The Hindu holiday continues…Friendly locals greetings us on a walk…A cultural experience…Safety…

This family was busy finishing this morning. The air was hazy from incense burning.

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

Fisherman returning from fishing all night and kid on a bike.

The sweet smell of incense permeates the air. The colorfully dressed locals greet us as we walk by. The elaborate decorations in the front yards, the music, the chanting and the non-stop sounds of roosters crowing made for an especially interesting walk this morning.

A lot of effort had gone into decorating homes, not unlike decorating for Christmas in other parts of the world.

There were twice as many festive lanterns and decorated shrines than we’d seen on yesterday’s walk and we could readily sense the celebration of this special holiday was in full bloom.

This religious service area was ready for the evening gathering.

As described in yesterday’s post, this is the holiday the Balinese Hindus, the majority of the population of Bali, are celebrating:

“Ganesh Chaturthi is a ten-day Hindu festival celebrated to honor the elephant-headed God Ganesha’s birthday. He is the younger son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Ganesha is known by 108 different names and is the Lord of arts and sciences and the deva of wisdom.”

These were newly placed last night or this morning.

How fortunate we feel to be here during these festivities. These gentle, kindly, peaceful people remind us of how the world could be, would be, with more citizens like them, with a commitment to honor their faith, their traditions, one another and their families, ensconced in a constant sense of harmony with the world.

When we asked Gede how the Hindu people relate to those of other faiths, he expressed enthusiastic assurance that peace and respect were forefront in their hearts and minds.

As we neared the end of the newly paved road, we saw this new decoration.

This is clearly illustrated to us as we tread upon their turf, strangers in their land, unfamiliar with their ways. Now, during our second two-month stay in Bali, we’re beginning to understand and embrace who these people are and the deep rooted principles that shape their often simple existence.

They are not violent people. It’s sad that in many countries there are those who defy the principles of centuries old philosophies of maintaining a stance of love, beauty and simplicity.

More decorations had been added over the past 24 hours.

We feel safe here. At times, at sunset, we may occasionally spot a shady looking character, meandering on the beach on foot or on a motorbike. We keep our doors locked and also find comfort in the fact that this small grouping of vacation homes has an all-night security guard on the premises who’s number we have readily available.

In Phuket, we noticed military police and security everywhere, even at the grocery store. Here in this remote area one seldom sees a police vehicle or any military presence. Of course, that doesn’t make this location exempt from crime. No place in the world can claim that unlikely status.

The umbrellas, the fabric cloths and hanging decoration create a beautiful scene.

In Denpasar, the capital city, there’s been a history of bombings along with a variety of terrorist attacks, not unlike in most large cities anywhere in the world. 

We’re often asked why we choose to live in remote areas, away from tourist venues, popular restaurants and sightseeing. The answer is simple for us since the beginning of our travels, next month coming up on four years. 

Offerings are placed in this cubicles as will be shown in more photos over the next few days.

We treasure our safety and well being. We prefer the quiet, easy existence of a life far removed from the hustle and bustle of city life. It bring us joy and happiness to live in close proximity to the locals, to learn their ways, wander through their neighborhoods somehow feeling we are a part of it all.

Today, as yesterday, the walk brought us a revered sense of appreciation for the people of Bali, in this quiet beach town, as they celebrate a special holiday.

We pray for the safety and well being of all our reader/friends all over the world.

May peace be with you.

Photo from one year ago today, September 7, 2015:

Pond view at the Cattana Wetlands near Cairns, Australia. Final expenses for our three months in Australia were posted one year ago today, here.

At long last, we have sunshine…Transportation…Safety…All new photos…

This morning’s sunny day.

Yesterday, we called Ratnesh to pick us up tomorrow at 11 am for a dual purpose; sightseeing earlier in the day, shopping after sightseeing. We’re excited to be getting out.

We’d hoped to get out on Tuesday, but on Monday, he called and canceled when he had a long-distance fare to Labasa, where another airport is located, a two hour drive each way from Savusavu.

When we first arrived, we offered to request his services for specific dates, and at times when it was most convenient for him with our schedule wide open. If he has a fare where he’ll make more than with us to various sites and the villages, we’ve encouraged him to take it.

View from our veranda to the three-unit vacation home as a part of this four-unit resort. The lawn guy is here today, mowing and trimming.

We hadn’t negotiated special rates with him when we arrived when the amounts he charges for trips to the village or for an hourly rate for sightseeing is so reasonable. As we’ve mentioned in the past, here are the costs of his services:

  • FJD $20, USD $9.39: Round trip to the village for shopping, dropping us off and picking us up when we call.  We add an additional FJD $10, USD $4.70 when he helps us carry our purchases to the house.
  • FJD $30, USD $14.09: Cost per hour for sightseeing. 

We’ve noticed when we do both, sightseeing and shopping on the same day, we’re charging for the trip to the village, plus the hourly travel rate. Ah, who’s to complain at these reasonable prices? If we’re gone for four hours at FJD $120, USD $56.35, it’s a very fair fare (no pun intended)!

When we recall paying for taxi fare in London in August 2014, when we visited the highly rated pub (Andover Arms) on two occasions, the round trip taxi fare was USD $50, GBP $32, FJD $106. In Fiji, that amount would give us almost four hours on the road!  

Colorful ocean view from our area.

Although four hours on the roads in Vanua Levu may sound exciting, on this remote island, it would be four hours of bumpy roads, dense greenery, and occasional ocean views, all of which we love and easily experience on shorter trips to specific destinations. We prefer aimlessly driving when we have a rental car, stopping as often as we’d like for photos and restroom breaks.

With the sun shining, we’re excited to get out more often, subject to the availability of the only driver in this village willing to tackle the steep road in this resort area. It would be impossible for us to walk down the long mountainous road. For mountain climbers and seriously fit hikers, it may not be a problem.

