A visit to Kruger National Park with many special sightings!...

Today, Ken took this playful elephant baby photo.  What a fantastic shot!
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
Ken's photo:  A Southern Carmine Bee-Eater they spotted today in Kruger National Park, the first sighting for him and Linda.
Today, my plan had been an entirely different topic than our visit to Kruger this morning.  Not only did we take off for the park now that the holidaymakers have mostly left the area, but Linda and Ken and Rita and Gerhard had also done the same.
The baby elephant at play with family members.
We prefer to go into the park on our own since its never easy taking photos from the back seat of a standard car.  Besides, experienced self-drive enthusiasts each has their own particular way of searching for wildlife and routes they prefer to take.

As it turned out we met Rita and Gerhard for lunch at the Mugg & Bean for a delightful lunch and conversation, as always.  By the time we returned to the house, Linda and Ken were already sitting on the veranda working on their photos from the day's self-drive and offered to include several of their photos for today's post.
There were six giraffes in this particular tower.
With company coming for dinner (friends of Linda and Ken's) at 1700 hours, (5:00 pm), the two of them are preparing and cooking the meal, I was left with 90 minutes in which to complete today's post, about one-third of the time I usually spend.

I'd taken over 100 photos today and the time required to go through all of them would occupy the entire 90 minutes I had allowed to get this uploaded.  Thus, in my haste, I'm doing the best I can and apologize for any brevity and errors.
Elephant family crossing the road with a few babies protected by the parade.
With only 27 days remaining until we leave Marloth Park, we may only visit Kruger National Park a few more times.  Today, proved to be a special day with several good sightings and also, the lack of tourists in the park.  
Unfortunately, obstructed by vegetation, it was challenging to get good photos of the five lions we spotted near the entrance to Crocodile Bridge.  This may have been five of the notorious Verhami Pride.
Although there would be three or four vehicles jockeying for position at special sightings, overall traveling through the park was easy.  After stopping and staying so long at the lion sighting toward the end of the day, we realized we needed to get the show on the road and get back.

The dinner guests will arrive in less than 30 minutes and I need to shower again (another hot, sweaty day) and make myself presentable for the evening on the veranda.
In a hurry to get back to the house to do today's post, these were the best we could get of this pride of lions.
Over the past 48 hours, we've been bombarded by biting flies.  I can't type more than a few words and I have to stop to swat flies, hornets, and wasps away from my sweaty face.  But, as they say, TIA, aka "This is Africa" and that's the price we pay to enjoy such wonders as we're showing here today in our photos.

In the next several days, we'll include more photos from today's trip to Kruger and an especially interesting story for tomorrow when I'll have more time to be more detail oriented.

Have a spectacular day and evening, wherever you may be.

Photo from one year ago today, January 18, 2018:

Tom is quite a history buff and is particularly fascinated with older structures. For more photos of Recoleta, please click here.

An outstanding birthday party in the bush...

Ken set up the camera on a timer to take this photo of all 10 of us!  Fantastic!
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
Fork-trailed drongo Ken spotted in the garden.

It was quite a night.  A fabulous time was had by all.  The food all came out well, per my expectations, and everyone kindly gushed over the wide array of options and flavors.
Rita loved being silly with all of us at her birthday dinner party.
We included the menu in yesterday's post.  If you haven't seen it, please click here.  It was a lot of work making all the menu items in the sweltering heat and humidity which has finally cooled down a bit today.  
Rita and I pose for more silly photos.  We've built quite a lasting friendship in only a few short months.  We both feel fortunate for all of our wonderful friends.
With Linda's efficient help we managed to get through all the food prep and later, both she and Louise jumped in to help with dishes.  Tom kept loading the dishes and soon, all will be completed perhaps even before Zef and Vusi arrive who are always willing to do dishes when they clean the house each day.
From left to right, Danie, Leon, Tom, Gerhard and Ken, toasting to a good evening.
Somehow, we don't feel right leaving them piles of dishes from the prior night's dinner and/or party and we make every effort to clean up as much as possible.  By 8:00 am this morning, I had the second load of laundry washing, Tom had the dishwasher emptied and put away and we were ready to begin a new day.
And the girls, from left to right, Louise. Dawn, me, Linda and Rita.
Most likely this will be the last dinner party that we'll host in Marloth Park.  With only 28 days remaining until we leave the park, we'll begin chipping away at the food we have left as opposed to buying large quantities of food for future entertainment purposes.
Linda and Louise took on dish duty.
And what a party it was!  It was a perfect compilation of personalities, ability to laugh and the commonality of our mutual love of the bush.  The evening passed so quickly, we were disappointed when it was over.

