Was lucerne a hit on a holiday weekend?…Funny photo of appreciative animal…

Last night’s photo, taken in the dark from a distance, of Bad Ear resting in the remaining pile of lucerne. Later, his eyes were closed, and he was asleep.

Yesterday morning, after the bale of lucerne was delivered, we didn’t see any wildlife for quite a while. Finally, they started drifting in, one by one; wildebeests, Earl and Bad Ear (who ate the most); warthogs, Busybody, Lollie, Rueben, and pesky Trouble; bushbuck Marigold, Tulip, and Lilac, and a variety of impala, all of whom we call Chevy (there’s too many of them to name).

Last night, some activity was around the bale, but wildebeest Bad Ear laid right on top of it, as shown in today’s main photo. We couldn’t stop laughing after he claimed the entire balance of the lucerne. We took the main photo, and the trail cam picked up the other.

Two young kudus were nursing by one mom. It’s rare for kudus to have twins.

Today is a cooler day, and it feels especially good to be outdoors on a cloudy day. Load shedding ended this morning at 9:00 am, so I took my time getting up. With the increased dose of the medication for my headache starting two days ago, which makes me sleepy day and night, I somehow managed to sleep through the night and was still groggy when I started moving around.

The pain from the Covid-19 headache I’ve had since April tends to come and go right now instead of being constant. Doc Theo ordered a new prescription for me for 35 mg as opposed to the 25 mg I had been taking for two weeks when I reported the headache was still there. But, every few days, I experience relief for several hours, during which I hope it won’t return.

A giraffe visited our garden this morning.

Alas, several hours later, it returns. I can’t pinpoint what causes it to return. It’s not as if I am doing anything to precipitate it. This morning, after that long sleep, I awoke with it, but now a few hours later, I am pain-free for who-know-how-long? When it’s gone, I find myself having a little more energy and using the time to complete tasks around the house. I can’t wait for it to be gone.

Four Big Daddy kudus just arrived and are enjoying the remnants of the lucerne. Also, we had some potatoes left from our friend’s visit, and they are finishing those off. Vegetables are a safe food for the wildlife since many frequently dig up roots for sustenance when the trees are bare during these dry months.

Bad Ear was still sleeping on the lucerne this morning.

We’re staying in today, enjoying quiet time in the bush when fewer vehicles are driving on our dirt road. Many holidaymakers go to Kruger National Park on the weekends. During busy times, they must make an appointment to enter the park. We don’t care to go when an appointment is required.

If that many visitors are in the park, too many vehicles are gathered near a sighting, often too many for us to even take a single photo. We will return when this current holiday period ends in a week. Nor do we care to drive to Two Trees to search for wildlife on the river. We couldn’t find a place to park the last time we headed that way.

When Bad Ear left, Norman stopped by the lucerne this morning.

Sometimes, we worry that the magic of this special place will fade away as more and more houses are built. As more ground surface is covered by homes, driveways, and fenced gardens, there is less and less natural habitat for the wildlife to eat. We see this fact when we drive around and see so many houses being built. In time, the animals could be gone, mainly from dying of starvation. It’s an awful thought.

Many say that regular culling is a solution. But doesn’t that defeat this magical place’s entire value and purpose? There’s no easy answer. There are many sides to this perplexing situation, all valid to one degree or another.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, October 2, 2021:

No photo was posted one year ago today.

A heartbreaking loss at our holiday home in the bush…Human, not animal…I had to pretend…

Jeff, sitting at the table on our veranda on the day before he passed away, getting ready to take a photo of the wildlife in the garden,

Today is Saturday. On Wednesday, our dear friend and houseguest Jeff, husband of friend Connie and dad of adult daughter Lindsay who arrived last Saturday (and dad to son David, who wasn’t here), passed away in bed at our holiday home in Marloth Park, South Africa. When Connie awoke on Wednesday morning, she assumed Jeff was still asleep.

Checking further, she realized he wasn’t breathing. She came to our door (they were staying in the two guest cottages on our holiday home property), and Tom rushed out to help. As a former fireman, he knew exactly what to do. He confirmed Connie’s assessment. Our friend Jeff had passed away in bed.

Jeff suffered from a fatal disease called MSA, Multiple System Atrophy, described as follows from this site:

“Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a rare condition of the nervous system that causes gradual damage to nerve cells in the brain. This affects balance, movement, and the autonomic nervous system, which controls several basic functions, such as breathing, digestion, and bladder control.”

