Today is our wedding anniversary…We’re celebrating with the animals…Off to Kruger National Park…

Bossy makes sure we see she is here for a visit.

Today is our 27th wedding anniversary, and we’re off to Kruger for a self-drive safari. When we arrive in Lower Sabie, we’ll have lunch at the Mugg & Bean Restaurant overlooking the Sabie River, hoping to see Cape buffalos, hippos, crocs, and more.

Sometimes a trip to Kruger proves to be uneventful. We hope to spot elephants on the long drive, and if we experience “safari luck,” we might encounter big cats and other exciting species. If we see a lot, we are grateful and excited beyond words. We are always prepared for that eventuality and take it with a grain of salt.

Yesterday, we grocery shopped for what may be the last time before we leave South Africa in a mere 16 days. If we run low on groceries, we can always dine out or make a run to the local meat market and the little shop for a night’s meal. At this point, we are trying to use up as much as we have on hand as possible as the days wind down.

I am working hard to get in as much of my walking as possible before leaving. I hope to have half of my usual goal accomplished before heading out the door soon. If we return by 2:00 pm, 1400 hrs, I’ll be able to finish the other half before dinner. I already prepped everything for tonight’s dinner except the salad I’ll make when we return.

We’d dined out twice in the past five days, and after lunch at Mugg & Bean, we thought dinner at home would be fine. We’re having bacon-wrapped filet mignon, fresh green beans, and salad, with rice for Tom. It will be a perfect way to celebrate our special day.

Off we go! We will be back tomorrow with photos from Kruger National Park.

Have a happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, March 7, 2021:

We waited quite a while to pick up their heads for a photo, but they were preoccupied. For more photos, please click here.

Birthday festivities have ended…Back to pleasure in the bush with friends and animals…

Today is a busy day, so I’ll need to hurry through today’s post and be on my way. At 11:30 am, Rita is picking me up, and we’re heading to Malalane for her chiropractic appointment, and then we’ll head to lunch at a popular restaurant, The Deck. I can’t remember the last time I attended a “girl’s lunch” although I’ve had several “girl’s breakfasts” at Stoep Cafe with Kathy and Rita.

Tom and Gerhard are driving to Nelspruit to drop off the rental car for Tom to pick up another, which will be the last car we’ll need until we depart four weeks from today, on March 23. Time flies by quickly as we savor every last moment in the bush.

We hadn’t seen Slyvia for a while, and now she’s also returned. Could they have been off giving birth to their young? We’ll find out soon if they return with little ones.

Most likely, when we return in December, we won’t be staying at this house. The animals we know and love most likely won’t find us at the next house, a few miles, km, from here. But Little found me when we arrived here after a two-year absence, so maybe, he’ll find us again.

The animals can wander an area of a few kilometers each day, so we never know who we may see again when we return in December to a house we hope to rent, owned by Louise and Danie and recently remodeled.

Broken Horn’s face is muddy from digging for roots.

Lately, Hal and Broken Horn have become quite a source of delight for both of us. Although they may appear simultaneously, most often, it’s one, then the other, as was the case this morning. Their personalities and demeanor are uniquely different. Hal is more easy-going with the piglets and moms, while Broken Horn doesn’t hesitate to show them his horns.

He never hurts them, but an injury could happen. We often see mature warthogs with severe injuries from messing with wildebeests and kudus. The bushbucks back off entirely when a larger animal is near. We’ve never seen a bushbuck with one of those gaping holes due to an angry larger animal. Overall, the animals get along well.

Broken Horn also steps up onto the veranda and can stand there for an hour waiting for us to “do something.”

We are cautious when tossing pellets to ensure no unnecessary competition between species occurs. Of course, there are occasional scuffles within each species, mainly just chasing one another off. We humans need to avoid inciting any disharmony between the wildlife. Their lives are hard enough to have humans making it worse.

This morning, I am on a more frequent walking schedule, hoping to get in as many steps as possible before Rita gets here. I haven’t missed a day since I began, shortly after the start of the new year. I’ve managed to meet or beat my prior week’s number of steps each week. At this point, 8000 to 10000 steps per day seems to be the number that works best for our lifestyle and available time.

This band of mongooses has been hanging out for hours each day, staying in the shade when it’s been so hot.

When we get to Florida, I will be able to walk outdoors. There are plenty of birds and marine life photos I’ll be able to take since we’ll be situated right on the water. Of course, I’ll be taking my phone or camera if I see any alligators. It has been over two years since we’ve been close to the sea in India in 2020/2021.

So that’s it for today, folks. I have to get a few things done before heading out, including some photos to this post and wrapping it up.

It’s good to see Holey Moley once again. She’s been busy elsewhere lately.

I hope you have a great day wherever you may be in the world.

