Part 1...Our six-year world travel anniversary...Final full day with friends...Bush braai in Kruger and game drive...


Giraffes in the bush.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
An orange-breasted roller.
Today, October 31, 2018, is the six-year anniversary of our traveling the world.  Tonight, we'll celebrate this meaningful day for us with Tom and Lois at Jabula Lodge and Restaurant on their final evening in South Africa.
The Crocodile River from inside Kruger National Park.
Most years, we've included lots of anniversary photos and points of interest in our travels as we celebrate this special day.  Today will be different since the past few days have been a series of fun activities we'd like to present as we wind down our time with our friends.
A mom and baby elephant.
On Monday afternoon we stopped by Rita and Gerhard's holiday home which just happened to be the house we'd rented in December 2014 for our first experiences in Marloth Park.  

It was not only wonderful to see them both again (they are the couple that found Marloth Park through our website which they'd been reading for the past few years) and to walk down "memory lane" as we meandered through the house we'd remembered so well.
Elephant on the side of the dirt road.
From our experience on the veranda when the Mozambique Spitting Cobra dropped from the ceiling to land next to Tom's feet, to the many great sightings we encountered sitting outside, day after day.  Great memories, we'll always cherish as the memories we've created here in the Orange house.
Sunset last night in Kruger.
That evening we returned to Ngwenya for another night of wildlife viewing on the river and dinner off the menu.  The food wasn't as good as Thursday's buffet but once Tom and Lois leave we'll surely dine there again on Thursdays.  
Another wonderful elephant sighting with one tusk missing.
The wildlife sightings were at a minimum that evening but we enhanced our desire to spot wildlife by spending considerable time at "Two Trees" seeing more lions, elephants, waterbucks and more.
A bateleur vulture against the sky at sunset.
Today, we had extraordinary sightings of a female lion kill with photos we're anxious to share in tomorrow's post.   But, today's photos are from Tuesday's late afternoon game drive in Kruger National Park and then a game drive in the dark after the fantastic meal in the bush.

We were hosted by an excellent company, Royal Safaris, which may be found at this link.  They offer a wide array of safari options easily suitable for more tourists who desire the full Kruger National Park adventure.
Another stunning view of the Crocodile River at dusk.
Also, this company provides many other tour options tourists typically seek when they visit South Africa such as the Panorama Route, the Hoedspruit Day Tour, birding safaris, full day safaris, and the spectacular bush braai dinners in the wild in Kruger National Park.
A hyena we spotted in the dark in Kruger.
Our 1500 hrs (3:00 pm) pickup worked well for us and off we went, cameras, repellent, and enthusiasm in hand, prepared for some exciting adventures.  Unfortunately, it was a very hot afternoon with temps in high 30C's (mid 90F's) and most animals remained undercover during the heat of the afternoon sun.

Subsequently, we saw very little prior to the time of the bush braai dinner.  After the scrumptious beautifully prepared and presented dinner, which we'll share in tomorrow's post along with our lion photos, we were able to see more wildlife in the dark.  Details will follow.
An adorable bush hare.
In a few hours, we'll be off to Jabula for the evening for what surely will be another special anniversary and a celebration of this special time we spent with friends Tom and Lois.

May your day and evening be filled with many wonders.  Back at you soon!
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Photo from one year ago today, October 31, 2017:
 October 31, 2017, was our five year anniversary of traveling the world, taken on the veranda at the villa in Atenas, Costa Rica.  For more anniversary photos, please click here.


Winding down time with friends...Two days until their departure...The activities will continue to the last minute...


