodile Bridge Safari Lodge late yesterday afternoon, on the absolutely hottest day we've experienced in South Africa.  The sky was rapidly shifting as ominous looking clouds wafted in.  We needed rain and we needed it fast to defray the scorching heat and uncomfortable humidity. 

So sweet.
The baby nursing.  Check out the gigantic size of the matriarch of this family in comparison to the younger females.  She may be the grandmother of the baby.  Females only give birth once every five years with a gestation period of 22 months.  The calf begins to nurse at birth and may continue to nurse for up to two years.


As shown there were two larger babies in the herd of six elephants.
Allen and Scott, the co-owners warmly greeted us and helped us get situated in the clean, comfortable tent which is more like a cabin than a tent with it own veranda situated well above the ground providing expansive views of the riverbank.
The varied bird species could keep an bird enthusiast busy for many days.
 
This appears to be the same bird as above with more fluffy grey feathers. Note the Eelephant
in the background of this photo. 


There were four of these colorful birds hanging out on the electrified fence, obviously not
triggered by their light weight. This is the White Fronted Bee Eater.
Although I was anxious to start taking photos, I was so hot and sweaty that I didn't know what to do with myself.  The thought of turning on the AC and sitting in the tent was hardly appealing.  After chatting with Allen and Scott, I put on my bathing suit  and Tom stripped off his shirt which seemed to help as we sat at the table and chairs on the veranda and diligently began to scan the river for signs of life. 
Cape Buffalo from afar.
Then, "safari luck" kicked in, as it often does as we spent the next few hours with our eyes glued to the riverbank as evidenced in these photos.  In no time at all the wind picked up and with it came a cool breeze and rain.  Relief.  It only rained for a short period leaving behind a cool evening which we spent at the communal lounge/kitchen area, a short walk from our tent with both owners and their lovely wives, Caron and Michelle.


The Crocodile Bridge Safari Lodge is intended to be self catered but, last night as their dinner guests they prepared a well rounded and delicious meal, paying special attention to my dietary needs. 

The evening flew by as the eight of us including another South Africa couple, Amy and Dudley, engaged in lively and animated conversation well into the evening.  What's with South African people being so kind and such fun?  We're grateful to have encountered this amazing level of warmth and hospitality over these past three months.

Hippos lined the river frequently making their pleasing sounds.
Awakening after a comfortable. albeit short night's sleep, to the sound of the hippos at 5:30 am, we could hardly wait to get outside.  The morning in Kruger National Park had begin.  As light filtered through the clouds, we could see the Crocodile Bridge at a short distance, where we had entered the park on numerous occasions over the past three months.

We were in fact amidst the wild animals lurking along the river's edge protected by an electrified fence as is common in areas where humans and wildlife intermingle.  South Africa and the park boards are diligent about avoiding life threatening injuries or death from attacks to humans from predatory animals in the wild. 

Tom's good eye spotted this lengthy Crocodile lounging on a sandbar.

The accommodations were more appealing than one might expect from a moderately priced tented camp.  All of the common hotel amenities were in place:  soaps, bottled water, ample fluffy white towels, quality bedding, a power strip for electronics and soft lighting for night reading. 

It is an ideal location for nature lovers, interested in river viewing, safari walks bush braais and game drives into Kruger National Park.  The close proximity to grocery shopping and restaurants made this an easy location. 

View toward the pool from the communal dining area.
The singing of numerous bird species was practically ear splitting at times, causing us to laugh.  Nature at its finest. We couldn't have enjoyed it more.

After our hosts served us a delicious hot breakfast, and after engaging in more interesting travel conversations (South Africans are well traveled), we were ready to return to African Reunion House to begin the looming task of packing for the next leg of our journey.

Our hosts explained that this little bird or one similar hangs out in this area on the grounds of the lodge on a regular basis.
Two days until we depart.  Two days remaining in what has been a heavenly experience.  Two days until another chapter in the lives of two crazy seniors who left everything behind to see the world.  Two days...then on to the rest of our lives, that after only 16 months, has only just begun...