We celebrated with one toast after another.
Yes, we worked hard but it was worth every moment.  Today, my legs are tired from being on my feet for almost two days, standing on the ceramic tile floors.  The awful weather, humid and hot made the prep all the more taxing.  

The boys toasting once again.
But, I can't wipe the smile off my face in recalling the fun Rita, Gerhard our other friends and Tom and I had last night.  Of course, adding to the night's good humor was the constant flow of some of our favorite warthogs who stopped by to see what all the commotion was about and yes, check out the pellet situation.
We had no idea why the fingers on our heads, but apparently, Ken, who was taking photos, thought it was worthy of a shot.
We saw "Little," Mike and Joe, Sigfried and Roy, Mom and Babies, and not surprisingly "Basket, The Bully" who stopped by for a while to show off that he too, could be good-natured in a social setting.

Originally, I'd planned to serve the meal in courses, but when we got a late start with the food since we were preoccupied having fun, we narrowed it down to only three courses, instead of four.  It all worked out as well as we could have wanted.
Rita and Ken pose for silliness.
Today, Linda and Ken are heading to Kruger for a few hours and soon, we're off to the dentist for my second to the last appointment.  Then my teeth will be done, done, done until our next cleaning in some other country down the road, wherever that may be.

Tonight, we'll dine on leftovers which we'll particularly enjoy at a leisurely pace with Linda and Ken.  Perhaps, after dinner, on the veranda, we'll play a few more rounds of their dominos-type game while seeing who stops by to say hello.

Have a fantastic day!
Photo from one year ago today, January 17, 2018:
There are also many historical hotels and buildings in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  For more photos, please click here.

In another state of mind today...It's all about the food...Tonight's menu...

Today, there has been an invasion of baboons and Vervet monkey around our property.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
Young male bushbuck in the garden.
Today reminds me of our old lives when we entertained, making a wide array of main and side dishes and of course, some type of scrumptious dessert.   The place settings, the linen placemats, and linen napkins folded into a configuration I learned almost 50 years ago when for a short time I worked as a server in a supper club in Minnesota.

No doubt, I always make more food than we'll need, fearing that there's enough for everyone.  Plus, Tom and I both love eating leftovers.  The convenience of not having to cook for a few more days along with the opportunity to savor the special foods once again makes leftovers especially pleasurable for us. 
Little while lounging in the water in the cement pond.
With Linda and Ken here we'll feast again tomorrow night and freeze whatever is left.  Based on the foods we have accumulated in the chest freezer we may not have to shop for food again, other than fresh produce, for the remainder of our time in Marloth Park, at this point in 29 days.  It's hard for us to believe the time is passing so quickly.

Tonight's menu for Rita's birthday consists of the following items:

Happy Hour 
Lemon Drop Martinis (sugar-free) *
Assorted Nuts and Cheese

First Course
Spiced Pumpkin Soup*

Second Course
Par 30 Salad*
with bacon, cauliflower bits, slivered almonds, diced green onions, fresh greens and tossed with homemade dressing

Third Course
Marinated Filet Mignon*
Rosemary Lamb Chop*
Peel & Eat Prawn Tails*
Cheesy Potato Casserole
Cheesy Cauliflower Bake*
Sauteed Green Beans with Crispy Bacon and Caramelized Onions*
Toasted Garlic Ciabatta Bread with Parmesan Cheese

Fourth Course - Dessert
Cheese Pie with Buttery Almond Crust*

All items marked with an asterisk (*) indicate the item is low carb, grain, starch, gluten-free and sugar-free

 This young male bushbuck stops by several times a day along with other bushbucks.
So far I have everything prepared except the final touches on the salad, cooking the prawns, baking the side dishes and preparing and grilling the garlic bread.  Tom will be cooking the meats on the braai.

But even with this seemingly small amount left to do it will result in a busy day when putting it all together.  Thus, based on this, unfortunately,  I have to cut today's post short in order to get back to work on this lofty menu.
Little, leaving the cement pond after a soak on a hot humid day.
By the way, last night we had a barrage of visitors, including many warthogs, kudus, bushbucks, and duikers.  It was a delightful evening on the veranda with Linda and Ken.  We had a nice dinner and played a fun domino-type game.