A cattle egret standing in shallow water in the Crocodile River.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
The monitor lizard in our garden came out from her burrow for a refreshing drink of water from the cement pond.
As Tom and Lois's time here comes to a close on Thursday when they depart to return to the US, we're packing in every moment with quality time, not only together as friends but also in taking advantage of every opportunity for them to experience more wildlife.
The monitor lizard took off back into the bush.
This afternoon at 1515 hours (3:15 pm) a safari vehicle will arrive to pick us up for an evening at Kruger National Park which includes an afternoon game drive, a bush braai (dinner out in the open in the park in the dark), followed by another game drive in the dark.
Elephant we spotted close to the fence between Marloth and Kruger Parks.
With a spotlight to help us see, we'll have an opportunity to see those special nocturnal animals that are elusive during daylight hours including many of which are never seen during daylight.
The sausage tree at the hippo pool and bird blind is bursting with these giant pods which will eventually bloom into bright red flowers.  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."
We may have safari luck or we may not but in either case, it will be fun to dine in the bush, an experience we had a few times when we were here five years ago. 
Both Toms splurging on strawberry milkshakes at Aamazing (spelling is correct) River View restaurant when we took a break from our usual drive in Marloth to stop for cool drinks.
Those five-year-ago exceptional occasions were hosted by Louise and Danie, an experience we cannot expect to match in elegance tonight although based on very positive reviews we're anticipating a wonderful experience. For details and amazing photos for our former Valentine's Day bush braai may be found here at this link.
Lois, the two Toms and I had a great break in the action.
Of course, tomorrow, we'll post photos of tonight's bush braai and game drives, hoping to share some unique wildlife sightings.  Tonight's event is hosted by another company, Royal Safari Bush Braai dinner since Louise and Danie no longer conduct these events in Kruger.  
A warthog stops for a sip.
The ease in booking with Royal Safari Bush Braai makes us feel confident this will be an excellent experience for the four of us and any other participants who will also be included.  
A female bushbuck standing in the water on the Crocodile River in Kruger.
Last night we returned to Ngwenya Lodge and Restaurant for Crocodile River viewing and dinner.  Ordering off the menu wasn't nearly as good as Thursday night's buffet dinner. There's wasn't much in the way of wildlife viewing but we took many photos of a stunning sunset (photos to follow soon).
Cape buffalo aren't the most handsome of wildlife but we're always thrilled to see them.  They are one of the Big Five.
Back at the house early, we prepared the veranda for our usual nighttime viewing but had missed the primetime viewing which is usually before and after dusk.
Two male cape buffalos on the river's edge.
This morning was quite a treat when 15 kudus stopped by including one "Big Daddy," four warthogs including "Little and the Girls", a plethora of helmeted guineafowl and of course, Frank and the Mrs. who've yet to produce any chicks.

As I write here now, Vusi and Zef are here cleaning the house and the veranda.  Its been fantastic to have the two of them coming in each day and eliminating the massive amounts of dust that enters the house from the action in the dirt garden when the animals come to call.
Lois feeding a large number of kudus who stopped by.  She puts the pellets on the veranda's edge to keep the helmeted guineafowl from taking them all.
For the next few hours, we'll relax on the veranda until it's time to head out for our exciting upcoming afternoon and evening.

Be well.  Be happy.  
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Photo from one year ago today, October 30, 2017:
On Saturday night, after dinner, in Managua, Nicaragua, we wandered through the pool area of our hotel.  For food photos from the dinner, please click here.

A giraffe story unfolds before our eyes...Frikkie's Dam bush braai...