Jeff’s dream was to come to Africa to see the wildlife, and he did. On Tuesday, we all went into Kruger National Park, and Jeff, sitting in the front seat of their rented van, could see many species throughout the day. That night, when we returned, we had a nice dinner, after which he and Tom watched a Minnesota Vikings football game, enjoying every moment.

When we initially invited them to stay with us, we knew we wanted to do everything we could to make the visit memorable and meaningful for him, Connie, and Lindsey, who were loving and diligent caregivers, never burdened by the challenges, only burdened by the severity of his illness and how little time was left for him to cherish those he loved and his passion for coming to Africa.

Although Jeff’s speech was impaired due to his illness, his brain was sharp, and he and Tom chatted endlessly.  It was rewarding to witness how much fun he had been having in the place he longed to see before it was too late. Tom and Jeff always enjoyed lively conversation during the 31 years we’ve all been friends.

Over the past ten years, we’ve been friends; we’ve stayed in touch and had a chance for a few get-togethers when we visited Minnesota. They lived only a few kilometers from our home in our old lives. With Connie as a professional chef and me loving to cook and entertain, we often got together over great food and drinks.

In tomorrow’s post, I will share the process of a foreigner’s passing while in South Africa and the wonderful people who supported the process in the past few days.

I apologize for not mentioning this in the past several posts, which I struggled to write, having to alter some of the text to avoid letting anyone know. I didn’t want to put it out there for the world to see when family and friends needed to be notified of Jeff’s passing instead of seeing it online. Connie had posted a few links to our site before their arrival, and many of their loved ones could have been reading our posts. Now that most of their family and friends have been notified, I can reveal the sorrowful passing of Jeff on our site.

We’ll be back with more tomorrow.

Be well. Cherish the day.

Photo from one year ago today, September 24, 2021:

Young kudu on the veranda at the old house. For more photos, please click here.

Drones overhead scaring the animals…Not many visitors now…

Lilac was taking a nap in the garden while mom Tulip grazed nearby.

The only reason we can think of why only a few animals are visiting us this week is the following notice that was posted on Facebook a few days ago:

“DRONE MAPPING OPERATION:
Dear Property Owners
Please be advised that a Drone Mapping Operation will take place in and around Marloth Park from 08h00-15h00 on Tuesday, 30 August, until Friday, 2 September, to assist us in opposing the mine threat. All permissions and legal compliance have been obtained. The two pilots will be clearly visible with yellow high viz jackets and will make every effort possible to limit the time over properties while doing the grid flights. Please note that all security has been notified, along with all relevant authorities of the operation. Please do your part by showing caution and respect to the pilots during the day while the operation is taking place to allow them to do the task on hand as quick as possible. Thank you for your support 🙏
Bossy was eating birdseed off the bushbaby stand. Kudus will eat anything. But we only give them fruit, vegetables, and pellets.
A mining company has been trying to gain approval for mining in this area, not specifically in Marloth Park, but nearby. I don’t know much about it, so I dare not write much, but whatever is happening has kept many animals away from our house since Monday.
After returning on Saturday and seeing a few of our favorites, on Saturday and Sunday, it’s been so sparse that it feels as if it’s a holiday and the park is filled with tourists, keeping the wildlife away as usual. Hopefully, once this dreadful task is completed, the wildlife will return to our garden.
Kudus are drinking from the pool.
We’ve seen a few impalas, a few warthogs, including Lollie, and a lone zebra who yipped loudly when he finished eating pellets in an attempt to find the rest of his pals. Seconds later, we heard a return yip, and he dashed off on a dead run. This morning bushbucks, Tulip and her daughter Lilac, and Jasmine and her son Johnny stopped by for lettuce tops and pellets. But the sound of the drones sent them off in a frenzy.
Now, mid-morning there isn’t a single animal in the garden other than a few birds and two Vervet monkeys eating the birdseed Tom put on the trolley and bushbaby stand. With his orange squirt bottle filled with plain water, he squirted them away. We keep the doors to the veranda open all day unless we are both inside, at which point we close and lock the double doors to keep the monkeys and baboons out along with any possible burglars nearby.
Norman visited within hours of our return from our trip.
We often hear of burglaries occurring at night, but they also can happen during the day when residents keep their digital equipment on their outdoor table while they venture indoors for a few minutes. They return, three or four minutes later, to find their equipment gone.
This morning on a perfect weather day, I am doing laundry using our new washing machine. It is a pleasure to have the clothes come out clean and well-spun, making them dry more quickly than the old dysfunctional washer. Since I enjoy doing laundry, this new washer has made doing laundry easier than ever. Today’s gorgeous sunny weather won’t take long for the laundry to dry.
Nina and Noah weren’t far behind.
Ah, the simple things in life can give us so much joy. We always giggle over how the most simple scenarios can make us both smile. Last night’s dinner was a perfect example, but before that, we talked on (free) Facebook Messenger with our friends Linda and Ken in the UK. In the next 24 hours, we’ll talk to friends Kathy and Don on Whatsapp (again free) living in Hawaii. Modern technology has enabled us to stay in close touch with family and friends.
Today is a quiet day. Besides a few household tasks and cooking another great dinner, we are content. Tom is listening to podcasts on his laptop. I’ve already paid the bills for September, completed my part of the taxes for the accountant, and recorded our expenses from the recent trip. For the first time in a while, I don’t have any “paperwork-type” tasks hanging over my head.
May you have a stress-free Thursday!