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

Frank and The Misses were trotting over to the veranda for some seeds. For more photos, please click here.

Marloth Park has suffered a sad loss of a beloved animal…

Not our photo. Fluffy, male, and Dezi at the Impala Dam on January 15, 2021.

After a good night’s sleep, I awoke this morning at 7:30 and began my day by checking out the world news, my email, messages on Messenger, text, and WhatsApp, and finally checking out the most recent new posts on Facebook as I always do. I love knowing what’s going on in the world. I also listen to podcasts when getting ready for the day. But more on that later in this post.

When I read the following post this morning that popped up on Facebook, it brought tears to my eyes. Not only was it beautifully written and heart-wrenching, it was sensitive to the reality that few of us in Marloth Park had ever seen Dezi, but that didn’t mean we didn’t love her.

Many nights, we’ve sat on the veranda and listened to hers, and Fluffy’s roar permeates the air. Last night, the roars we heard must have only been Fluffy’s since, by then, Dezi was no more.

Please read the following unedited, beautiful tributes to her and her sad passing.

May be an image of big cat and nature
Not our photo. Fluffy and Dezi at the water’s edge in Lionspruit.

✝️A TRIBUTE TO QUEEN DEZI ✝️ by Gerrie Camacho.

The roar from the Lionspruit lioness, also known as Dezi, will no longer be heard as she has spent her last night under the Lowveld skies. As of last night, she will no longer join her mate of the past 16 plus years in the always familiar duet of lion vocalization, claiming Lionspruit as their territory. She was a quiet legend and was most probably one of the oldest wild living lionesses but at the age of twenty years had to quit the African bush life.

Few people were privileged to spend time with her, many were lucky to see her, and most owners and visitors had the regular privilege to hear her at night time. After her radio collar transmitted from the same area for the past few days, it was pertinent to go find her on foot in an area too dense to enter with a vehicle.

She was hardly responding to any stimuli of the sound of humans and paid no attention to our approach on foot. A winding pathway was established from the nearest road to approach her by vehicle. Here she was darted and taken to a workable area where she was examined by Doc Peet.

We can only pay tribute to this female who kept a fighting spirit to survive until the last minute. Doc Peet who has been serving the Marloth community voluntarily and diligently over the past couple of years had the sad task to let her pass on as humanely as possible. This task could have been performed more easily, but he chose to help her out of this life with as much dignity as possible. Thank you to all those involved in finding her. Thank you Doc Peet for the professional, compassionate and respectful manner you once again showed while working with this magnificent beast in her last moments under the Lionspruit skies. R.I.P. Dezi!❤️

Also, on Facebook was the following message further explaining her passing:

It is a sad day indeed for all of us who love our own Lionspruit lions.
Yesterday we lost Dezi. It has been a long week of hoping against hope that she would recover from age-related injuries that she recently suffered whilst still living her best lion life. But unfortunately, she was losing ground day by day. Dezi indeed lived to a great age for a lion.
We would like to thank Doctor Peet Venter for his caring, professional input. He concluded yesterday that Dezi was suffering, and it was time to let her go. Thank you also to Gerrie Camacho from MTPA, the Marloth Park Field Rangers, and the Honorary Rangers for this last day of care. A special thank you to Joce Gordon for the time-intensive monitoring, especially over the last few weeks.
Genie Retief, Chief Honorary Ranger.”
May be an image of big cat and nature
Not our photo. Another gorgeous photo of Dezi.

It is amazing that those of us who love wildlife can feel so deeply for an animal they’ve only heard but never seen. That’s the magic of living in Africa, or anywhere there is free-roaming wildlife. We fall in love with their beauty, uniqueness, and mystery, although we were never able to get too close to her or ever see her at all.

If we are so touched by the sound of a lion, living only meters away from Lionspruit, which abuts our holiday home in the rear, it is easy to understand how connected we become with the animals we see almost every day, who look into our eyes, with trust and interest and depend on us, in the leanest times, to toss some sustenance their way.

Soon, the holidaymakers who came to the park for the Christmas and New Year season will be leaving to return to their homes in other parts of South Africa and, for some, other parts of the world. When they are gone, the vast numbers of animals that routinely visit us will return to us in abundance.

Now, with the rich vegetation for the wildlife to eat after weeks of rain, they no longer need much in the way of pellets. And yet, day by day, they return, much to our joy and appreciation. Sure, we still toss a few pellets their way, the same way you’d offer your dog or cat an occasional treat, knowing with or without this offering, you are still loved, still important in their lives.

In the future, the lion roars we hear at night will only be those of Fluffy and, of course, the remaining five lions currently residing in our presence.

The holiday has ended, but our hope for the future is only just beginning. May the New Year bring all of us peace of mind and comfort.