When we turned onto Swartwitpens Road when returning from the river, we spotted this giraffe with a dilemma.  She wanted to cross the road to join her tower of giraffes but was unable to cross this deep trench.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
A young male kudu learns the ways of being so cute its impossible to resist giving him pellets.
It was an excellent Sunday in the bush.  We began our day, as always, coffee and tea on the veranda.  I'd gotten up early to begin cooking the crustless cheesy sausage and egg quiche to bring to the bush braai at Frikkie's Dam and made a pan of well-seasoned chicken wings, both of which we shared at the gathering.
From what we understand, the trench was dug to make way for power lines and had yet to be completed.
Lois sliced cheddar cheese sticks and brought along cracker for the two of them.  We packed the cooler with ice, beverages including beer wine, gin and tonics, and vodka and Sprite Zero for some options during the day-long event.  The two Toms drank Lion brand beer while Lois and I had a few lightweight cocktails of gin and tonic and vodka and Sprite.
Her "friends" or family members on the opposite side of the road noticed her dilemma between nibbles on tree tops.
After paying the required ZAR 100 (US $6.87) per carload at the entrance gate to Lionspruit, a game reserve within Marloth Park, we were on our way to Frikkie's Dam down a series of bumpy dirt roads, hoping to see a few of the wildlife that lived therein.
It didn't appear there was any way they could help so they went back to eating.
We arrived at the braai area in Frikkie's Dam to find Louise and Danie had everything set up as usual.  It was a pleasure to have Tom and Lois along with us for yet another fine African experience, unlike anything they've ever done in their lives.  

She continued to contemplate a solution.
Who has the opportunity to enjoy a lunch among the wildlife in a game reserve in Africa?  It's truly a once in a lifetime experience.  And for us, we're grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in social events in this magical place, Marloth Park.

The giraffe on the far left seemed more concerned than the giraffe in the forefront.
As for today's giraffe photos...these were taken on Saturday when we embarked on the usual two-hour drive in the park searching for unique and unusual sightings, along with all the typical sightings we've encountered in Marloth Park.

Again, she considered her options.  Surely, crossing could easily lead to a severe injury.
After several excellent sightings, we decided to head back to the house for a little relaxation time and to shower and dress for our upcoming evening and dinner at Jabula.

Finally, she gave up considering crossing and walked along the trench to its end.
Little did we know, we'd encounter the giraffe situation represented today in our photos.  Yes, it was a simple situation...a giraffe unable and/or unwilling to cross a deep trench which had been made in preparation for laying new electrical lines.

The one giraffe continued to follow her with his eyes.
Had she tried to cross the trench, she could easily have been injured, perhaps even breaking a leg or worse.  She knew this was a precarious situation and didn't want to risk life or limb.  She looked at her friends/family members from time to time seeking help and one of them responded in contemplating what could possibly be done.
He desperately wanted to help.
Realistically, her only safe option was to walk all the way to the end of the trench, cross the road and double back to meet up with her tower of giraffes.

Watching her indecisiveness along with her desire to get across was tender and elicited considerable emotion from all of us.  We were in awe of her determination and innate sense of caution at the same time.
Finally, he took off down to road to see where she went.
Finally, she gave up and decided to walk the length of the road on her side of the trench.  When she reached the end, she made her way to the road and surely met up with the remainder of her group.  It was a special sighting, one we'll all always remember.

He was stymied as to where she may have gone.
This morning we drove to Komatipoort from breakfast at Stoep Cafe which we hope to return to one more time before Tom and Lois depart on Thursday to return to the US.

As soon as we upload this post, we're on our way for the final time for the four of us to Ngwenya for river viewing and dinner.  There's no buffet tonight but we'll all order off the menu after spending time on the veranda perusing the Crocodile River for whatever Mother Nature wants to present to us tonight.
Finally, she made it to the open road and waited for her friends to arrive.  Happy ending.  Happy giraffe.  Happy us, for witnessing this event.
May your day and evening present you with those special things that make your heart flutter.
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Photo from one year ago today, October 29, 2017:

A huge bull on his way to...who knows what?  For more photos from Managua, Nicaragua, please click here.

Part 2, Matsamo Culural Village Tour on the border of South Africa and Swaziland...