Photo from one year ago today, September 1, 2021:

This photo was taken from the veranda at Buckler’s Africa Restaurant with several waterbucks in the Crocodile River. For more photos, please click here.

Sunset cruise on the Chobe River…A huge hit with animals and people…

Our favorite mom and baby elephant photo was taken while cruising on the Chobe River.

When a driver picked us up yesterday to take us to a resort down the road, we were a little surprised we’d be boarding a boat on the Chobe River from Chobe Marina Lodge, not Chobe Safari Lodge, where we were staying. The three-minute drive down the road and the 30-minute wait to board the boat were no big deal.

Male Cape buffalos heading to the water from an island in the Chobe River.

We were seated at a table for four on the pontoon-style boat in no time, ready to embark and begin the sunset cruise lasting three hours. As soon as we sat down, we were seated across the table with a lovely couple, younger than our adult children from Milan, Italy. Andrea and Jenny spoke good English, and we chatted endlessly, later meeting up for dinner at the restaurant up the hill from our resort.

Two fishermen on a small boat on the river.

Unfortunately, the photo I took of the two of them ended up being obstructed by a person walking by, and I could not post it, much to my disappointment. I should have checked the camera, but I caught up in the lively conversation with this adorable and intelligent Italian couple and failed to see if the photo came out. It was an oddity that this happened.

Waterbucks and a few Egyptian geese were foraging on the island.

We enjoyed the time spent on the boat with them and later for dinner up the hill. While on the boat, we met another couple, who were friends, and the man, Dwight, lives in the suburbs in Minnesota, leaving us with endless stories to share, especially with Tom, a native of Minnesota. Christie was from Denver. It was also fun talking to Americans whom we seldom meet in this part of the world.

Seeing the elephants on the island in the Chobe River was such a joy.

The three hours passed quickly, and before we knew it, we returned to our resort to meet up with Andrea and Jenny later. We shared a delightful day and evening while taking many beautiful photos, some of which we’re sharing here today. Many more will follow in days to come. We haven’t put a dent in the pictures worthy of posting but have plenty of time to do so in the days and weeks to follow.

Two young male elephants were practicing sparing.

This morning, we had a nice breakfast in the resort’s restaurant buffet. We never had dinner at the buffet since there were few foods suitable for my way of eating. In our last post for this trip, we’ll share food photos and final expenses for our one week away from Marloth Park.

A blue heron…

As always, we’re a little tentative about getting another 90-day visa stamp when we return to South Africa in two days and go through immigration. If we are turned down, we’ll have to devise a plan which, of course, if that happens, we’ll share here. Each time we get another 90 days, we sigh with relief. The law is vague in this regard…are we required to return to our home country each time? The answer isn’t clear. We’ll see how it goes one more time.

An ibis…

In a little over an hour, our trusty Chris from Chris Tours will arrive at this resort, who will drive us back to the border between Botswana and Zambia, and then take us to the Protea Hotel by Marriott we’ve stayed many times in the past. It’s a pleasant hotel, with good breakfast included,  lovely rooms with comfy beds, and free WiFi.

A crocodile lounged on the grass on an island in the Chobe River.

We will check into our ground floor room, unpack a little, and within a few hours, be heading out to the Zambezi River for another sunset cruise, this time on the Lion King boat with live entertainment. This will be our second time on this boat. We enjoyed the scenery, the included drinks and snacks, and the African music last time and looked forward to this repeated event.

Elephants are excellent swimmers, using their trunks as a snorkel. Cool, eh?