Photo from one year ago today, January 3, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #284. Festival in the street in India. “Meena Sankranti is an important Hindu festival observed on the auspicious occasion of the sun’s transition from Pisces to Aries. Known as Meena Sankramanam in South India, the festival will be celebrated on March 14 (Saturday), 2020, all over India. Celebrating a Sankranti is often marked with the donation of various things. According to specific personal needs, the people celebrate the event at the onset of every month. Some Indian states like Punjab, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala observe the occasion at the beginning of each month. In contrast, states like West Bengal celebrate the festival during the latter half of the month.” For more photos, please click here.

A long ago memory with relevance today….Four lions spotted in Marloth Park…Are the animals hiding?..

On a walk in Scottsdale, Arizona, in 2012, shortly before we left the US to travel the world, we stumbled across this saying on a large slab of stone.

Around this date in 2012, Tom and I went for a walk in the Old Towne area in Scottsdale, Arizona. We were staying there in a lovely condo for a few months while we wrapped up all the seemingly endless details of preparing to leave the US for our anticipated years-long journey.

We chose Scottsdale in an attempt to determine if and when, in the future, we may decide to settle somewhere. Would Scottsdale be an option? After spending two months there, we found it wasn’t quite for us. But during those two months there, we enjoyed ourselves as our first foray away from Minnesota, where Tom grew up, and I’d lived for over 40 years.

A male waterbuck at sunset on the bank of the Crocodile River.

During that time, we set up all of our new digital equipment, continued making bookings into the future, and handled insurance and other business matters that required attention before we left the US on January 3, 2013, from San Diego, California, on our first cruise. Oddly, the memories of that time are as fresh in our minds today as if it was yesterday.

Today’s main photo popped up from one of the clouds we use as a “memory.” It made us laugh when we remembered encountering this message on a stone slab during the walk that day in Scottsdale. At the time and even now, we perceived it as an omen that we would enjoy our travels together in the upcoming years, knowing the depth and quality of our relationship. We’ve never been disappointed.

Sunset from Kathy and Don’s third-floor veranda.

At that time, nine years ago, we had no idea how long we’d travel, if we’d enjoy it for the long term, after facing many of the challenges we’ve encountered along the way. We knew our desire and commitment were firmly in place along with our established criteria which we’d fined tuned during the ten prior months that we’d spent conducting research.

If you find the sign difficult to read, the quote from Mark Twain reads: “I have found that there is no surer way to find out if you like people or you hate them, than to travel with them.”

How true that’s been for us and surely is for other couples who travel, whether they are partners or friends. Never once in the past nine years have either of us questioned we are with the “right traveler,” the “right companion,” or the right “love partner.”

A crocodile on the move on the river.

After hearing about our ten months in lockdown in India, many have commented that they’d be at each other’s throats being stuck in one room for so long. We comforted each other and provided support and encouragement to one another during the challenging time. In the end, it only made us stronger individually and as a couple. Go figure. Who knew we’d spend 10% of our travels stuck in a hotel room? We are very grateful we didn’t get Covid-19 and that we came out in good spirits.

As for the lions in Marloth Park, four have been sighted over the past several nights by rangers and others. Two males and two females are obviously on the move and hunting for food, which is plentiful in Marloth Mark, perhaps even easier to find than in massive Kruger National Park.

A male impala grazing on vegetation on the bank of the river.

A weird phenomenon we’ve observed these past three days since the sighting has been the lack of wildlife visiting our garden, less daily than we’ve seen since we arrived last January. While in the national parks in India searching for tiger sightings, the rangers explained that the various antelopes, particularly the Sambar deer, give off bark as a warning sign for all animals when a tiger is in the area.

Is it possible our antelopes here in Marloth Park have given off such notice to all wildlife that their lives are in danger with the nearby lions roaming through the park? We feel confident this is the case. Not even Little, other warthogs, or our usual 10 to 12 bushbucks are stopping by. We’ve only seen bushbuck Gordon Ramsay each of the past three days, but he is very skittish and nervous, constantly looking around.

Frank and The Misses don’t seem concerned about the lions in the park. They aren’t much of a meal for a lion.

Word is out not to feed the animals since it will cause them to gather in groups making easy prey for the lions.  With no animals in the garden except for the mongooses, that’s not a problem for us. We haven’t tossed pellets in days while we wait for this scary time for the animals to come to an end.

Hopefully, the lions who’ve arrived from Kruger, from the other side of the fence between the two parks, will return from whence they’ve come. But, if they find the pickings are good here, they may not leave for quite a while. In the interim, we all must be diligent about being outdoors at night and during the day. Lions may prefer to hunt in the dark, but we’ve seen them with “kills” during daylight hours.  Of course, we are being cautious when outdoors, day and night.