How easily we could feel trapped. But, long ago we decided, after realizing we’d need drivers in various countries, we accepted that there would be days we’d want to get out and weren’t able to do so, based on our driver’s availability. Sticking to the same driver or their designated co-driver has been important to us, particularly when safety has been an issue in several countries.

The bright blue of the bay is breathtaking from this elevation.

Upcoming in 46 days, when we fly to the next Fijian Island of Viti Levi, the larger main island, where we’ll stay for one more month, we’ll be renting a car at the Nadi Airport and driving two hours to our new location, again a private house. 

With high crime rates in the downtown Nadi area, when we booked Fiji long ago, we’d decided to stay in another more, remote location where the likelihood of crime is greatly reduced.

Many tourists stay in the Nadi area in resorts and hotels, generally insulated from criminal activities when on site. The risks for tourists escalates when out on the streets in the busy city, as we’ve been warned by the locals here who often travel to Nadi to visit family. Muggings, pickpocketing, and carjacking are not unusual.

Another ocean view from our area.

With our preferred choice of vacation homes as opposed to staying in hotels, we usually don’t have the safety net of on-site security as is often available in most hotels. Generally, one can feel relatively safe from crime in a hotel, although there are isolated exceptions.

Currently, we’re living in a resort but, in the only stand, alone vacation rental house on the property. Further up the hill behind us is a separate building with three apartments, including one penthouse type upscale unit on the top floor. Mario and Tayana’s private residence is off to the side as shown.

When Ratnesh picks us up, he pulls into the driveway of the three-unit building in this resort. The driveway near the steps down to our house below is too steep for stopping the vehicle, making getting in and out nearly impossible.

Junior is around during the day and Mario is on-site in his separate house to our left as we face the ocean. We feel totally safe and protected in this ideal location.

Criminal activity on this island of Vanua Levu is almost non-existent. When we’ve driven by the courthouse on several occasions, located on the edge of town, there are no cars in the parking lot. Most likely, they only open when they have a case. From what we hear, it’s a rare occasion.

Oceanfront view of Mario and Tatyana’s house, much larger than it appears in the photos.  We took this photo from the steep road.

The fact that we prefer living in smaller towns and villages in our travels has more to do with our lack of interest in crowds and the fact that we don’t shop other than for food and supplies as needed. We love the quaint charm and nature of small villages and the friendly, less harried lifestyle of their people. 

For the average tourist, staying in a more populous area in most countries provides endless opportunities to find that special item to bring back home, for oneself, and for gifts for family and friends. Also, easy access to restaurants is an important factor for tourists whereas, for us, it’s irrelevant.

Side view of Mario and Tatyana’s recently built house.

We don’t send our grandchildren trinkets from all over the world. Instead, we send gift cards or gifts that they’d like, not what we think they’d like from a foreign country. If we did, at this point, their bedrooms would be filled with useless touristy type items, eventually to be tossed away. 

Maybe we’re too practical in the minds of others. Then again, how practical is having no home, no stuff other than what fits into three suitcases, a duffel bag and a laptop bag and, changing countries and homes every few months or less?

Have a beautiful and meaningful day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 21, 2014:

We were entranced by this colorful Gold Dust Day Gecko, commonly seen in the Hawaiian Islands, particularly in Maui where we were living one year ago.  This gecko was located on the wall by the pool but, from time to time, we spotted them inside the condo, certainly no big deal. Generally, geckos are harmless if not annoying, leaving droplets of white poop and making peculiar noises. In Fiji, we see new gecko poop in the house every few days. For more details, please click here.

Laugh fest last night…Safety on other islands is different than in Kauai…

This Bird of Paradise is the best example we’ve seen of a bloom appearing to be a bird’s head.

Last night’s dinner party at Alice and Travis’ house with Louise and Steve was more fun than we ever could have imagined. The stories, the laughter, and the bantering back and forth was indescribable. All I know is that by the end of the evening our faces and bellies hurt from laughing so hard and so long.

I drove home. Tom, who rarely drinks alcohol had his fair share last night, and although I don’t drink for health reasons I too felt intoxicated from the great evening.

Thanks to reader Annie, this is Ixora.

How did we get so lucky to meet so many fabulous people? And how hard is it going to be to leave exactly three weeks from today? 

It’s funny how we never have trouble leaving a place. Instead, we find it difficult to leave living beings behind, both human and animal. 

This morning Birdie saw me wander into the kitchen while he sat atop his favorite tree. Immediately, he flew to the lanai railing and began singing his song as shown in this video (in case you missed it). For a more professional Northern Cardinal video presented by Cornell Labs, please click here.

Nature has a way of creating flawless symmetry as in this variety of Plumeria.

We’ll miss him and his significant other both of whom we’ve interacted several times each day. He’s our first sign of life each morning and last, just before dark as we dine at the table beside the sliding screen door. While we’re dining, he sings. How can we not miss this magical display of life, however tiny he and she maybe?

And the people? Ah, how can we not miss them? 

We’ve found that somehow we are able to build strong relationships with people we meet in our travels in relatively short periods of time. In our old lives, it seemed that building new friendships transpired over a period of years, not months.

The buds on flowers such as this Plumeria (often used for making leis) become beautiful in themselves.

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that many of those we meet are on the move like us in one way or another. Most of the friends we’ve made here in Kauai came from other locals for example Louise and Steve are originally from the UK.

Alice and Travis are from the state of Washington, having moved here permanently five years ago. This is the case with most people we meet. They, like us, came from somewhere else, longing for the lifestyle only Hawaii or similar island living has to offer.

Volcanic rock is also seen along the shore in some areas of Kauai.