Tonight's party should be fun as well.  Let's just hope the power stays on!

Happy day to all.

Photo from one year ago today, January 16, 2018:

This scene in La Recoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires, where Evita Peron is entombed particularly caught our eye.  For those photos, please click here.

Celebrating with friends...Dinner in town...Is it dangerous at night?...

Last night, Rita sat at the edge of the veranda feeding pellets to the kudus.  This photo so much bespeaks her love of wildlife.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
Mom and Babies arrived this morning to greet our guests.
Yesterday was the actual date of Rita's birthday and we've been committed to making her birthday as special as she is.  She and Gerhard had hosted Tom's birthday with an elaborate meal and decorations on December 23rd which we posted on December 24th at this link here.

Our original plan was to host her dinner party yesterday but with this horrible heat and humidity, we postponed it for tomorrow, Wednesday, when its supposed to be cooler.  We'll see about that!  
Tom at the end of the big table on the veranda.
Right now at 11:30 am, the humidity is outrageous and the four of us including visiting guests Linda and Ken, are situated on the veranda sweating up a storm.  Every so often I go into the kitchen to work on a recipe for tomorrow's dinner party, sweating all the more.

As of this moment, I have prepared one dish for tomorrow's dinner party, with six more dishes to prepare including salad, sides, and dessert but not including the three main dishes.  If it weren't so hot, this meal would be a breeze.
Ken and Linda at "happy hour" last night before we headed out to dinner.
Based on the fact Rita's birthday was yesterday, we wanted the evening to be special for her so we all decided to go out for dinner on Linda and Ken's first night here.

Most residents of Marloth Park don't drive to Komatipoort for dinner based on a history of car-jackings on the highway before Ngwenya.  But, with all the dining out we've done lately in Marloth Park, we suggested leaving Marloth Park to go to Tambarina in Komatipoort, a popular Portuguese dining establishment known for their prawns.
Gerhard conversing during the happy hour. 
It was a little risky especially when Zef, one of our two outstanding household helpers, was recently attacked at gunpoint on this same road but deftly defended himself with the spray from a hose of scalding hot water from the radiator in his vehicle.  He escaped with his life after spraying the perpetrator in the face with the boiling water while ending up with severe burns on his arm. 

We hesitated in driving the two cars necessary to carry all six of us but decided we'd all be extra diligent devising a plan on how we'd divert any potential criminals trying to get us to stop the car.
Rita's fillet and salad which she enjoyed at Tambarina last night for her birthday celebration.  
I had called ahead and made the reservation for six informing the staff it was Rita's birthday.  They made it special at the end of our meal by singing "the birthday song" and serving each of us a shot of pink marula (a local alcoholic beverage/liquor made from the fruit of the marula tree).  

Rita and I, both low carb, passed the marula shots on to our husbands for their pleasure.  By 2200 hours, (10:00 pm) we were on our way back to Marloth Park, relieved as we passed the security gate into the park, that we'd made it back without incident.
Tom's dinner of Beef Condon Bleu with rice and vegetables.
The night's sleep was fitful.  I awoke at 2:00 am and didn't go back to sleep until 4:00 am, dosing in and out until I finally got up, showered and dressed by 7:00 am, anxious to visit with our lovely long-time friends and houseguests, Linda and Ken.  
Gerhard's meal of fried calamari, baked potato, and vegetable.
Upon entering the living room from the comfort of the night's airconditioned room, I knew were we in for another scorcher.  Although today's temperature is only going to be 34.4C (94F) the humidity is running over 80%.  Brutal.  Absolutely brutal.

For this reason alone, we appreciate the fact that we'll be moving on in less than a month.  The rest, not so much. Departure day is looming before us and as we celebrate with the people and wildlife we love we know it won't be easy to say goodbye.
Linda, Ken and I each ordered the chicken stir fry which was prepared, each to our dietary needs.
Goodbye for today, dear readers, we'll be back tomorrow with more.

Photo from one year ago today, January 15, 2018:

Tom was thrilled to be seated in the comfortable big booth in the bar with me at the Prodeo Hotel in Buenos Aires, watching the live Minnesota Vikings playoff game.  For more details, please click here.

Busy last month in the bush...Wonderful friends...One month and counting...