Well, folks, that’s our news for today.  Please stop by again tomorrow for more.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, November 13, 2020:

This photo was posted one year ago while in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #235. This photo from Maui, Hawaii, almost looked like a scene from New England by the sea. For more photos, please click here.

Off to the dentist once again…Busy morning in the bush…The animals are hungry!…

A rock for a pillow.

In a few minutes, we’ll be leaving for my dentist appointment when finally, I’m having that recently root-canaled tooth pulled. It just wouldn’t stop hurting, and there was no point in adding a crown to a painful tooth. Since it’s the last molar on the bottom left and won’t be visible when I smile or laugh, pulling was the best option.

Since I had the root canal only a few months ago, Dr. Singh explained it could require “surgery” to pull it out if it doesn’t come out quickly on the first try. I am not looking forward to this.

Thick Neck/Bad Leg hangs around most of the day and night.

My plan today was to start preparing today’s post, hoping to complete it when we return. Hopefully, I will feel fine and will be able to finish the post. If not, I will write a short update, add what I have written thus far, and be back with more tomorrow. I am hoping I don’t need to take more antibiotics. I’ve had enough of them in the past year with the teeth issues.

Once I am done today, if all goes well, I won’t have to return to Dr. Singh until we return in December 2022, when I still have one silver amalgam filling in my mouth. I want to be removed, once and for all. Over the years, I’ve had all of them replaced with white porcelain.

Kudus and bushbucks in the garden this morning.

This morning was quite eventful in the garden. At one point, we had no less than 20 wild animals in the garden. Without rain yet, the bush is so dry the animals have nothing to graze upon and are subject to people like us feeding them. Several bushbucks live in our garden, always looking at us for more food. It’s heartbreaking. We can’t possibly give them enough food to get them through the day.

However, they will make it to the rainy season, from what we can tell. They all look healthy and surprisingly well-fed. On Friday night at Jabula, we met Gary, one of our neighbors, and he sees and feeds many of the same animals we see and feed. We laughed over their characteristics. Each animal has its unique personality, and it’s often easy to distinguish one from another. We all laughed about Broken Horn, This Neck/Bad Leg, and Holey Moley.

Lots of animals were looking at us this morning.

Gary wasn’t quite sure who Little is, but then again, he may not have been looking for his distinguishing marks and characteristics, which for me is hard to miss. When he approaches, he always heads to the side of the veranda, closest to where I sit. He’s very bossy and will come up onto the veranda if we don’t respond to his visit. Gosh, soon we’ll be gone, and he’ll have to find someone else to pester several times a day. (Not that I mind at all).

A few readers have written inquiring about how hard it will be on the wildlife when we leave. Once the rains come in the next month or two, everything will be green, and eating pellets and vegetables offered by humans won’t be necessary to survive. But, they are resourceful and will wander to other locations where residents are feeding.

We couldn’t toss out the carrots and pellets quickly enough.

At that point, any pellets tossed their way are comparable to treats one would give their pet, not necessary for survival but fun for us humans to show our love and devotion.

Last night, we cooked burgers on the braai, directly on the grates. This morning, a dozen or so mongooses climbed up the back of the braai and started nibbling on the remnants of the meat and fat. Soon, Vusi or Zef will arrive and clean the braai as they do each day after we’ve used it. But it’s always funny to hear the mongooses moving inside the gas braai. It’s another of those humorous experiences we discover in the bush.

As I looked out the window in the kitchen, I saw the kudus in the front garden.

Right now, three mongooses are drinking from Frank’s little container of water. As carnivores, they don’t eat seed or vegetables, but on occasion, they’ll run off with a piece of cabbage, celery, or carrots, playing with it but not eating it.

Right now, only 15 minutes before we depart for Malalane, Tom is watching overtime for last night’s Minnesota Vikings Game. If it’s not done in time for us to leave, he’ll watch it when we return later on.

When they heard the commotion in the back, they moved to the rear garden with the others.

We have returned from the dentist in Malalane. I’m not up to writing much now, but I’ll be back with more tomorrow. All went well, but right now, I think I’ll take it easy and watch the latest episode of Season 11 of The Walking Dead and lay low for the remainder of the day.

It’s a beautiful warm, not hot, sunny day. The animals returned when we did, and they were looking for pellets and seeds. We are attending to them now. Tomorrow is another day, and surely I will be fine by then.

Three kudus in the front garden munching off a little tree with greenery.

Have a pleasant day!

Photo from one year ago today, September 13, 2020:

One year ago, this photo was posted in lockdown in a hotel in Mumbai, India, on day #174. As we were sitting in our outdoor living room in Kenya that morning in 2013, while writing, seven goats jumped over their stone wall behind our garden directly into our garden, only a few feet from us. They decided to dine on the lush leaves of the hibiscus bushes in our yard. For more photos, please click here. For more photos, please click here.