When the boat ride has ended, Chris or his staff will pick up up to take us to the Royal Livingstone Hotel, where we will dine tonight and again tomorrow night, overlooking the Zambezi River. We’ve embarked on quite a few adventures this time, more than in the past, and have had nothing but great experiences.

We couldn’t take our eyes off the swimming elephants.

Saturday afternoon, after a late checkout, Chris will transport us to the Harry Mwanga Nkumbula Livingstone Airport for our short flight (less than two hours) back to Nelspruit. At that point, we’ll go through immigration and see how it rolls out again. After getting a great rate at the US $15, ZAR 253 a day, we’ll collect the rental car at Budget and make the hour-plus drive back to Marloth Park.

The water was shallow in this spot, and he could stand up and walk the rest of the way.

By 5:30 pm, 1730 hrs., we should be back at our holiday home in Marloth Park to decide if we’ll dine in on frozen leftovers or head to Jabula for dinner. We’ll play that by ear, providing all goes well with our return.

Playful elephants.

Yesterday, I attempted to process the ZAR 196, US $11.64 customs fees due on our UPS package from the US. For some odd reason, UPS’s system wouldn’t accept an international credit card, like all of ours. Only South African credit cards can be used. Louise was so kind to help, using her card, which we’ll reimburse when we see her next. All went through Ok, and we should receive the package sometime next week.

Sunset on the Chobe River.

We are packed and ready to leave in about 40 minutes, so I’d better wrap this up and get it uploaded so I won’t have to rush later this afternoon when we have plans.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, August 25, 2021:

This is my new toy, a JBL Bluetooth speaker that works with voice activation from our phones or laptops. The sound is fantastic! We use this every day! For more details, please click here.

Yesterday, over 12 hours without power…The security alarm woke us this morning, set up by ugly animals!…Scary looking visitor in the garden with photos…

Juan, the snake handler, informed us this is a spotted bush snake which, until we knew what it was, concerned us that it is venomous. Luckily, it is not!

A truck hit a power pole in Marloth Park, resulting in several hours without power. Then, load shedding kicked in, and we spent almost 12 hours without power. We put the metal bowl filled with ice in the fridge, so I believe all those perishables survived. But, numerous packages of meat defrosted in the freezer, and we’re wondering if we should toss them. They stayed cold but not frozen. I’m always uncertain under those conditions.

Then, there was a load of dark clothes in the washer that stopped working when the pole was hit, and we were never able to restart it. It was not worth going outside to the laundry area in the dark, so we waited until this morning. Load shedding was supposed to start again at 9:00 am, so I am busy trying to get the two loads done before we lose power again.

We ate dinner at the dining room table in the dark with the rechargeable lanterns on the table. Tom did the dishes by lantern light, after which we headed to the bedroom with the one lamp connected to the inverter outlet, allowing us to charge equipment and use the one lamp on my bedside table.

We streamed a few shows and finally headed off to sleep only to be awakened, hearts pounding, when the security alarm went off. We both jumped up and led to the glass doors to the veranda. Baboon invasion!!! They tried to get into the house by jiggling the door handles and triggering the alarm.

Tom noticed this snake climbing up this tree and chasing a rodent.

They got into everything we had on the veranda, mainly repellent products. After finding no food in any container, they were about to give up when Tom opened the doors and scared them off. I had to call the alarm company to let them know we were safe, or they’d send out a security vehicle to check on us. There’s a fee for false alarms. We reached them in time. They’d be here in five minutes if we hadn’t called.

Yesterday afternoon while I was inside the house recharging my laptop, Tom asked me to come outside to show me something. He had just taken a few photos, which he showed me on the camera. First, he heard a “plop” on the ground after the snake had fallen from one tree, trying to get to another tree to chase the rodent. Quickly the snake slithered up the tree, barely giving Tom enough time to get the camera and take the two shots he got.

How exciting! I was sorry I missed it but happy he got the photos. There are several bright green snakes here in the bush: a green mamba (highly venomous), the green tree snake (mildly venomous),  the boomslang (highly venomous), and more, as listed below from this site:

This is the third snake that visited us at a holiday home in Marloth Park. A venomous Mozambique spitting cobra at the Hornbill house in 2014, the boomslang at the Lovebird’s nest house in 2021, and now at the Ratel house, a yet-to-be-identified green snake. I sent the two photos to a local expert snake handler, Juan de Beer, and I’m waiting to hear back from him on which snake this is.