She decided to look at her reflection in the glass of the little red car.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
Mom opted for a sitz bath on the steamy hot day.
Tom is inside the house watching the US football game playoffs, having the time of his life.  I'm outdoors on the veranda on a cooler but very humid cloudy day hoping it stays this way for a few more days for the upcoming cooking frenzy for Rita's birthday party on Wednesday.

Friends Linda and Ken are on their way here from Johannesburg and should be arriving sometime in the early afternoon.  Tonight, we'll have our first celebration for Rita's birthday at Tambarina Restaurant in Komatipoort.  The next few days will be quite busy but most certainly lots of fun.

My wonderful friends Linda and Kathy, (left to right) took me to lunch five years ago for my birthday.  
Kathy is planning a special "going away" day for me on February 5th,  a pedicure at a local resort with a spa with a lunch following.  Hopefully, Rita and Linda will join us for the "girl's day." 

This reminds me of five years ago when Kathy and Linda took me to lunch at a beautiful resort outside of Marloth Park to celebrate my upcoming birthday.  Here are the photos above and below and 
the link from that wonderful day.

No one was handy to take a photo of the three of us.  Linda and I had to suffice.  The Buhala Lodge was located on the Crocodile River.
And now, more fantastic memories are being made as our time in this magical place comes to an end, one month from today.  Its been such a joy for both of us to have the great friends we've made in Marloth Park, many over five years ago and others in this recent year which ends on February 14th when we head to Nelspruit for one night before our early morning flight to Nairobi, Kenya.

On Friday, February 8th, Kathy and Don will be hosting a going-away gathering at their house.  We had decided we wouldn't have time to host our own going away party (a tradition in the bush) before we depart with so much to handle and pack after spending a year here.
Last night, Wildebeest Willie and Mom and Babies got along well while eating pellets.
On our last Saturday night in the bush, we'll have a little get-together at Jabula for dinner, more time to celebrate friendships we've cherished in our extended period in Marloth Park.
Mom and Babies ate some pellets and some lucerne.
Oh, I don't mean to go on and on about how blessed we are to have such good friends.  But the reality remains when we leave here in one month, friendships and close relationships will be sparse once again.  Nomads, like us, don't have the luxury of making lasting relationships wherever we go.  
This is a female hornbill with red on her beak.
There simply isn't enough time in each country to cultivate the types of relationships that last a lifetime.  However, we've been fortunate to have made many lasting relationships with the wonderful people we've met as our landlords/property owners, and other passengers aboard a cruise.
She stops by and squawks at us for birdseed.  We always cooperate.
We recall our three months in Tuscany, Italy in 2013, while we lived in the little village of Boveglio.  No one spoke English.  In that three month period, we never shared a meal with anyone we met, although we were invited to a party, doing our best to communicate with the other guests.  
A blurry photo posted July 20, 2013, in Bovelgio, Italy.  Handing off the camera to a kindly gentleman to take our photo I must have accidentally changed to "out of focus background."  After the wonderful night we had, I couldn't resist posting the photos although they're all out of focus.  In the photo with us is Daniela at my left and Armenia at her left sitting on the steps.  For the link from that date, please click here.
There were numerous other countries in which we've lived, where we had little to no social interaction with locals, often based on language barriers.  None the less, in each of these instances, we still had a marvelous time together, depending on one another for idle conversation and friendship, a vital part of any relationship.

In a mere 84 days, we'll be back in Minnesota for 17 nights, hoping to be able to see many of the friends we'd made in a lifetime along with many beloved family members.  
This female hornbill often reminds us she is hungry.
But, then, we'll be on to new lands, new adventures and we'll carry all the great memories we made with us here in Marloth Park, looking forward to the time in the future when we'll return to see our friends once again.

We are grateful and as Tom always says, "Humbled and blessed," to experience this world around us, filled with amazing people, amazing scenery and of course, amazing wildlife, who by the way are stopping by more and more each day, as the holiday season in South Africa winds down.
The family enjoyed a few hours in our garden.
Plus, we never forget for a day all of our kind and thoughtful readers who touch our lives each and every day, knowing YOU are beside us all the way.  Thank you for sharing this life with us.

May your day be filled with the companionship and memories of good friends throughout your life.  Be well.  Be happy.