As for future islands on our upcoming itinerary which includes both Fiji and Bali, we have few expectations that life on those islands will be comparable to living in Hawaii.

Some have mentioned that both Fiji and Bali can be rough in areas with political unrest, poverty, and strife. We never promised ourselves nor expected that everywhere we live will be easy or feel as luxurious as living in Princeville has been these past months.

As the tide rolls in the waves pound against the lava rocks.

We easily recall where we’ve lived in the past, in the heat and humidity with insects everywhere, crawling about our feet and buzzing about our heads. Last night, we mentioned that we’d lived outdoors in Kenya on the open (no screens) veranda for three months when there was no indoor living room, lounge, or salon.  here were two bedrooms, one bath, a small galley kitchen with a small hallway connecting them.

Each day the temperature was in the high 80’s to low 100’s with humidity so awful that the zippers on our luggage turned green. Tom used WD40 (Kenya’s version) to release the zippers each week to ensure they’d work when we left. 

From what I can determine online, this is a coot.  If any of our readers have any suggestions on this breed, please post a comment or send an email.

The flies and mosquitoes were rampant and every day I had to lather up with a DEET (below 30%), the only product that would keep me from being bit.  

The insects and the heat were equally bad in South Africa but, by the time we got to Marloth Park, we were accustomed to being outdoors all day. There, we had two living rooms inside the house and yet we stayed outdoors on the veranda (again no screens) all day amid the heat and insects, batting off the flies, keeping an eye out for snakes and poisonous things.

This is a hala plant. Please see this link for details.

After those total of six-month experiences during which neither of us whined or complained, we’re thinking that Fiji and Bali won’t be any more difficult and most likely will be somewhat easier. 

As for the political climate in both of these countries, the properties are located far from the busy cities where most of the danger lurks. Plus, in Fiji, we’ll be living in a resort with managers and security on the premises. In Bali, we’ll have a house staff on the premises. Both scenarios put our minds at ease.

There are many bath and candle shops throughout the islands comparable to this shop in Kilauea. With the scent of flowers blooming year-round, it’s not surprising that many small businesses are centered around scented soaps and candles.

Worry?  No, we’re not worried. We’ve come to accept that there is no place in the world that is entirely safe from crime, natural disasters, and political unrest. We’d only need to watch the US news in the past week, months, or years to realize that nowhere is entirely safe.

We can’t live this life in fear of what could happen. We choose to live this life in love with each other, in love with what we see in front of us; the people, the wildlife, and the beauty. 

The former movie theatre in Kilauea is now a church offering free lunches every Sunday after the service.

That, dear readers, drives us on with the hope and the passion for an extraordinary and safe experience anywhere in the world we find ourselves.

Tonight is our final Full Moon Party to be held at the Makai Golf Course pool house.  Today, I’ll make our pu pu to bring, Hawaiian flavored chicken wings (a few without the sauce for me), and off we’ll go to yet another fun evening on the island. We love island living. Stay tuned. Much more to come.

                                               Photo from one year ago today, May 2, 2014:

In the Medina, aka the Big Square in Marrakech, vendors would often neatly place their products on the ground on a blanket expecting passersby to negotiate. Within a short period, this display would turn into a messy pile as the vendors were busy selling the item. At this time, one year ago, we were less than two weeks from leaving Morocco, chomping at the bit to be back on the move. For details, please click here.

Security loaded on the ship while out to sea…Gulf of Aden, here we come…

Tonight we enter the Gulf of Aden.

Yesterday morning as we were reminded of yet another time change to be effective at 11:30 am, our Captain Fleming announced that a boat would be coming to ship around 4:00 PM to drop off “security equipment” for our upcoming remaining three days through the Gulf of Aden.

Tom was determined to see this event occur as was I.  Watching the clock throughout the day, we were pleased when the Captain’s voice sounded over the loudspeaker as he explained that the boat would be arriving soon and the ship would be slowed down accordingly.

It’s helpful for worried passengers to be alerted to such events.  Captain Fleming has been conscientious about making such announcements in an effort to diminish fear and its resulting rumors.  For us, we wanted to see this firsthand in order to take photos. 

Our view at the bow of the ship as the “security boat: approached.

Unsure which side of the ship the “security boat” would deliver the “security equipment” we headed for the bow of the ship where there is row of viewing windows to the bridge. If we watched the officers in the command area, we’d be able to see which direction they were looking through their binoculars.

Peering into the bridge, we had a clear view of the blue radar screens, noting three objects, one on the port side forward, and two on the starboard side forward.  Wondering which would be the delivering boat, we waited patiently while Tom, using his trusty Swarovski binoculars kept a lookout.

Around 3:30 PM, we saw the delivery boat approaching our ship approaching dead ahead, to finally veer to the port side.  We were on the move!  We wanted to get as close as possible and yet not so close that we couldn’t get a good shot.

Each of us had a camera, old and new, in our hands.  Much to my frustration and unbeknown to me, one of the settings on the new camera we had changed in error, preventing me from getting any good shots.  Luckily, Tom had the old camera and was able to take the photos we’ve posted today.

As crew members hung onto the “security boat,” two uniformed soldiers got on board our ship, each carrying two large black cases as shown in the photos. Captain Fleming had referred to these black rectangular boxes as “security supplies.”  Duh?

When asking an officer about the contents of these black boxes, it was obvious to us that his response was rehearsed, “Oh, those are night goggles, binoculars and such.”  Why wouldn’t a large ship such as ours, Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas, keep night goggles on board along with all their other such equipment?  Why were two soldiers dropped off?  To use night goggles?  Hardly.

The “security boat” as he approached our ship.

We’re assuming that the ship staff, in an attempt to avoid fear and panic, have been instructed to report the contents of the black cases contained “security equipment.”  We understand their reasons to lie to us and in essence, respect it. 