An exciting morning in Kruger National Park….A favorite animal hidden in the bush…

This was the final photo I took of the leopard; although unclear, we were grateful to get it.

When I bolted out of bed this morning, feeling much better, after not coughing all night and getting adequate sleep, I said to Tom, “Let’s go to Kruger as soon as we’re ready to go out the door!”

In a matter of minutes, I was showered, dressed, and ready to go. Tom filled out the required entry form, grabbed the passports, filled our mugs with iced tea and ice while I grabbed a second-charged battery for the new camera, and we were out the door.

This was the first photo I took today of the leopard, obstructed by brush and vegetation. I was determined to get a better shot.

Knowing we have the interview at 4:00 pm, 1600 hrs, with the reporter from the newspaper in Minnesota, we knew going as early as we could be a must. Also, we wanted to leave ample time for me to prepare today’s post and hopefully upload a few photos from our self-drive safari.

Many visitors prefer to enter Kruger in the early morning as soon as they open at dawn. For us, we are less picky about the time we go since we’ve been fortunate (i.e.safari luck”) to see plenty of wildlife in the latter part of the morning and often during midday. One never knows when and where the animals will wander about the massive national park.

We were hoping for a good experience. But, as all of us know, getting great photos in Kruger is unpredictable. We always prepare ourselves for the possibility that time in the park can prove to be uneventful and disappointing. That wasn’t the case today! At times, inclement weather can be a deterrent, but today, the sun shines with only a few scattered clouds.

This was the blurry second photo I got of the leopard eating her kill.

No, we didn’t see the Big Five, as many strive to achieve. We saw two of the five; a leopard as shown in today’s photos and a few elephants, which will be shared in the next few days as we go through all of our photos. As mentioned in the past, for us, seeing the Big Five is not necessarily a goal. We achieved this many times in South Africa, Kenya, Botswana, Zimbabwe, and Zambia on prior visits.

These days, we don’t think in terms of the “Big Five.” We’re often looking for unique and unusual sightings, a lofty goal that is seldom achieved. But today, we had some thrills, especially our included photos of a leopard eating a kill near the Sabie River, not too far from Lower Sabie, where we always stop for a bathroom break or lunch at the Mugg & Bean Restaurant.

With my new camera in hand,  which I still need to learn more about, I had the basics down pat, sufficient to get a few good shots. But, the reality remains that wildlife is not always advantageous for amateur photographers, such as me.

After we were on our return drive toward the Crocodile Gate with no less than an hour until we’d reach the exit, we noticed about a half dozen cars poised on the side of the road with passengers holding cameras in hand in an attempt for a good shot. It was tricky. The leopard was deep in the bush, obstructed by vegetation and branches, and I didn’t feel hopeful for a shot.

This was the third photo I got of the leopard, hoping for a  better shot, the best of which is the main photo.

With Tom’s expert maneuvering around other vehicles and my sheer will and determination, we found ourselves in a prime position where we stayed only for a few minutes to allow others to take whatever photos they could get. But, even in this choice location, regardless of how steady I held my hand, getting these few photos were far beyond my expertise.

Subsequently, I am sharing all that I managed to eke out, however blurry that may be. There was no time to sit there and focus for better shots. The people behind us were impatient and also wanted to take a few photos. So, dear readers, here they are.

Over the next few days, we’ll share many exciting, albeit clearer, photos we managed to take along the way. Please check back for more over the next several days.

Have a fantastic and rewarding day!

Photo from one year ago today, August 11, 2020:

One year ago, this photo was posted in lockdown in Mumbai, India, on day #140. The Mona Lisa was encased in thick glass with lots of heads and cameras in the way of taking photos. If not impossible, it was challenging to manage a good photo through the glass or the crowd. We chose not to wait for a better opening. For more photos, please click here.

We can hear the helicopters rounding up our animal friends…The close proximity of sightings…

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 12 warthogs – inc. Little, Tiny, Lonely Girl, Fred, and Ethel, Peter, Paul, Mary, and more
  • 10 bushbucks – inc. Chewy, Thick Neck/Bad Leg, Spikey, Big Spikey, and others
  • 7 kudus – inc. Bossy, Notches, Little Daddy, and others
  • 1 wildebeest – inc. Broken Horn
  • 19 helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 2 Frank and The Misses

The sound of the helicopters overhead is making me cringe. But, with seven kudus in the garden right now along with Little, Peter, Paul, and Mary, Fred, and Ethel, and seven bushbucks, we’re hoping they’ll hang around with us today, tomorrow, and Wednesday. If they stay nearby, they may be safe, according to Louise’s input.

