High cost of living in the US compared to South Africa..."You've Got a Friend"...That is, .Little certainly does...Pig paradise in the park...

Little told his friend that the "pickins" were good at this house so they both climbed the six steps up to the veranda to the front door.  I was in the shower and missed the funny event.  Tom tossed pellets to the ground that motivated them to climb down.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
The Big Daddies didn't seem as interested in the lucerne as the female kudus but this one managed a few mouthsful.
Yesterday's trip to Komatipoort went well.  The visit with dentist Dr. Luzann went better than expected and once my dental work is completed over the next month, I'll share details here.
"Pigs on the porch,"  Pigs in the pond," and Pigs in a pile,"  It's "Pig Paradise in the Park."
Coincidentally Gerhard also had a dentist appointment with Dr. Luzann yesterday, a few hours after mine ended. He was thrilled with his cleaning and of course, the reasonable cost of ZAR 388 (US $27) compared to the typical ZAR 2876 ($200) cost for the same service in the US.  
"Little" was checking out what the kudus were eating.
After his appointment ended, he and Rita headed to Ngwenya where we met up with them for drinks on the veranda followed by the buffet dinner in the dining room.  As always the conversation was superb, the drinks refreshing, and the food, although the same items each Thursday, was consistently good.

We're always surprised with the reasonable cost for such a meal with drinks, tax, and tips.  Mine and Tom's total was only ZAR 325 (US $22.60).  At Jabula Lodge and Restaurant, which we consider a much better restaurant, it's usually twice the amount but well worth the added expense.

At this point, we've been dining out twice a week, once at Ngwenya and once at Jabula.  When we considered the combined weekly total it runs about ZAR 935 (US $65) averaging at ZAR 467 (US $32.50).  This is at least half as much as similar meals at a restaurant in the US, if not more.
Tom didn't feed him on the veranda but I surely would have.  Little is my favorite warthog.
Once again, when we arrive in the US in 115 days, dining out for each meal, we'll be shocked by the high prices, not only for restaurants, accommodations, and rental cars but for all other incidental costs.  Its the nature of the beast.

And, speaking of "the beast"...Tom had me in stitches this morning when he showed me the above photo he'd taken only moments earlier when I was in the shower.  Seeing the photo reminded me of James Taylor's popular song from 1971, "You've Got a Friend."  Click here to listen!
Piglets in a pile.
Apparently, Little, our favorite warthog had "told" a friend our house was a good place to visit.  But, not only the garden of our bush house but also, the veranda which requires only a few gingerly executed steps on slippery tiles to reach.  

They both embarked on the adventure and arrived without incident, shocking Tom in the process when he spotted the two pigs on the porch.  We couldn't help but laugh over the irony of the situation.
A male ostrich's flattened feathers during the downpour several days ago.
What's particularly funny is that animals are just like us, or shall I say, we're just like them?  There nothing like a good friend (s) and we, like Little, have been blessed to have many friends in Marloth Park and other parts of the world as our years-long journey continues.

Tonight, we'll dine in, spending most of the evening on the veranda, at least until the insects bombard us.  Every moment we spend whether its "Just the Two of Us" (click here for that song) or with wildlife or human friends, we feel fortunate during this very special time in our lives.

May you feel fortunate as well.  Happy day!


Photo from one year ago today, December 14, 2017:
Punta Arenas, Chile would have been a great port of call to visit but bad weather prevented the necessary use of the tenders.  We sailed away.  For more details, please click here.

"Buggie" nights...A reality of living in the bush in Africa during the summer months...