After a hysterical time at dinner last night at a table for eight with non-stop laughing, we meandered back to our cabin, smiles on our faces from yet another enjoyable evening at a “shared” table.  One couple was from Australia, another from England and a third from Florida, whom we’ve made plans to meet up with again tonight.

When we returned to our cabin around 10:30 pm, our room darkened as instructed, drapes tightly pulled, we settled into bed.  Minutes after dosing off, I awakened to a sensation of a bright light filtering through the crack in the drapes.

As the boat took off, after unloading the two security personnel and the black boxes.
Awakening Tom, he bolted out of bed, running to the window to peek out. Seeing the light, he cautiously opened the balcony door only to discover that the cabin next to us had not followed security protocol by having their drapes wide open and lights turned on.

What’s with people?  It was a simple requirement, easy to follow, affecting the safety of everyone on board.  It’s the same mentality of guests who become ill while cruising and don’t bother to stay in their cabins during the infectious period, infecting everything they touch resulting in the illness of many others.

This morning at 8:00 am, after our good night’s sleep, Captain Fleming’s voice once again blared on the loudspeakers, thanking us all for our cooperation, reporting a safe uneventful night. 

After the boat departed, we found our way to an observation deck and shot this photo of the pool area, as it thinned out in the late afternoon.  (This shot was taken after I figured out the incorrect setting on the new camera.  Bear with us, as we learn to each use it properly).

Hopefully, expectantly and most likely, we’ll hear such announcements each morning as we continue on our journey to Dubai, to arrive next Tuesday.

We’ll keep you updated as we continue on and on, and on.

Eight lions spotted in our area…Guess I won’t be going for a walk…Today is our 28th wedding anniversary…

May be an image of map
We are located in Block D, where eight lions were spotted in the past 24 hours.

Note: Sorry, we have no new photos. Due to the black worms on the veranda, I haven’t taken any photos in the past few days.

The following notice was posted last night on Facebook’s “Marloth Park Sighting Page.”

6th- 7th March 2023
The Carnivore Team has released an URGENT WARNING that eight lions have been spotted in the “D” SECTOR OF THE ATTACHED MAP! They are now moving between the houses.
The immediate alert is for BLOCK “D,” “E,” AND “F” as per the attached map. For those who are not familiar with Marloth, BLOCK “D” IS FROM RENOSTER, KINGFISHER, SEEKOEI, SWARTWITPENS, RATEL UP TO OLIFANT, BLOCK “E” IS FROM SEKELBOS, OLIFANT UP TO LUIPERD AND BLOCK “F” FROM RATEL, SWARTWITPENS, SEEKOEI, SOENIE UP TO OLIFANT! A follow-up alert will be supplied if they move out of these areas!
EVERYBODY needs to be extremely cautious, and an urgent alert for joggers, hikers, and cyclists in the morning and afternoon! Be extra careful at night, as the LIONS are a more significant threat in the dark! If you are having a braai, sit with your backs to a wall and keep the lights on!
Please do not allow children to roam around or play unsupervised – period! The lions could be extremely dangerous, especially where kids are concerned!😳
This an urgent alert for joggers, hikers, and cyclists along these areas throughout the day!
Unfortunately, the warnings are not taken seriously! The onus is on each and every one to adhere to the alerts and warn others of the dangers.
PLEASE DO NOT POST ANY CARNIVORE SIGHTING POSITIONS ON ANY SOCIAL MEDIA GROUPS FOR SAFETY REASONS! Rather contact any one of the Carnivore Team if you spot the lions, phone any of the following numbers at ANY TIME:
Rangers 082 802 5894
CPF/ Nadine 082 672 4545 Gerrie Camacho 082 353 9097,
Ernst Röhm /MTPA 083 626 6309,
April Lukhele: 082 807 1057. Jan Koekemoer 063 053 7601.
Thank you for your cooperation and understanding – Carnivore Team, Rangers, MTPA, CPF, Security, and the Vet.
Wow!. Eight lions! It certainly would be exciting to see them, but they hunt, mostly at night, and it’s too dangerous to be outdoors looking for them. Occasionally, we hear a muffled roar, but like most lions, they don’t make a lot of noise while hunting. Lions roar as follows from this site:
“Lions will use their roar to ward off potential intruders and/or protect their territory and pride. Sometimes they’ll even roar to talk with other lions, and their roars can reach up to 114 decibels—the same noise level as a chainsaw or snowmobile.
Still, only big cats, such as lions, leopards, tigers, and jaguars, can roar. This is due to their large vocal folds, which form a square shape allowing large vocal vibrations at less lung pressure, resulting in a monstrous sound that resonates for miles. 

Roaring isn’t the only way that lions communicate, either. They often make a “scratch pile” with their urine or claw trees as additional ways to mark their territory and keep a distance from other lion prides. Physical features, including the darkness of a male lion’s mane, are another way of displaying their abilities to others—generally, the older the lion, the darker the mane. However, a particularly thick, dark mane indicates an incredibly healthy and well-fed​​lion —and not an animal you’d want to mess with. 

Lions may growl, moan, groan, huff and puff, and emit gurgling growls that resemble purring because, unlike traditional purrs—which are continuous—the vibratory sounds that lions produce are only evident when they exhale. Lions also show affection to one another through actions like nuzzling and head rubbing.”

Another school holiday season is upon us soon, when more and more holidaymakers will arrive to enjoy the wonders of the bush. We hope that property managers and owners will inform the guests about the lions since we often see families walking on dirt roads at dusk when the lions begin their nightly hunt. That’s not to say the lions aren’t out wandering the bush during the day. They’ve been spotted during daylight hours on countless occasions.

