Have I died and gone to heaven?...Hippo pool...Meet "Wart Face"...


We could watch for hours and rarely see more than a hippo taking a quick breath of air.  We were lucky to get this shot.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
We call him "Wart Face" who has the biggest warts of any warthog in Marloth Park and is known by many.  Most nights, he visits us after dark.  His mouth is like a vacuum hose sucking up pellets and only certain veggies.  No carrots for Wart Face!  Apples? Yes!
We apologize for the late posting.  We decided to go shopping in Komatipoort early in the day when it would be less crowded on a Friday.  The morning shopping worked well to our liking but, by the time we returned and put everything away, I'd yet to prepare the first word or photo. 
The long dirt path we walk to get to the river to the hippo pool.  We walk gingerly checking for snakes as we bat off the flies and other insects flying around our heads. 
What occurs in a mere 24 hours is often astounding to us.  Living in an environment such as this fairy-tale place is truly a breeding ground for one adventure after another.
Hippo viewing at this location changes from day to day. 
As I sit here on the veranda on yet another scorching hot day without a hint of the slightest breeze coupled with outrageous humidity, I often ask myself, "How am I able to do this? How is Tom so tolerant of doing this?  How do we do this with nary a complaint from either of us?"
Geese and other birds are always at the shoreline at the hippo pool.
Is the uniqueness of this special place enough to distract us from any potential discomforts to make us so accepting and tolerant?  I suppose in a way its an accumulation of things over these past years of world travel that has changed us so much. 
Stunning!  We spotted this sausage tree at the hippo pool area.  From this site: "The sausage tree of sub-Saharan Africa is beautiful in flower. The blood-red to maroon flowers hang in long panicles. The fragrance of the flower is not pleasing to humans but attracts the Dwarf Epauletted Fruitbat (Micropteropus pusillus), its pollinator. As the flowers drop from the tree, animals come to feed on the nectar-rich blooms. Impala, duiker, baboons, bush pigs, and lovebirds all feed on the flowers of the Sausage tree. Grey fruits grow out of these flowers. These grey fruits resemble sausages and can grow for months to become over a foot long and weigh over 10 pounds."
The other part is trade-offs...a little discomfort from time to time in order to reap the excitement, not unlike riding on a roller coaster...the fear and the uncomfortable feel in one's belly is compensated for by the thrill.  Will this ride ever stop during this next year until we again fly away?

We don't think so.  We see people like Louise and Danie who after living here for years took off before 6:00 am yesterday in search of the seven hyenas spotted by the rangers not far from here.  We did the same hours later.  It was an unlikely, needle-in-a-haystack kind of thing, neither of us having any success but the adventure of it all...breathtaking.
At a quick glance, one could mistake this for a crocodile.  In either case, "STAY AWAY!"  They are both dangerous animals.
Pinch me.  Wake me up.  Have I died and this is what my form of heaven looks like?  I've never known happiness like this before; interminable and uninterrupted pure bliss. 
As we approached the hippo pool these past two days in a row, we encounter a scene such as this.
If only we all could find comfort on this earth, in this life, that heaven truly is being with someone who loves you unconditionally, in a place you only imagined in your wildest dreams, totally nourished and surrounding by that which makes your heart sing, your pulse racing with excitement and your mind flooded with knowledge and experience.
It appeared there were two hippos at this specific spot but there were more only a short distance away.  The views were obstructed by foliage.
And so it is...forever how long it lasts, it lasts, and we'll move on to the next leg of our journey, remembering and perpetually searching for an experience, however different may somehow match the depth and meaning of our time spent here.

The people?  They nourish our souls as an adjunct to that of the wildlife; comforting, enriching and meaningful.  How grateful we are when serendipitously another event stumbles our way like last night's invitation from Louise and Danie to join them at Ngewenya Lodge, located on the Crocodile River for "sundowners" and Thursday night's buffet dinner.
Regardless of the obstructed view, we were thrilled to see them and will return several times a week.
When the text arrived at 4:40, we promptly responded with an enthusiastic yes.  We'd be ready at 5:00 pm for their arrival to pick us up.  Both hot and sweaty after sitting outdoors upon returning from the hippo pool after more heat and scorching sun, we hurried, showered and dressed and were waiting outside when they arrived.

We had leftovers planned for dinner.  No problem.  We'll have that dinner tonight.  Off we went on the short drive outside the park to the lovely Ngewenya Lodge, a massive complex of time-shares, condos and hotel rooms with one of the finest river views in South Africa and, like Marloth Park, an abundance of wandering wildlife. 
Last night's sunset at Ngwenya Lodge, a beautiful resort about 10 minutes outside Marloth Park.  We enjoyed happy hour and an excellent Thursday night buffet dinner with Louise and Danie.
We hadn't been there in over four years and it was fun to return.  The evening was exceptional, as always, the buffet food superb, and the drinks flowed with ease along with the conversation.

After only a few photos, darkness fell.  We dined outdoor with few mozzies, good service, enjoying the pay-for-what-it-weighs buffet concept.  This time it was our turn to buy after considerable effort in convincing our friends.  The total bill including drinks was a paltry ZAR 470, (US $39.63) for the four of us, drinks, dinner and tip!
Moments before darkness fell we observed these four waterbucks at the river.
Back at home, we hunkered down satisfied over another memorable evening with friends.  Tonight, we'll stay in, dine on good leftovers and take a breather since both Saturday and Sunday nights are busy with other friends.  How did we get so lucky?

By the way, in this past 24 hours, we booked our trip to Victoria Falls, Zambia.  We'll post he details tomorrow.  Please check back.

May your day bring you good luck and heavenly experiences!
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Photo from one year ago today, April 6, 2017:

Tom, Forty Bean's owner Rebecca and Bob in Fairlight, Australia.  For more photos, please click here

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