The male bushbuck we call Bad Leg stood close to us on the veranda.

Animals are amazing. If they stay in this general area, they are less likely to be herded to their demise. Nevertheless, it will be a tense three days on this end. Now, here comes Broken Horn, with lucerne hanging from his mouth. As he approached, he stepped on the long grass in his mouth and pulled hard to get it out.

We underestimate their intelligence. But, then again, do we? As we sit here day after day, totally enthralled, watching them and their behaviors, we’re continually in awe of their innate ability to communicate with one another, let alone with us from time to time.

For the first time, gray louries pecked at Frank’s seeds.

Yesterday, while observing dozens of birds who’ve become regulars, we commented to one another how each day is different from the next. So it’s no wonder it’s difficult for us to feel a need or desire to go away for the day. Even visiting Kruger National Park, which we’ve promised ourselves to visit more frequently when we return from the US, doesn’t consistently deliver the thrills we encounter right here in the garden.

No doubt Kruger has its array of thrills; seeing the Big Five is only a tiny part of it. The endless videos we’ve made and photos we’ve taken over the years of extreme sightings in the national park have left us reeling with wonder. We often refer back to them, astounded by what we’d seen.

The gray louries are typically shy around humans. So it was fun to see them up close.

But, the garden is another matter, requiring no hours-long rides in the car without seeing anything and often managing to maneuver for a good spot when other vehicles are crowded near a special sighting. So, for us, it’s usually about the “little things” we see along the way.

That’s not to say we are tired of game drives. Suppose we could add all of our safaris and self-drives in our visits to national parks. In that case, we could easily say we’ve had hundreds of experiences in several countries, including South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Morocco, and most recently, India.

A gray lourie landed on the table on the veranda while we were seated, a first for us.

In India alone, we visited three national parks during our private tour before the Covid-19 lockdown. We counted 24 game drives in those locations, always on a search for the majestic Bengal Tiger. Mission accomplished. The Big Five performed in many of the above-listed countries, beginning in Kenya in 2013.

That’s not to say more thrills aren’t awaiting us on more game drives. Most certainly, they are, and we look forward to those opportunities, in many ways inspired by our commitment to sharing them here with all of our worldwide readers. But, of course, doing so makes the sightings all the more exciting and rewarding.

Unusual. Three gray louries (go-away birds) descended on the grill for the first time.

Yesterday, we focused on the dozens of birds visiting the garden, drinking from the birdbath, eating seeds, and even getting up close and personal with us by landing on the veranda table while we were seated here, as we are now. Whether it is the sighting of a dung beetle rolling his ball, a bird splashing in the birdbath, or a band of mongoose munching on leftover meat and fat from a prior meal, we love it all. The proximity certainly is a factor in our degree of enthusiasm.

Yes, we love it all. And soon, in a mere eight days, we’ll be leaving all of this behind us for four weeks and heading to a world so far removed from what we’ve experienced here on a day-to-day basis. Oddly, once again, it will be a culture shock. I can only imagine the day we walk into a Costco store to buy a few of their popular five-dollar roasted chickens to eat in our hotel with a microwave and full kitchen, and our eyes will open wide in shock over all the “abundance.”

Little, on the left, and Tiny were sitting closer together than we’d seen in the past. They are our favorite pigs, and yet their personalities are so different. Little is pushy and bossy, and Tiny is gentle and accommodating.

Life in the bush is abundant in other ways.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, June 21, 2020:

The ocean is behind this old vine-covered garage in Campanario, Madeira, Portugal, in 2014. For more photos, please click here.

A soaking rain in the bush…Good for the animals…Our ads…A photo shortage…

Lots of pigs!!!

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 8 warthogs – inc. Little, Lonely Girl, Lonely Boy, Fred, and Ethel, and Peter, Paul, and Mary,
  • 9 bushbucks – inc. Chewy, Thick Neck/Bad Leg, Spikey, and others
  • 6 kudus – inc. Bossy, Notches, and others
  • 1 wildebeest – inc. Broken Horn
  • 2 Frank and The Misses

In the past year, with the assistance of our web people, we added advertising links to our site. We fully understand and appreciate the annoyance of these ads popping up when you’re opening our pages or reviewing any of our archives. We are sorry for the inconvenience of dealing with these ads and hope this won’t deter you from enjoying our posts.

Over the years, we’ve mentioned we weren’t using this site to make money, and we did not, other than a few dollars each year from our ads listed on the right side of the page. But, during this past year, when our site was redone, we had to change to a costly hosting company to handle our 3200 posts and employ our current web developers to handle day-to-day issues as they occur.

There are always bushbucks in the garden, even at night seen on the trail cam.