Of course, we don’t like the holiday seasons due to added traffic, noise, and fewer animals coming to our garden. When the wildlife gets a taste of chips, sweets, and human foods unfit for their consumption, they prefer to visit them than come to our “healthy garden” of fruit, vegetables, and pellets. Wild animals don’t have the digestive systems to digest crisps, chips, pasta, and cookies easily. These types of foods can make them ill or even shorten their lifespan. Hmmm…it’s not a lot different for humans, is it?

Here’s the school holiday schedule for 2023:

“South African school holiday dates in 2023

  • First term break: 25 March – 11 April 2023
  • Second term break: 24 June – 18 July 2023
  • Third term break: 30 September – 10 October 2023
  • Fourth term break: 14 December 2023 – 17 January 2024″

I am thinking of you today and always with love and appreciation for our beautiful lives together. Happy Anniversary, Lover. Today is our 28th wedding anniversary. We will celebrate when Tom returns. If you are reading this from halfway around the globe…

Actually, our travel anniversary holds more significance for us since it was the beginning of a new life and a new world for the two of us that has given us more joy than we’d ever imagined we’d have in our senior years. We are very grateful for it all and for each other. I didn’t need him to be gone to realize this. I’ve known it every day.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 7, 2022:

Bossy makes sure we see she is here for a visit. “Pellets, please!” For more photos, please click here.

More lion warnings in Marloth Park…See the site map where they’ve been spotted!…Big storm last night!…

We are located in Block D, as indicated on this map. Currently, the lions were spotted in Blocks C and D in Marloth Park.
This morning, this notice was posted on Facebook on the Marloth Park Sighting Page.
16th-17th December 2022
The Carnivore Team has released an URGENT WARNING that a lioness has been spotted in THE “C” SECTOR, and a male lion has been spotted in THE “D” SECTOR OF THE ATTACHED MAP. They are moving between the houses, and everyone should be extremely careful and vigilant!
The immediate alert is for BLOCK “C AND D” as per the attached map. For those unfamiliar with Marloth, BLOCK “C” IS FROM RENOSTER, OLIFANT, VOLSTRUIS, CROCODILE NORTH, AND MODDERVIS. BLOCK “D” IS FROM SWARTWITPENS/RATEL, RENOSTER, KINGFISHER/SEEKOEI AND OLIFANT! A follow-up alert will be supplied if they move out of these areas!
EVERYBODY needs to be extremely cautious and an urgent alert for joggers, hikers, and cyclists in the morning and afternoon! Be extra careful at night as the lions are a bigger threat in the dark! If you are having a braai, sit with your backs to a wall and keep the lights on!
PLEASE do not allow children to roam around or play unsupervised – period! The lions could appear anywhere in Marloth Park! 😳
This an urgent alert for joggers, hikers, and cyclists along these areas throughout the day!
Unfortunately, the warnings are not taken seriously! Don’t go looking for lions because the lions will find you! The onus is on each and every one to adhere to the alerts and warn others of the dangers.
PLEASE DO NOT POST ANY LION-SIGHTING POSITIONS ON ANY SOCIAL MEDIA GROUPS FOR SAFETY REASONS! Rather contact any one of the Carnivore Team if you spot the lions! Phone any of the following numbers at ANY TIME:
Rangers 082 802 5894
CPF/ Nadine 082 672 4545 Gerrie Camacho 082 353 9097,
Ernst Röhm /MTPA 083 626 6309,
April Lukhele: 082 807 1057. Jan Koekemoer 063 053 7601.
Thank you for your cooperation and understanding – Carnivore Team, Rangers, MTPA, CPF, Security, and the Vet.”
We take these warnings seriously, almost posted daily, of the presence of both male and female lions in the park. You’d think we’d be terrified, but we aren’t. We do everything we can to stay safe including avoiding walking on the roads and wandering about at night.
When we go out to dinner at Jabula on Friday and Saturday nights, we park as close to the building as possible and proceed to the car with extreme caution in mind, watching for lions and snakes, each of which is more active at night. Living in the bush requires diligent observation at all times and during all seasons.
We can only hope and pray that the countless visitors in Marloth Park heed the warnings on Facebook and from their property owners and managers. This is serious stuff, folks. We’ve seen many visitors walking and biking on the road by our house at dusk. This is foolhardy and dangerous!
Last night, a storm rolled over the area with winds, heavy rain, thunder, and lightning. We thought we’d lose power, but it only went off and on a few times when it wasn’t due to load shedding. The WiFi went off and on while we were trying to stream the last few episodes of Yellowstone, which we’re thoroughly enjoying. Love that show!
Today is a low-key day. When load shedding ends after 11:00 am, I plan to do a few loads of laundry, which will take a few days to dry with this humidity. Tom only has one pair of shorts left, all of the others were in our missing bags, which he’s wearing now on this hot day. Soon, he’ll have to change into long pants so I can wash the pair he’s wearing.
On December 19, 25 days will have passed per the requirement of Ethiopian Air for us to file a claim for our missing bags. On Monday, we will get to work filing the claims necessary to recover part of the value of the missing items. I can’t tell you how many missing things we used before the bags were lost. It’s frustrating, to say the least.
I just received a notice from Eskom that we’re now back to Stage 6 load shedding, which results in 11½ hours a day without power. Ugh! It will be a long and hot holiday season.
Continue to enjoy your holiday preparations, whatever they may be.
Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 16, 2021:

Open-mouth crocodile on the bank of the Sabie River. Crocs don’t have sweat glands. Instead, they open their mouths to cool off. For more photos, please click here.

One day and we’re off!…We’re busy getting ready…Male lion warnings!…

This Big Daddy visited early this morning, wondering why he didn’t see us yet. Too early for us!