Mom with four piglets napping on the edge of the lucerne.  They visit at least once a day.  The piglets have begun to show some interest in pellets.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
A second visit from the thick-tailed bushbaby.
Last night around 2000 hours (8:00 pm), for the first time since we arrived in Marloth Park in February, there were so many insects buzzing us, flying in our faces and landing on and in our clothing, we had no choice but to go inside.
It went from almost no insects to this buzzing frenzy in a mere 24 hours.  The only thing we can attribute this to is a result of the rains of several days ago.  Even after we'd gone inside with the door closed, more insects buzzed us.  
We had no choice but to go into the bedroom (where we keep the door closed at all times), turn on the aircon and watch an episode of a TV series we're wrapping up after watching a few episodes each week, The Brave (disappointingly, this show wasn't renewed for a second season).
Wounded is beginning to look a little better but we doubt he can see from his left eye.  He looks thin and weary but we're feeding him all he'll eat and we're sure other residents are doing the same.
This morning as I was getting showered and dressed for the day, I spotted a slew of those pesky flying things in the bathroom.  How did they get in?  What are these long-winged beige colored flying things?  
I researched online but couldn't find them.  If any of our readers know what these are, please let us know.  We experienced these same pesky things in Kenya over five years ago.  I suppose we'll see them again when we return to Kenya in 64 days.
This morning, back on the veranda, no insects are flying about our heads other than an occasional fly, bee or hornet.  With both of us allergic to bees and hornets, we get up and move when they pester us.  I have so much repellent on, I can't imagine why any insect would approach me, but they do.
Six bushbucks came to call around the same time.  Generally, they don't stay in groups but these two moms, two babies, and two other females showed up simultaneously.
For the past week, I've been using the DEET free repellent friends Uschi and Evan recommended as non-toxic.  I'm still getting some bites but they don't appear to be mosquito bites.  
They look and react more like chigger bites.  I'm not getting bit at night since the mattress was replaced but can't figure out where these are coming from.  Each day I have three or four more bites that itch for weeks, especially during the night.  
Last night I was awakened no less than five times due to the severe itching of about six of the bites.  I put cortisone cream on them for a little bit of relief but only lasts for an hour or two.  I don't scratch much at all, knowing this makes it worse.
This is Africa.  There are insects and there are bites.  I guess I'll just have to live with it for the remaining time we're on the continent, using the safer DEET free repellent. The bites weren't occurring any less frequently when using the repellents with DEET so I suppose the DEET free product is ultimately better.
This morning we found thousands of dead insects on the veranda.  We have no idea why they died or why so many at one time. 
Soon, we're heading to Komatipoort so I'm rushing through today's posts.  I have a dentist appointment and we have to do our usual grocery shopping.  When dining out a few nights a week and time marching on until our departure, we're purchasing fewer groceries than we had a few months ago.

We have plenty of meat (beef, chicken, pork, and fish) left in the big freezer which we're attempting to go through now until we purchase any more.  With many social plans over the holidays, we'll be dining out often and won't be cooking many big meals for now.

Tonight, we're meeting Rita and Gerhard at Ngwenya for early evening river viewing and the buffet dinner indoors.  We'll see how the insect situation is on the veranda as the evening wears on.  We may be going inside to dine earlier than usual if we're bombarded with these insects again.

That's it for today folks.  We had some interesting wildlife events in the past few days which we'll share in tomorrow's post when we have a little more time.  Right now, as more and more holidaymakers arrive in the bush, we've yet to see a single visitor this morning.  This could be our fate over the next three to four weeks as more and more tourists filter in.

Have a pleasant day and night wherever you may be, hopefully, free of pests buzzing about your head!


Photo from one year ago today, December 13, 2017:

As we approached Cape Horn in South America on the cruise, one year ago today.  For more, please click here.

Yet another shocking first!...What's going on?...

We knew we had to be very cautious not only for our safety but for his as well.  If we startled him or told him to get down, he could have broken a leg on the slippery tiles.  Instead, we tossed pellets on the ground near the bottom of the steps.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
Zebras are full of expression and seem to pose for the camera.
So far, we've had two bales of lucerne delivered and today we arranged for more over the next month.  Each was gone in a matter of hours.  At a cost of ZAR 145 ($10.13), it's not as if we plan to order one each day.  The cost would be prohibitive based the fact we're already buying many bags of pellets each week and huge bags of carrots and apples.
We were busy working on our laptops and didn't realize what was happening until we saw this zebra climbing up the veranda steps.
I must admit I have developed calluses on my right hand from the way I hold the big kitchen knife when each day I cut many carrots and apples into small bite-sized pieces.

When I first starting cutting the produce, and we were visited by many small bushbucks and duikers, and now many youngsters, I realized the pieces had to be small enough for the smaller animals to avoid choking.  They are so hungry, they devour what's in front of them not considering if a piece of fruit or veg is too big to handle.  
We didn't have any food, pellets or lucerne on the veranda.  What inspired him to climb up the slippery tile steps baffles us.  We did nothing to encourage this.
With small pieces, everyone can enjoy them, although animals such as zebras are known to eat an entire whole carrot.  However, we don't offer them that way.  We try to spread what we have among all of the visitors considering their safety, health, and well-being.
We didn't think it was a familiarity situation since we don't see zebras more than a few times a week.
As mentioned in yesterday's post (please check it out to see some cute photos) regarding our decision to provide some lucerne along with the pellets and produce, we can't possibly provide enough food for any one of the animal's daily needs during this dry season as they struggle to find nourishment.
Just like that, he was on the veranda.  The only reason we think this happened is due to the fact that many residents feed the zebras on their verandas.  This one doing so may have been a normal course of action.
Today, when I stopped at Daisy's Den while Tom was getting a haircut, owner Mark explained the lucerne was selling like crazy.  Many other residents, like us, are very concerned about the welfare of Marloth Park's wildlife.