We didn’t see any point in contacting Juan to remove the snake. We weren’t in danger since the tree was less than four meters from the veranda. However, we must keep a watchful eye out in the event the snake decides to come onto the veranda or get into the house, which is a common scenario.

The veranda and the entrance to the house is at ground level with only a small step to enter the house, a step a snake could easily maneuver. Snakes commonly climb full flights of stairs. “Snakes are flexible movers with between 200 and 400 vertebrae with just as many ribs connected.”

We are watching for the snake, easy to spot with its bright green color, but we will feel better once we know what type it is…or will we feel better?

I just heard back from Juan. Yeah! It’s a spotted bush snake…. nonvenomous!

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, July 14, 2021:

Our waiter took the family photo at Maynard’s in Excelsior, Minnesota, last year on this date. For more, please click here.

It was a lovely Father’s Day in the bush…The animals are already back!!!…Check out today’s new video, taken moments ago!…

This morning, they returned from the busy holiday weekend.  The animals, I mean. As I type this, there is a forkl of kudus, two Medium Daddies whose horns are halfway to full-grown, three moms, and three babies, one of which can’t be more than a few weeks old.

Also, a herd of impalas joined in on the excitement, and in moments, we had 20 or more animals in the garden, inspiring me to make the above video. It’s such fun for us to see so many wildlife in the garden. We never tire of greeting the latest to arrive.

Lollie is munching on pellets with them. The animals have become used to her being a permanent fixture in our garden, allowing her to “dine” with them. She’s a little bossy also, never failing to let the other visitors know, “this is my house!” It’s hilarious that she is here almost all day and night.

Last evening, during sundowner time, the mongooses arrived, cackling, running like crazy, ensuring we knew they were here. The band of about 50 crazy little critters piled atop one another in the side garden, waiting patiently while I cut the paloney (a large baloney type roll we buy at Spar) into bite-sized pieces, ensuring enough for all of them.

We had a pleasant Father’s Day!. No, we didn’t do much since the park was packed with tourists, and we didn’t want to deal with the Crocodile River crowds. or the groups on the bumpy dirt roads, but today, it’s quiet again since most of them had left. The school holidays will begin in a few weeks, and it will be busy, maybe for the entire three weeks.

Something has been on my mind about our posts the past few days. We’ve mentioned this in the past and will repeat it here today. Sometimes, nothing is going on to write about. After almost ten years of living in other people’s houses, visiting all seven continents, countless countries, cities, towns and villages, and hotels, we sometimes like doing nothing.

That’s not to say we don’t have many exciting plans. But, without a doubt, the pandemic has significantly impacted us. Thousands of flights were canceled worldwide last week. Cruises are being canceled right and left. Prices for transportation, including airfare, rental cars, taxis, and Uber, have skyrocketed. Even the cost of living in Africa has

Some world travelers are on the move right now, certainly more frequently than we have been in the past few months. But considering how much we did in the two months we were away from Marloth Park, we feel a break is in order.  Also, we consider  the time spent in booking the following, which also contributes to our desire to stay put for a while:

  • Flights: 4 trips, 9 flights
  • Cruise: 1 (plus canceled 1 cruise due to contracting Covid-19 on the first cruise)
  • Transatlantic crossings: 4
  • Hotels (plus one period staying with friends): 6
  • Long distance driver, taxi, Ube, limo: 5
  • Rental cars: 4

In two months from today, we’ll be on the move again as we make our way to Zambia and then on to Botswana where we’ll stay for a week with many bookings required for that trip.

But, in between times, especially considering all the problems still encountered due to the pandemic, and the difficulty we encountered in those two months, we don’t hesitate to take advantage of this quieter time. As a result, sometimes, we have little to share.

We think about how dull it would be if we lived in a country without the constant stream of wildlife at our door, after we’d done a fair share of sightseeing and taking photos, as we’ve done in many countries worldwide. Right now, we are happiest here.

Also, we don’t forget that in five months, we’ll be off on another six-plus week adventure while we cruise for 42 nights from Athens to Cape Town. We won’t be short of any photos to share and stories to tell. So, in the interim, please bear with us with our mundane stories and lack of exciting new photos. Yesterday, we posted a recipe. Who knows what we’ll post tomorrow other than photos of wildlife and the nuances of our daily lives?

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, June 20, 2021:

We had set Frank’s seeds on the table to keep the warthogs and bushbucks from coming onto the veranda to eat them. Suddenly four hornbills decided to dig in. For more photos, please click here.

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.