Last evening, we had intended to visit Louise and Danie for sundowners before taking off on our Thursday trip. When we returned from our pedicure appointments, there was a message from Louise on Whatsapp stating that Danie had come down with the flu overnight. It made no sense to expose ourselves to germs with this upcoming trip.

We appreciated her letting us know. She’d insisted on stopping by before dinnertime to drop off a special treat she’d made for our intended visit. We certainly didn’t want to take any risks, especially since I am already working on recovering from this long-term acute sinusitis.

Wearing a face mask, Louise approached the veranda’s railing, handing off a warm pan of prawn skewers and a fabulous dipping sauce. I’d already prepped a dish and a salad for dinner but decided the prawns would be perfect for tonight, our last night before leaving. We only chatted for a few minutes, and then she was on her way.

Since Tom’s not a big fan of seafood, except lobster, Oysters, Rockefeller, and escargot (which he likes to eat on cruises ships), we could take a few pork chops out of the freezer for him while I eat the prawns tonight. Of course, last night, I couldn’t resist eating a few of the skewers; they were delicious.

Last evening, there were many insects on the veranda, so we decided to eat at the dining room table with the doors closed. Four zebras stopped for remnants of the day’s pellets during that time.

This morning, I prepped Tom’s pork chops after they defrosted overnight in the fridge, made a big salad, and got Tom’s rice ready to cook when we put the chops on the braai. I’ll quickly reheat the prawn skewers and enjoy them with the sauce and the salad on the side.

Tom just returned from Daisy’s Den, where Tracy is a seamstress. Tom left this morning to pick up a pair of jeans. I had  Tracy cut off to hem for long shorts. Over the past few years, I wore that pair of jeans so often, I wore holes in the knees. There was no way I’d wear jeans with holes in the knees. Although it’s cute for young people to wear jeans with holes, I don’t find it attractive on older individuals.

I need to get over myself about the scars from the heart surgery. Since I don’t own a pair of shorts, all of which I’d tossed a few years ago with all the scars on my legs from the surgeries, I knew this tropical trip would require at least one pair of shorts to wear when we go out to the islands on our upcoming Seychelle cruise. This is a step in the right direction.

I’m even bringing the one swimsuit I own. But, the antibiotics I am on, specifically state to avoid the sun due to a high risk of sunburn. Since neither of us has tanned for so long, we must be cautious. We’re bringing organic sunscreen with an SPF of 30, which should serve us well. The cruise line requires all sunscreen, shampoo, and conditioners to be environmentally safe for coral reefs. Fortunately, we were able to find such products at Takealot.

Tom didn’t get outside until around 7:00 this morning and missed this handsome visitor.

On another note, warnings about lions in Marloth Park are posted on Facebook a few times daily. There are two males on the hunt. “And another warning! Here is today’s warning:

November 23, 2022
The Carnivore Team has released a VERY URGENT WARNING that two substantial male lions are on the move and hunting! They are active and moving fast between Gate 1, East of Olifant and Oribi! The situation is extremely dangerous, and the status could change anytime, so PLEASE be vigilant!
If you encounter the lions, please get in touch with the Carnivore Team! DONT POST IT ON SOCIAL MEDIA for safety reasons!
The Carnivore Team and Security are patrolling and monitoring the areas and situation and will report any variances for safety reasons!
Everybody needs to be highly cautious, especially if you are having a braai outside tonight; make sure the area is well-lit and sit with your backs to the wall!
This an urgent alert for joggers, hikers, and cyclists along these areas throughout the day!
Please do not allow children alone in these areas, period – as the lion could be hiding anywhere! 😳
Unfortunately, the warnings are not taken seriously, but the onus is on everyone to adhere to the alerts and warn others of the dangers.
Should you spot any lions, please get in touch with one of the following persons at all hours:
Rangers 082 802 5894
CPF/ Nadine 082 672 4545 Gerrie Camacho 082 353 9097,
Ernst Röhm /MTPA 083 626 6309,
April Lukhele: 082 807 1057. Jan Koekemoer 063 053 7601.
Thank you for your cooperation and understanding – Carnivore Team, Rangers, MTPA, CPF, Security, and the Vet.”
We can only hope that visitors and locals will heed these warnings and be diligent when outdoors, whether near their braai, bonfire, walking, or biking on the roads and to and from their vehicles when out to dinner, bars, and shops. We’ve heard several stories from locals who’ve seen the lions and heard the roar of these lions but, as yet, we have not. We are very careful.
That’s it for today, folks. We’ll be back with a post tomorrow as we prepare to head out the door by 3:00 pm, 1500 hrs., for our 6:30 pm, 1830 hrs. flight from Nelspruit to Joburg.
Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, November 23, 2021:

An Egyptian goose was fluffing her feathers while on an island on the Crocodile River. For more photos, please click here.

Holiday party tonight…Five lions need to go…

We’d hope for a better photo of the ostrich family, but dad, mom, and chicks hurried across the road, leaving little time to get good photos.

Commonly, social events are planned at the last minute in Marloth Park. It makes sense to plan social events last minute with frequent power outages, water outages (we had a 24-hour water outage this week), and unpredictable inclement weather. Thus, tonight we are attending a sundowner party with starters instead of a full dinner, which is hard to do in this heat.

Plus, it makes sense for all guests to bring a dish to share, which we’ll prepare today to get to the 6:00 pm, 1800 hrs event. Since we usually have dinner around that time, today we’ll have a late breakfast of bacon and eggs that will hold us. I ended up canceling tonight’s dinner at Jabula with a reservation for tomorrow night, Saturday, instead.

If we don’t feel like cooking on Sunday, we may go back to Jabula for another dinner. We’re running low on groceries and plan to head to Komatipoort early next week. The small freezer is still reasonably full, but the refrigerator section is practically bare.