And, although it's rained a few times in the past week, it's nowhere near enough to make a difference at this point.  So much more is needed and the prospects over the next week don't look too good based on the weather report.
We gave him time to fulfill his curiosity, talking softly and with confidence.
Keeping in mind these stressful and trying time for the wildlife, it's not surprising that both "Little" (warthog) and the zebra have climbed the steps to the veranda.  They see us tossing food out to them and when we took a break, they came looking.  Smart animals.

Fortunately, we know better than to overreact during these situations.  Staying back, giving them space and talking in soft gentle tones, appears to keep them feeling calm and unthreatened.  A single nudge from a warthog or kick from a zebra could be life-threatening and we don't take that risk lightly.
It was definitely a shock to see him on the veranda but we appreciated the photo op!
And regardless of how familiar we may have become with many of the magnificent animals, we always remember these are wild animals, not pets.  Never once, have either of us attempted to "pet" or touch them, nor will we.
He looked around for food.  When he didn't find any and heard the pellets being tossed to the ground beyond the steps, he gingerly lumbered down the steps.
Even Frank and The Mrs., our resident francolin (bird) couple can be feisty when we've seen them go after warthogs and kudus when they feel the birdseed we toss is threatened.  We take nothing for granted.
He let out a loud whinny and took off for the pellets we tendered at the bottom of the steps.  It was quite a nice visit, one we'll always remember.
We're especially careful around the horned antelopes including Big Daddies (kudus with massive horns) and Willie, our resident wildebeest.  We easily see how they use those horns to make their presence known.  The male kudus often tap the ground with their massive horns to let whoever is in their way know they are fierce and dangerous.  We've never fed them by hand!
The baby wasn't interested in eating solid food quite yet avoiding the lucerne and the pellets.
Actually, the only animals we feel safe getting real close to are the female bushbucks (no horns) who get scared away each time they try to eat when other animals are around.  The girls and the duikers (who are very skittish) are often left behind.
She stood off to the side while the adults devoured the lucerne.
As a result, we often stand next to the female bushbucks protecting them while they eat.  Many are nursing moms and they too need lots of nourishment along with all the others.
Mark, the owner of Daisy's Den explained, "Once the zebras show up, they'll eat until the lucerne if gone."  That's exactly what they did.
Last night we had an enjoyable evening when Rita and Gerhard came for dinner.  We made an entirely low carb, high fat, moderate protein meal which they both seemed to enjoy.  We all cleaned our plates leaving nothing behind while the conversation, as always was lively and entertaining.
Mom stopped eating so the baby could suckle.
We're staying in tonight.  The weather is warming up again after a few day reprieve.  Our aircon in the bedroom has been repaired and we're set to take it on.  Summer in Africa is hot, hot, hot!

Be safe.  Be happy.

Photo from one year ago today, December 12, 2017:
The giant Sentados Frente del Mar statue in Puerto Montt, Chile is often criticized for its unattractiveness.  We found it to be humorous and charming.  Note the size of the statue by comparing me standing at her feet.  For more photos, please click here.

Another outstanding "first!"...A difficult decision...

This is Cupid with a heart-shaped marking on her throat.  She was particularly loving the lucerne.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
Wildebeest Beest arrived in time to get in on the action.  He ate quite a bit and then decided he'd sit on it only sharing with a warthog or two.
When we often heard our Marloth Park friends talk about ordering bales of lucerne (hay) for the wildlife who are unable to freely forage with the lack of rain during the normally rainy spring season, we hesitated to order it.
The animals are so hungry, many residents have been ordering lucerne to be delivered.  Although we don't like the idea of them sharing a food source due to potential health hazards, hunger in itself is a huge health hazard.
We know this can be a breeding ground for animal bacteria.  But, over the past several weeks seeing dozens of skinny hungry wildlife, we had to make a decision...do we get the lucerne and feed them a protein-rich diet of lucerne or do we continue with just the pellets, apples, and carrots which we're going through faster than can be imagined. 

