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.

Zebra day!…A delightful visit by nine of these wonderful animals…

A little cuddle among the dazzle of zebras.

Almost daily, warthogs, bushbucks, kudus, mongoose, francolins, and other birds stop by for a visit. However, zebras are less frequent visitors. Since arriving here over 3½ months ago, zebras have only graced us with their presence on two occasions. Yesterday was one of those occasions, and we couldn’t have been more thrilled.

When Tom happened to look out the kitchen window, he saw the zebras in the driveway. He tossed them some pellets. In no time at all, they came around to the back garden.

“Zebras are one of the many beautiful creatures inhabiting Africa. Many people know them for their iconic stripes and the never-ending riddle about them being black with white stripes or white with black stripes. From this site, here are 25 amazing facts about zebras:

Here are a handful of facts you might or might not know about these striped horses.

  1. The zebra is mainly white and striped with black or dark brown stripes, but black skin underneath their coat.
  2. There are different types of zebra, each with a different stripe pattern. The mountain zebra typically has vertical stripes on its neck and across its torso while horizontal lines cover its legs.
  3. Zebras run in a zig-zag pattern when being chased by a predator making it more difficult for them to run after them.
  4. The pattern of zebras stripes is different for each zebra, making them each unique snowflake!
  5. Their coats’ black & white striped pattern is a good bug repellant, keeping horseflies and other bloodsuckers at bay.
  6. A group of zebras is called a ‘zeal” or “dazzle.”

    It was fun to see two zebras drinking simultaneously.

  7. The Native American culture refers to the zebra as a symbol of balance and the sureness of the path.
  8. The Swahili name for the zebra is ‘Punda Milia.’
  9. Romans used Grévy’s zebras to pull two-wheeled carts for their circuses.
  10. In Roman Circuses, the zebra was usually called a ‘Tiger-Horse’ or a ‘Horse-Tiger.’
  11. When predators face, zebras will form a semi-circle and bit, nip or attack the predators if they come too close to them. They will also encircle an injured family member to protect it from further attack if the need arises.
  12. A mother zebra will keep her foal away from all other zebras for two or three days until the colt can recognize her scent, voice, and appearance.

    There were nine zebras in the garden, staying for over an hour.

  13. Zebras form hierarchies with a Stallion (male) in the lead, followed by his Harem (group of females) behind him.
  14. When traveling with his harem, the stallion will lead them with his head low and ears laid back.
  15. Zebra’s bunch together to confuse colorblind predators, such as lions, which mistake the pattern as grass.
  16. Zebras are one of the few mammals that we believe can see in color.
  17. Zebras are pretty short and can be 3.5-5 feet tall.
  18. The Grévy’s zebra is named after Jules Grévy, president of France (in 1882), who received a zebra as a present from the emperor of Abyssinia.
  19. Another name for Grévy’s Zebras is Imperial Zebras.
  20. A zebra can run up to 65 km/h or 40 mph.
  21. To sleep, generally, zebras don’t lie down – instead, they usually sleep standing up.

    We’re so enjoying seeing wildlife drinking from the birdbath, where we continue to add fresh water.

  22. Zebras can rotate their ears in almost any direction; this ability can communicate their mood with other zebras.
  23. Zebras have one toe on each foot.
  24. Zebras cannot see the color orange.
  25. A zebra species are called ‘Asinus Burchelli’ after a conflict between William John Burchell and John Edward Gray sparked. Burchell brought specimens from Africa to The British Museum, and the specimens died. Gray felt the need to Embarrass Burchell because of the incident; the name means “Burchelli’s Ass.”

    They drink from the top section and often drop down and drink from the bottom section as well.

We’ve researched several facts about zebras over the years, and each source provides new and exciting information about these stunning animals.

The sounds of their hooves pounding on the ground, the whinnying amongst themselves over pellets and jockeying for position in the garden, leave us smiling over their demeanor, rambunctious and determined. Each time we drive on Olifant Road, the only paved road in Marloth Park, we are in awe when spotting them at the side of the road or crossing.

They waited in a queue, taking turns drinking the freshwater.

We seldom see a solitary zebra. They are social animals who travel together, covering many kilometers in a single day. Even here in Marloth Park, which is only 3000 hectares, 6.7 square miles, they find plenty of space to wander. Whether in the parklands or the sparsely occupied residential areas, zebras may be seen running fast together or casually grazing on the grass and vegetation.

Residents of Marloth Park certainly appreciate the zebras offering them carrots, apples, and pellets when they stop by for a visit.

We haven’t been offering apples and carrots at this point, but once the winter comes, when the vegetation is sparse, we’ll begin offering these to our friendly visitors.

They were busy eating pellets for quite some time.

Today, we’ll be working on some research for the future and afterward head over to Louise and Danie‘s Info Centre for a short visit. The school holiday period has ended, and now, they have more time for a little social interaction. It will be good to see them once again.

If all goes as planned over the next 24 hours, we’ll be off to Kruger National Park tomorrow for a much-desired self-drive, hopefully returning with many good photos to share here.