Photo from one year ago today, January 14, 2018:

To us, these stuffed pig intestines, "Chinchulin" were the least desirable items on the platter. at a local "cultural" restaurant in Buenos Aires.  Please see details and more photos here.

Upcoming week...A terrifying past experiences comes to mind...

One of several giraffes we spotted last night when dropping Rita and Gerhard back at the Hornbill house.  The partial moon is shown in the photo.
"Sighting of the Day in the Bush"
What are you looking at, Ms. Kudu?
There was an internet outage during the night and this morning but it was repaired and we're back on.  I certainly didn't want to miss posting again after my 36-hour illness when I was too ill to prepare a post.

I'm feeling much better today after somewhat of a sluggish day yesterday.  As always, last night we dined at Jabula with Rita and Gerhard for another excellent meal with enjoyable conversation and ambiance.

We often see people we know while there and the interaction between all of us is fun and uplifting.  Last night, we were particularly reminded of how little time is left until we'll be leaving Marloth Park in a mere 32 days.  We've begun to say our goodbyes.
Warthogs aren't interested in eating the fallen marula fruit.
Today, we're busy working on organizing things around the house for our upcoming house guests, Linda and Ken, who'll arrive tomorrow afternoon.  We've moved Rita's birthday party to Wednesday when its supposed to be cooler.  

It's simply too hot to cook right now.  Today will be almost 40C, (104F) once again, with awful humidity and forecasts for Monday and Tuesday don't look much better.  Of course, the weather could change between now an Wednesday but, we're committed to sticking with the newly planned date.
This mongoose is only interested in cracking this egg.
Last night, on the return drive from Jabula with Rita and Gerhard with us in the car, we spotted several giraffes near their house on Hornbill and also in their garden.  What a lovely sight to see in the evening!  Thus, the above main photo.

We had many amazing experiences at that house five years ago which prompted the balance of today's story about a scary event that occurred in January 2014.  
Sometimes it takes a little ingenuity to crack an egg, including banging it on the ground or a tree stump.
Please see below:
It was a little over five years ago as in January that Tom had the worst scare of his life.  We were seated on the veranda at the Hornbill house while both working on our laptops while watching for possible visiting wildlife.

The sightings had been excellent during the first month at the house and our expectations were high.  At that point in time, no wildlife encounters particularly scared us although we always remained diligent and cautious.  
When kudus and warthogs are in the garden, bushbucks don't have much chance of eating any pellets when they're easily scared off.  Tom holds the container of pellets for her to ensure she gets a few bites.
Suddenly we both heard a "plop' and began looking around to see what it possibly could have been.  In a serious tone, Tom said, "Get up slowly and move to your left!"

Curious that I am,  without giving it a thought, I quickly jerked to my right.  Bad move. Lying on the ground, a short distance from Tom's bare feet lay a snake...not a huge snake but a snake none the less.

We've since learned a bit about snakes after attending snake school last March, that size means nothing when it comes to venomous snakes. A huge snake can be relatively harmless and a small snake can be deadly.
I'll feed gentle Ms. Bushbuck from my hand, one of few instances in which we do so.
This scene transpired in a matter of seconds although it felt much longer.  Tom was seated in a chair, much closer to the snake while I was at the table a short distance from him.

The moment I realized what we had before us, I said, ''Get the camera!" This was and still is a normal response of mine.  
Handsome male impala in the park.
In a flash, we both saw the snake, staring at Tom, flaring his hood and instantly we knew it was some sort of cobra.  What type of cobra was it?  We didn't have a clue. 

(Anyone living or staying in Marloth Park for extended periods should attend snake school.  Had we known then what we know now, we would have responded differently). 

Later I realized how dangerous it was to be bending down to take photos after Tom had somehow managed to get it into a corner of the veranda next to a big stingy mop where it stayed until the snake handlers arrived 10 minutes after I'd made the call.
An ibis tucked away in the vegetation in the garden.
Click here for the balance of the story with several photos of the snake, albeit blurry from my shaking hands.

Tonight will be our first night on the veranda since last Wednesday and we're hoping to see many of our wildlife friends, now beginning to return after the long holiday season.

Have a wonderful Sunday, wherever you may be!

Photo from one year ago today, January 13, 2018:

We walked to another part of Buenos Aires that day, looking for a jeweler who could replace Tom's watch battery which we never found.  It took us over an hour to walk back to the Palermo district, the location of our hotel.  For more city photos, please click here.