There are annual fees for all of these services and features, and we hoped to offset some of the costs by implementing an advertiser program. Slowly, our revenue is increasing but not enough yet to cover the expenses. It may take a year or more to reach such a status.

In the interim, we appreciate your understanding and patience in either using some of these links for your purchases or not, per your preference to move them out of your way. For example, on the side of our page, the Amazon link doesn’t cost you a penny more to use but, when doing so for your purchases, it helps us reach our goal of covering our website expenses. We so appreciate this use and others; when the new ads pop up, should they serve any of your needs.

The commission we receive is pennies per transaction, but over time, they can accumulate. Advertising also applies to our YouTube page, found by typing my name in google: Jessica Lyman YouTube to see our hundreds of videos, now with ads. We both thank you for continuing to read our daily posts and for watching our videos.

We are always thrilled to see kudus and, of course, their youngsters, as shown here.

On another note, the past week, our photo ops in the garden have been fewer, not due to fewer animals but only due to my failing to take many photos. When photos appear to be blatant repeats, I tend to avoid taking them. As of the next few days, when the rain stops, our goal will be to find more exciting photos to share here.

Also, we will strive to take plenty of photos while in the US, in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Nevada. However, to respect our family member’s privacy, we won’t burden them with posing for photos too often. Also, some prefer not to have their photos posted online, which we always respect and honor.

Today, with the rain, we’ll stay put until it’s time to head to Jabula Lodge and Restaurant for our usual, always delightful weekend dinner with dear friends Rita and Gerhard. We do not doubt that owner/friend Dawn and her excellent assistant Lyn will seat us at a table out of the rain, should it continue.

Big Daddy is always welcomed in the garden.

We continue to count down the days until we depart Marloth Park, now with only 10 to go. We can’t believe how quickly it’s coming up. Bit by bit, I’m packing in preparation for the departure date of June 29th.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, June 19, 2020:

In the 300-year-old stone house we rented in 2013, the authentic Tuscan kitchen in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy. Unfortunately, there was no dishwasher, microwave, small appliances, or electric coffee pot in the otherwise well-stocked kitchen with items used to make pasta, bread, and sauces. For more photos, please click here.

An odd discovery about a favorite animal…Dinner party tonight…

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 9 warthogs – inc. Lonely Girl, Fred and Ethel, Peter, Paul and Mary, and others
  • 12 bushbucks – inc. Chewy, Thick Neck/Bad Leg, Spikey, and others
  • 5 kudus – inc. Bossy, Little Daddy, Notches, and others
  • 33 helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 1 wildebeest – inc. Broken Horn
  • 2 Frank and The Miss
  • 3 hornbills

Something dawned on us in the past few days, but we continued to observe and concluded that Thick Neck and Bad Leg are the same. Shortly after we arrived in Marloth Park, five months ago as of yesterday, we took a liking to a thick-necked male bushbuck; we aptly named Thick Neck. He is shown in the main photo above.

This is Thick Neck, as shown above.

In no time at all, he responded to his new name and made a point of stopping by several times a day. The pellets, carrots, cabbage, and apples were plentiful for him when we could manage to toss the food to him when no pigs were around. The warthogs try to scare off other animals when food is thrown but don’t do well with kudus and wildebeests.

Then, over the past three weeks or so, we noticed a thick-necked bushbuck limping with his back right leg totally off the ground when walking. He didn’t seem too miserable and managed to get around with his limitation. We surmise that eventually, it will heal when we’ve seen improvement as days pass.

A few days ago, it dawned on us that we’ve been referring to Thick Neck and Bad Leg as if they were two different bushbucks. After all, many of them look alike. But, none we’ve seen in these past months have had such a thick neck. Thus, we concluded that Thick Neck is also Bad Leg. He responds to his Thick Neck name. From now on, we’ll address him as Thick Neck/Bad Leg until his injury fully heals.

I had to take this photo through the screen, or the birds would have flown away. There were no less than 12 birds in the birdbath at one time. They were as noisy as they could be. Quite adorable!

In any case, we still favor him and knowing he has a little trouble getting around. We can’t help but give him a little more than we may offer the others. Of course, Tom has a particular affinity for bushbucks. He always has. With no less than 10-12 visiting us each day, it’s impossible not to find them as special.

Tonight, we’re having a small dinner party, just five of us including Rita and Gerhard and our old friend Don (of Kathy and Don). Don arrived in Marloth Park, their other home(s) in Hawaii, about a week ago and stayed with Linda and Ken in Johannesburg to buy a car. Once this task was accomplished, he was on his way to Marloth Park. Kathy will arrive in mid-July.

Like many of our old friends in Marloth Park, Don stayed away at their “other” homes due to travel restrictions and concerns regarding Covid-19. Now, slowly, over the next several months, others will arrive after travel restrictions are released and they’ve received their two-dose Covid-19 vaccinations.