Dad proudly strutted across the road with his four huge chicks and mom trailing behind.

At the moment, at 11:00 am, It’s already 90F, 32C with high humidity. We’re sitting outdoors on the veranda while sweating profusely. Zef and Vusi are here cleaning the house. We don’t envy them for their hard work in cleaning Louise’s many rentals as more and more visitors come to the park for the holiday season.

Last night, there was a notice on Facebook about residents and tourists assisting rangers and animal wardens in locating the FIVE lions sighted in Marloth Park. Apparently, for their safety and ours, they must be captured and removed from Marloth Park. Here is a newspaper article about the lions entering Marloth Park:

Here is the post we read on Facebook last night from a Marloth Park group:

“Gerrie Camacho, the MTPA Carnivore Scientist, requests the help, assistance, and cooperation of everybody in Marloth Park to aid in the capture of the lions as fast as possible. The capturing and removal of the lions are extremely difficult due to the number of people in Marloth and the strategic planning of the ground crews and the on-site vet, whose time is precious! Unfortunately, the lions have to be removed as per the rules, law, and general safety of everybody! It is also in the best interest of the lions as they need to be captured alive and removed!
PLEASE everybody let’s help the team with any sightings to immediately contact Nadine, Security, the Rangers, or myself so that we don’t waste any time. We will be kept in the loop as far as what happens after their safe capture and removal.
Once again, we ask everyone, including Lodge owners, guests, clients, visitors, and permanent residents, to report ANY sightings of the lions as soon as possible!
CPF, Security, Carnivore team, MTPA, and Rangers.”
We spotted several other giraffes, but they were hidden in the dense vegetation.
Many members of various Facebook groups have stated, “Let the lions stay!”
We understand some locals desire to keep the lions in the park. They offer added excitement and adventure and may be instrumental in reducing night break-ins which are rampant right now.
But we also see why it’s essential to remove the lions with the busy holiday season upon us. Many visitors have no regard for curfews and often let their kids walk and ride bikes on the roads and along the river. No one wants to tarnish the beauty and wonder of Marloth Park with an adult or child being attacked by a lion.
Also, if such a horrific event transpired, the lions may have to be euthanized. They are here just doing what they do in their natural habitat, hunt and kill, which while in Kruger or another national park, is generally safe for them. After all, they are at the top of the pecking order, “The King  or Queen of the Jungle.”
Yesterday, we took a short drive to where they’d last been spotted. But seeing them during daylight hours is comparable to finding a needle in a haystack. Many others have driven around the park looking for them but spotting them is more of a fluke than anything. They are elusive and cautious.
A few days ago, we posted by Melissa, who stumbled upon them, able to capture several photos. You may see her photos here at this link.
That’s it for today, folks. We’ll be back with more tomorrow, hopefully with some photos from tonight’s party. See you then!
Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, December 10, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #262. A boulevard scene in Arica, Chile. For more photos, please click here.

No water, day 2…

Wildebeest Willie, our most regular wildebeest visitor.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 11 warthogs – inc. Fred, and Ethyl, Tiny and Little, Benny, Henny, Lenny, and Penny
  • 6 bushbucks – inc. Chewy and Thick Neck
  • 1 wildebeest – Broken Horn
  • 8 kudus – inc. 1 Medium Daddy, 1 mom, and baby, Bossy and Notches
  • 6 hornbills
  • Frank and The Misses

It’s not surprising to us that we don’t have water. It’s either no electricity issues due to downed power lines, load shedding, or no WiFi when the power is out, or a tower is damaged, and now, no water. Not a trickle. We don’t fuss over this. There’s nothing to be accomplished in doing so.

Warthogs in a scuffle over pellets.

Last night, we put our dirty dishes in the dishwasher after carefully scraping the plates. Then, we brought in a big bucket of pool water to flush the toilet. This morning, I warmed up bottled water from the water machine in the microwave to take a “sponge bath.” Tom made for the big spouted pitcher. We have plenty of bottled drinking water, ice cubes, and ice tea.

This morning, Louise sent the following message:

“[05/31, 08:05] Denis Gofinet: The water tanker will be at Marlothi Shopping at 09:00 this morning. You can fill up your containers. Waiting for an update on the Eskom repair. We will keep you posted. [05/31, 08:06] Denis Gofinet: Message from the Muni: Hectorspruit, the treatment plant, is pumping currently. Marloth Park is still not pumping. I believe Eskom is still busy replacing stolen components. We have also arranged for a water tanker to assist Marloth park with some water until Eskom has completed their work and the Marloth plant is running. Thanks.”

Mom and her two babies.

We do not need to fill up containers from the water tanker, which is certainly not intended for drinking or bathing. The cleanliness of that water could easily be questionable. Many locals have adapted to the local water over the years and won’t get sick from drinking it. For us, that’s not the case. We take no chances.

Based on Louise’s above message, the entire water issue results from the theft of various components Eskom, the electric company, used to run the pumps. This is not unusual in South Africa. Crime is rampant, and this part of the country is no exception. However, corruption is considerably less prevalent in Marloth Park than, let’s say, in Johannesburg, Pretoria,  Cape Town, Durban, or other big cities.

It seems as if we have a lot of warthogs right now. But, as winter approaches, there will be more and more other species coming to the garden.

This little haven in the bush does provide an element of safety compared to many other areas. We are very grateful for this, yet we’re always “on-guard,” utilizing our security system, keeping doors locked day and night, and keeping out a watchful eye.

When we spend time outdoors on the veranda, as we’re doing now as I write this, we bring all of our equipment indoors if we so much as go to the bathroom or to get a glass of ice tea. There have been countless cases of residents leaving their laptops and phones on their veranda table, only to wander indoors for a few minutes, to return and find their equipment is gone.