Its been hard feeding them enough with the pellets, apples, and carrots.  Yes, they visit other homes in the park and are fed, often generously, but few residents are outside on their veranda each and every day and night feeding the animals, as we are.
Daisy's Den delivers the lucerne for ZAR 145 (US 10.05)  Lucerne is: Oat, barley, and wheat plant materials occasionally cut green and made into hay for animal fodder.  It's a rich source of protein, carbohydrates and minerals ideal for wildlife during the drought.
When we drive around Marloth Park almost daily passing one bush house after another, we rarely see residents outdoors feeding the animals.  A rough guess might be, that we may observe one out of 30 homes (on a busy weekend) with occupants outdoors feeding the wildlife.  
While Mark, the owner of Daisy's Den was still here, 15 kudus showed up in minutes and began devouring the lucerne with considerable enthusiasm.
On typical non-holiday weekdays, we may not see more one or two residents outdoors feeding the wildlife during our two-plus hour drive through the park.  No offense intended.  

Many homeowners only stay in their bush homes a few times a year for short periods.  Many residents purchase lucerne to feed the wildlife which doesn't require the resident to be outdoors.  

More and more kudus arrived to partake in the bale.
Some homeowners go as far as ordering lucerne to be delivered to their bush home while they are away, ensuring the animals still are fed in their absence.  How generous is that?
Then, there were 15 kudus with a few off to the sides.
Many homes are rented as holiday homes but most often they're rented over weekends during holiday and non-holiday periods.  The tourists may be in Kruger National Park or otherwise sightseeing spending little time in the gardens of their rental properties.

The local markets sell small bags of pellets that visitors may purchase which is not enough to feed a handful of kudus in one day.  Many animals spend the majority of their time foraging for food.  A cupful or two of pellets doesn't put a dent in their daily dietary needs.

We couldn't believe how quickly they began breaking down the bale.
We struggled with this decision but when we've seen nursing moms with ribs showing, injured warthogs looking thin and malnourished and even a lizard as shown in yesterday's post braving approaching us for food.  Of course, we complied as shown in yesterday's post.  Please click here if you missed it.

It took a few hours for a Big Daddy to arrive.  He wasn't quite as excited about the lucerne as the females and the youngsters.
If we dumped an entire 40 kg (88 pounds) bag of pellets on the ground, in a few hours, it would be gone.  Their sense of smell is outstanding as indicated by our above comment as to how quickly the kudus arrived after Mark placed the bale of lucerne in the garden.  It took less than 60 seconds for 15 kudus to arrive.

As you can see, we decided to give it a try by ordering one bale of lucerne which was delivered yesterday morning.  The response was unreal. For hours we watched a wide array of wildlife come to partake of the bounty.  
Moments later another Big Daddy arrive and the competition began for dominance.
For once there was less "jockeying" for position.  There was enough for everyone and the competition was less fierce than usual.  As the hours past, the pile of hay became smaller and smaller until it was finally but a light greenish dust on the dirt.  
This Big Daddy wasn't taking any guff from another slightly smaller male.
And yet, as I write here now, Willie is sitting in the green dust, as content as he could be.  He picked over some remaining mouthsful and we added pellets to round out his visit.  He seems so content.  At this point, he's been here for the past three hours.

This morning we had a second bale delivered which we're saving to distribute later this afternoon.  At the moment it's on the veranda far enough back from the edge for anyone to reach.  In the interim, the remaining lucerne will be fodder for any visitors mid-day.
They worked out an amicable arrangement and all went well.
Tonight Rita and Gerhard are coming for dinner.  They too, after seeing the excitement here, have ordered their first bale which arrived this morning and surely by now are reveling in the pleasure of feeding these hungry creatures.

May your day be filled with meaning and purpose...

Photo from one year ago today, December 11, 2017:
Shoreline view from high atop the city at Puerto Montt, Chile.  For more photos, please click here.

Heimlich Maneuver on a lizard?...What???...

Oh, oh, Mr. Monitor Lizard picked up the rib bone intended for the warthogs!  To see what transpired, please read below.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
A bit blurry in the dark, this thick-tailed bushbaby was a first-time visitor to our garden.
Anytime, we aren't on a game drive in Kruger National Park, on a drive in Marloth Park, shopping in Komatipoort, or out with friends we're on the veranda watching, waiting and observing a vast array of wildlife who come to call.
Note her long pink tongue inside the cup.  She devoured the contents in seconds.
Although we're fast approaching the busy holiday season where wildlife will be either hiding out in the bush or parklands or "dining" at many of the oft unoccupied holiday rentals where holidaymakers provide them with both "good-for-them" foods or not-so-good-for-them foods all of which they eat with the same aplomb.