The Matsamo village consists of many huts such as these, made by the men using straw, wood, vines and cow's dung.  They are very well constructed.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
Tom and Lois have particularly enjoyed the bushbabies nightly visit to the cup of yogurt on the little stand.
Whether or not the villagers of Matsamo actually live the primitive life they described as customary in these modern times, it was indeed interesting to learn about their history and culture.
There are various boma type structures to round up the cattle at night or in which to conduct meetings among the tribesmen.
The young man who provided us with a private tour of the village was enthusiastic and obviously dedicated to the customs of his heritage, many of which we assume continue today to some degree.
The chief, our tour guide's father, was in a meeting with another tribesman.
It was evident by his detailed descriptions that the male members of the tribe supersede the females of the tribe in many ways with the exception of the grandmother who is held in the highest esteem, even above that of the chief.
The baskets hanging on the side of the boma fence is for nesting chickens.
Women are married at very young ages and many men take two wives.  The first wife will have children, cook, clean and care for the family and continues to do so until the man decides to take a second wife.
The largest hut was for the grandmother where all the teenage girls sleep once past the age of seven or eight years old.
At this point, the first wife is "promoted" and she moves to another hut without a cooking area.  The new wife is then responsible for all of the household tasks while the first wife languishes in an easier lifestyle.  Interesting, eh?
Note the quality construction of the huts.
There is no limit to the number of children the wives may bear regardless of their status in the family unit. Its a lifestyle difficult for most of us to imagine, so far removed from our own reality.  
The chief's son, the youngest of his 25 children from two wives respectively with two wives, the first with 15 children, the second with 10 children.
After the tour ended, we made our way back to the car and proceeded to drive back to Marloth Park via the proper roads, avoiding the potholed roads.  By early afternoon we were back on the veranda waiting for visitors while Lois and I prepared a lovely dinner for the evening.
This low entrance to the huts is intended to keep invaders out and present a humble entrance for those who are welcomed.  A large stick us kept by the entrance in the event an unwelcomed visitors intrudes.
I guess some things never change especially in our generation of retired seniors, women doing most of the cooking and men taking on other household tasks.  For us, traveling the world over these past six years has led us each to fall into specific roles and tasks based on our skills and interest, less on gender identify roles of decades past.
Decorative items to be worn during festivities and when young women are presented to the chief as potential new wives for himself and others.
I prefer to cook. Tom prefers to do the cleanup and the dishes.  He does the heavy lifting of the 40 kg (88 pounds) pellets while I put away the groceries.  I wash the laundry and if helpers aren't available he hangs it on the clothesline.
The husband and wife sleep separately on mats on the ground, the man on the right, the woman on the left.  As we entered the hut we had to comply with this left/right ritual, man always on the right.  Hummm...or did he mean "man is always right?"
In many cultures established roles and tasks are distributed by a couple, regardless of gender, in a similar manner, based on expertise, ability, and interest.  This method works well for us and never, do either of us feel we are locked into a specific gender obligation.
Various baskets used for collecting water by the young women from the local river.
Yesterday, Saturday, we embarked on the Crocodile River drive in Marloth Park and once again has some spectacular sightings we'll share in tomorrow's post.  
The village was designed to generate revenue for the villagers and many areas were modern and tourist-friendly.
As always, last night's dinner at Jabula was fantastic along with the fun the four of us had sitting at the bar yakking with Leon, the owner.  Dawn, his wife, and co-owner was out of town visiting family and we kept him entertained as he did us!
For an additional sum, we could have stayed for lunch.  But when reviewing the online menu, we opted out on this when many of the items were wheat, corn, and starch-based and deep fried.
Soon, we're off to another bush braai in Lionspruit, the game reserve within a game reserve where we'll spend the better part of the day at Frikkie's Dam with Louise, Danie, and friends.  It will be a pleasure to share this delightful event with Tom and Lois as their time here is quickly winding down.  In a mere four days, they'll depart to return to the US.
Several areas were set up for dining and many tourists were dining as we walked through the dining area.
Have a fantastic day, yourselves!  We'll be thinking of all of you as we take photos while embracing today's fun event.

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Photo from one year ago today, October 28, 2017:

Exterior photo of the hotel, the Real InterContinental Managua at Metrocentro Mall, where we stayed for two nights, to renew our Costa Rica visas. For more photos and details, please click here.