Two wildebeest, Willie, and Willard snacking on pellets.

Each week, there are burglaries of TVs, digital equipment, and household goods of any value. Weekly, we see the reports on Facebook. So when Tom leaves me alone at the house, I stay indoors, lock the doors and set the alarm. Fortunately, the local security company responds quickly when an alarm goes off.

Yesterday, when we uploaded the post, we had water. An hour later, we did not. So, continuing today on Day 2, we are without water. It could be a few more days or longer until it’s restored. In the interim, we are fine. I am still recovering with considerable improvement daily. I should be able to go to the river with Rita and Gerhard tomorrow afternoon, but at this point, we’re playing it by ear.

Crooked Face, a unique and handsome devil.

Today, it’s cool and cloudy. We are still wearing sweatshirts with long pants. Tonight, we’ll hunker down for a nice steak dinner cooked on the braai. We have power. We have WiFi. We’re content.

Be content and healthy!

Photo from one year ago today, May 31, 2020:

In Abu Dhabi in UAE. This looks similar to an ATM, but it’s actually a gold dispensing machine, not an ATM. For more photos, please click here.

It’s been a long and hard year for all of us…

The mongoose went on a frenzy taking the whole eggs out of the pan, cracking them on rocks, and eating the contents.

It’s easy to sit here in relative bliss in the bush, reveling in the endless treasures Mother Nature doles out day after day, combined with a pleasing social life, financial stability, and hopefully, improving good health. Tom takes no prescription medication and I’m down to two little tablets a day plus a baby aspirin and a small handful of supplements recommended as useful during the pandemic.

There’s little reason for us to worry or feel stressed. Sure, we’re concerned about the safety of leaving for Kenya in a mere 13 days and if we’ll be able to continue to avoid contracting Covid during the upcoming travel days and proximity to others on game drives.

Sure, we’re thinking about how we’ll be able to be vaccinated when more and more travel venues are requiring vaccinations to be able to cruise, fly, and use other means of transportation. But, this type of concern is no different from the concerns of many who are anxious to get back out there and travel once again. It’s been a hard year for all of us.

This morning’s mongoose mania in the garden. Tiny is in the background. He wasn’t thrilled to see the mongoose and headed out into the bush and waited for them to eventually leave.

When we look back at the past year, which is hard to avoid, my heart is heavy over the loss of my dear sister Susan in August 2020, with whom I shared a lifetime bond that was precious and meaningful. Through all these years of world travel, we spoke frequently, often every week, sharing stories, laughing, and dreaming for the future. I miss her.

Three other family members contracted Covid-19 and their recovery was frightening and worrisome. My other sister Julie still suffers from “long-haul” Covid symptoms. No doubt, many of you have lost loved ones and friends during the pandemic, leaving each of us saddened and heartbroken over the ravages of this relentless virus.

During that 10 months in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, it was easy to let my mind play tricks on me when even the slightest pain or discomfort made me concerned about how I’d be able to see a doctor with the poor conditions in India. It wasn’t safe to go out when doctors weren’t seeing patients, other than those with Covid in special facilities, often in a makeshift parking lot or tented areas.

The mongooses also like to drink out of the birdbath’s lower section. It’s comforting to be providing clean water for our visitors.

Most heart surgery patients are particularly sensitive about a moment of chest pain, breathlessness, or other potential heart attack or stroke symptoms. I’m no exception. It only takes a slight case of indigestion to make us worry it’s something more. Even at times, when Tom had an ache or pain, we wondered what we’d do, if seeing a doctor was necessary. Need I say, these situations were stressful.

The thought that I had an abscessed tooth weighed heavily on me during that period, wondering how serious it could get if left untreated for too long. As it turned out, as mentioned in a prior post, it wasn’t an abscess. It was a sinus infection or allergy as determined by a recent visit to a well-regarded oral surgeon in Malelane.

Then, there was the worry during the first five or six months that the hotel would close and we’d have nowhere to go. When our supplies ran low, we ordered a package of items from the US, which we couldn’t buy in India, only to spend months attempting to get the package delivered to us at the hotel, via FedEx.

The mongoose quickly gathered around the pan of whole eggs Tom placed on the ground. Also, we give them scraps of meat and fat since they are omnivores.

It was a nightmare when India had endless requirements with complicated forms and documents to complete in order to receive a package. It was a source of worry for months and especially, more so when we had to pay almost US $300, ZAR 4499, in customs fees.

Without a doubt, the circumstances could have been much worse. However, we humans may think that a situation could be more challenging, but find ourselves caught up in the situation at hand. It doesn’t help a person who’s broken their leg to say, “Well, you could have lost your leg.” It’s no different if someone said to me, “Get over the bites that itch all night long and keep you awake. You could have been bitten by a snake.” Everything is relative.

When we think of all the people who’ve lost their jobs, their businesses, their financial security, their lives, and the lives of their loved ones, we are saddened. None of us have been untouched by this in one way or another. These are difficult times.

This Mr. Bushbuck has longer horns than some males.

Today, not necessarily a special day, we reflect on the past year and celebrate the abundance and fulfillment we’re experiencing now. But, we’ll never forget this past year, nor should we. It’s a frame of reference that will always remind us to be grateful for what we have and how we’ve come out on the other side.

No, it’s not over yet, and the future is uncertain and frightening at times, but we carry on with hope in our hearts and optimism for the future.

Be well. Be safe.

Photo from one year ago today, March 26, 2020:

When I originally took this photo of Tom’s dinner a few weeks earlier, he said, “Don’t post that. It looks disgusting.” Later, in lockdown in Mumbai, it starting to look appetizing to both of us. For more, please click here.