Sure, human leftovers, chips (fries), sweets, potato chips, and tortilla chips may taste and even marshmallows may taste good to a kudu or bushbuck but many of these foods can be toxic for them and certainly don't add to their nutritional well-being.
When we noticed Mr. Monitor Lizard coming out from the bush, we were surprised how much he ventured out. They are very shy, usually living underground in tunnels they dig.  He was hungry and on the hunt.
Nonetheless, many of the wildlife like the taste of such foods and we may not see them for days, if not weeks.  Some holidaymakers have already arrived but certainly not as many as we'll see in the next few weeks, with Christmas only 15 days from today.  
We didn't know how to get eggs to him when each time we've approached in the past, he rapidly slithered away.
Knowing our visitors may be sparse, we're totally engrossed in each visitor that continues to arrive as we stay on the veranda, rain or shine, days and nights.  The power outages continue but not necessarily following the schedule posted by Eskom, the power company.
This warthog is named "Basket" shortened from Tom calling him "basketballs."  Get it?  He and the lizard seemed fine in each other's space.
It rained again last night which combined with the rain over the prior few days, is starting to "green" the bush.  Today is very cool and comfortable with a strong breeze.  We're loving every moment knowing cool weather is short lived in Africa.

As we've sat here on the veranda, we've had a few new experiences we are excited to share today.  One was the appearance of Mr. Monitor Lizard who seldom makes an comes out of his hovel to see us and he offered us a special treat as shown in today's photos.
For the first time ever, he approached the veranda, looking at us.  He didn't seem to like pellets so we tried to figure out what we could feed him.
The photos tell the story of his visit.  He was looking for food.  If we approach him, he rapidly slithers away so we had to figure out a way to help him out without scaring him.  Tom suggested we just toss him some of the many eggs we always have on hand for the mongooses.
He was scanning the garden looking for possible food sources.
There was no way to get the eggs to him without breaking them.  So we tossed him 10 eggs.  As the shells broke the contents remained in many of the shell fragments and he devoured each and every morsel including eating many of the nutrient-rich shells.
Over a period of several minutes, Tom tossed several eggs his way.  He seemed very pleased licking the eggs out of the broken shells.
With warthog Basket in the garden at the same time, earlier we'd tossed him some bones left from Tom's rib dinner at Jabula.  Here I go, saying we give them leftovers!!!  Hypocritical?  No. 

The minerals in bones are useful to warthogs and they'll readily eat any type of bones we provide.  However, they have no interest in any type of meat.  By nature, they are herbivores but may in desperate situations they may consume carrion.

Every so often, he stopped eating the eggs and shells to scope his surroundings and safety.
When we saw the monitor lizard pick up the bone, we freaked out.  How do you do the Heimlich maneuver to a lizard?  What if he choked?  Worried, we watched intently not knowing what would happen.  Miraculously, he swallowed it right down with enthusiasm and went back to eating the bits of eggs and shells.
He paused when he noticed the rib bone, left from Tom's dinner at Jabula on Saturday night.
We read the following online giving us peace of mind after he wandered off:
"While most monitor lizards are carnivorous, eating eggs, smaller reptiles, fish, birds and small mammals, some also eat fruit and vegetation, depending on where they live."  Obviously, they have the ability to digest bone if they eat birds and mammals.  

Later on, during the evening after dark when the scheduled power outage didn't occur, for the first time, we had a thick-tailed bushbaby eat every last drop of yogurt we place on the bushbaby stand each night.  The usual smaller bushbabies had yet to eat the contents of the little cup and the much larger thick-tailed bushbaby devoured it in seconds.
And...he swallowed it right down! 
From this site: "The thick-tailed bushbaby is a nocturnal primate with child-like cries, which gave cause for the English vernacular name. Probably due to its diet and larger body size, this is the most social of all known bushbabies."

For the second time in one day, we discovered these two situations, both of which added so much to our ongoing experiences in the bush.  Surely, in these next 66 days, until we depart Marloth Park, more wonders will come our way.

Be well!  Be happy!
Photo from one year ago today, December 10, 2017:
Boulevard scene in Arica, Chile while on a port of call during the cruise.  For more photos, please click here.