Busy time in the garden with 9 warthogs.

I supposed, in a way, we’re not unlike them, when soon in 15 days, we’ll be returning to the US to get our vaccines and then return to Marloth Park, less than a month later. The scary part for us is safely arriving in the US after over 35 hours of travel. Of course, we’ll proceed with the utmost caution.

Tonight, we’re preparing a leisurely dinner on the braai, beef, pork, baked potatoes, and sweet corn. Rita is bringing the salad. Making elaborate meals for guests is a thing of the past for us. We’d rather spend quality time with our guests than spend the bulk of the evening in the kitchen wrapping up the finishing touches of a complicated meal.

In our world, being retired, one day of the week is no different than another. A Monday night is as good as a Saturday night! So, we wish all of you a delightful Monday, wherever you may be.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, June 14, 2020:

The walled city of Dubrovnik posted one year ago, visited in 2013. For more photos, please click here.

It’s great to have our human, and animal friends back in the bush…

Kudus stopped by for pellets at sundowner time.

Who’s in the garden this morning?

  • 1 wildebeest
  • 16 warthogs
  • 17 helmeted guinea-fowl
  • 12 bushbuck
  • 2  kudus
  • 1  duiker
  • Frank & The Misses (francolins)
      A hornbill was pecking at the seed container while on the veranda side railing.

A few minutes ago, there were eight bushbucks in the garden. Unfortunately, Mom & Babies (2), the only warthogs that annoy us, heard Tom toss pellets, and they chased all the bushbucks away. This particular mom has a nasty personality, and she scares off Tiny and Little and other warthogs, large and small, when they see her.

The pecking order is easily evident in the bush. Bushbucks, gentle and non-combative antelopes, compete for pellets with the larger animals. At times, kudus and impalas will share with bushbucks but not wildebeest and warthogs. We’re always trying to figure out ways to feed the bushbucks without problems from the other animals.

Two young hornbills on the ground by the veranda.

Some locals use a raised trough to feed the various animals, to avoid the pigs from scaring them off. But, as mentioned in past posts, using a trough is dangerous for the animals, a breeding group of diseases, including tuberculosis, which seems less prevalent in the bush right now than when we were here in 2018.

With the busy weekend over and tourists leaving the park, we’re seeing many more animals this morning. It’s a great start to the week. Speaking of “great starts to the week,” our dear friends Rita and Gerhard arrived as planned yesterday, and the four of us met at 5:00 pm, 1700 hrs, at Jabula for dinner. It couldn’t have been more fun to see them. The conversation ran smoothly as if we had been together recently.

A hornbill at the bushbaby house.

In the coming months, our dear friends Kathy and Don will also return after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19. It has been over two years since they left Marloth Park earlier than planned to return to the US when a close friend had passed away. We were so used to socializing with them, it was sad to see them go away, but we understood. Having them here, maybe for the next few months, is such a joy.de

As the winter progresses here (the opposite season in the northern hemisphere), more and more of our mutual friends, most of whom we met through Kathy and Don, will also return to the park, providing that new lockdown measures don’t impact flights coming to South Africa.

Walter, William, and Willard in the garden.

The news reports the third wave of Covid-19, which could easily impact travel to and from the country. Of course, we do not wish for more Covid in South Africa, with very few vaccinations yet. Of course, we don’t want to see more cases of COVID-19 in South Africa, with very few having ever been vaccinated. We can only wait and see.

Last night, we all enjoyed our dinners, with lively conversation. We had been in contact through WhatsApp for a few years, so it was as if we hadn’t been separated at all. Rita and I have a special sister-like kinship, and we couldn’t have been happier to be together once again. Of course, Tom and Gerhard had no lulls in the conversation either when the four of us sat at the bar before dinner.

Other locals joined in on some of our conversations, making the evening all the more memorable. We are so blessed and grateful to be in Marloth Park among our human and animal friends. No complaints here.

Have a fantastic Monday!

Photo from one year ago today, May 17, 2021:

A Belted Galloway cow. From this site: “Belted Galloway cattle originated from western Scotland, a region whose weather is strikingly similar to Ireland’s damp climate! This makes Belted Galloways perfectly suitable for the wet, cold winters and the soft boggy terrain of Irish farms. Their long, curly outer coat is ideal for rainy weather, as its coarseness deflects moisture from the animal’s skin. They also have a soft undercoat to keep them warm in colder temperatures. The head of the Belted Galloway has long hair around its ears, preventing frostbite in a case of an extreme Irish freeze. Common nicknames for these cattle are ‘Belties’ or even ‘Oreo Cows’ due to their peculiar resemblance to the popular treat!” For more photos from the year-ago post, please click here.