A pretty female profile.

Happy day!

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

A fish eagle, one of the most prolific eagles in Kruger National Park. For more photos, please click here.

Fantastic night in the bush…A human and animal kind of night…

Big Daddy was lurking in the bush, staring at the females.

Last evening when friends Alan and Fiona stopped by for sundowners, we all experienced a night we’ll never forget. Not only was the conversation, wine, cocktails, and food freely flowing, but we were all “gifted” with visits by dozens of wildlife. They came, not only before sunset, but once it was dark, when we turned on the garden light, one species graced us with their presence after another.

Many zebra butts were facing us this morning as they clamored over the pellets Tom tossed into the garden.

It was as if we’d arranged this menagerie for our guests, and none of us could take our eyes off the garden. Amid all the enjoyment of seeing so many wild animals, the conversation flowed with ease and good humor. Tom and I joked that the word got out that we currently have five remaining 40 kg, 88 pounds, bags of pellets in a corner in the second bedroom.

It’s not natural for kudus to bend over to eat when they’re used to eating vegetation on trees. But, they do turn for the pellets.

Then, again this morning, even more, came to call, including wildebeests (gnus), zebras, bushbucks, warthogs, kudus, including one Big Daddy (the first we’ve had visit) who’d somehow managed to maneuver his way through the dense bush to make his way to our garden.

As I write this now, the Big Daddy stands tall in his majestic wonder, as shown in today’s photos. To us, no animal living in Marloth Park commands more reverence and respect than these unique massive males. Sadly, on occasion, a foolhardy tourist will not respect their strength and girth and may become injured when getting too close.

One of the two wildebeest hung around with us all evening, well after dark.

Recently, we posted a video we’d seen on Facebook where a man touched the head of a Big Daddy, which resulted in an injury to the man’s face. We were appalled by how idiotic the man was to think he could “pet” the massive animal. We never touch any of the wildlife, nor do we hand-feed any of them.

See the Facebook link here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/377035355798904/permalink/1901623916673366/

The second wildebeest that hung around last night and returned this morning.

A highlight of the evening we all especially savored was when on four occasions, we heard Dezi and Fluffy roaring in Lionspruit. What a fantastic sound! As it turned out, Alan and Fiona stayed until 11:00 pm, 2300 hours, when suddenly we all realized how late it was.

The evening flew by. Shortly after they left and we were situated in bed with our laptops, I got to work to complete the day’s corrections I’d never finished during the day.  It wasn’t until after midnight that I finally gave up and decided to finish the task this morning.

It was almost dark when we took this photo.

Well, this morning with six zebras, four warthogs, two bushbucks, and the returning two wildebeest from last night, it took me a while to finally get to the remaining corrections from yesterday. Now I am caught up and can work on today’s ten posts before the day’s end.

Today will be an easy day. I’ve already done two loads of laundry and prepared a few items for tonight’s dinner, a well-seasoned chicken flattie to be cooked on the braai. Most flatties are already seasoned with some spices we don’t use in our way of eating. Soon, I’ll soak the chicken in purified water in the big metal bowl to remove all those spices off and then re-season it to our liking.

Such a handsome male kudu.

Tomorrow, we’ll make the second flattie implement the same process when we didn’t have room in the small freezer for either flatties. Today is yet another gorgeous day, cool and slightly overcast. We love every moment of this cool weather.

Enjoy today’s photos along with us. Happy day to all.

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

Taking photos through the fence in Marloth Park was tricky, so we got what shots we could.  At times, we were pleasantly surprised at the finished product. For more photos reposted one year ago, please click here.

Will today be a good day for sightseeing?…The consumption of animal products…

The first animal we encountered in the paddock was pigs. As our readers know, I love pigs.  However, as cute as they are, they can’t match the appeal of a handsome warthog.

Fascinating Fact of the Day About St. Teath, Cornwall*:

From this site: “The village has an interesting history. St Tetha, (from whom this village acquired its name) came over from Wales, with her sisters, to this area of Cornwall to bring Christianity to those living here. Since then, the village has seen much change with the rise and fall of both mining and the railway. There is plenty of evidence of both around the area.  The oldest part of the village surrounds the village square – the focal point of the annual summer carnival, Remembrance day, Christmas lights, and New Year Celebrations.”

So far this morning, the sun is shining, but we’re noticing dark clouds rolling in. If it doesn’t rain, we’ll be on the road to go sightseeing in a few hours. Taking photos on rainy days has become a source of frustration for me, and I am determined to avoid adding rainy day photos to our inventory.  
We were especially enthused to see the pygmy goats. Unfortunately, the grass was too mushy and wet for us to get closer for better photos.
Yesterday, as I’d promised myself, I finished our 2018 tax prep and forwarded the documents and worksheet to our accountant in Nevada. It was a tedious task, but somehow I managed to get through it when I already had a considerable amount of the information in place, ready to enter the form. What a sense of relief that was!
Adorable pygmy goat “baaaahing” at us as we admired him.
Now we wait to hear from the accountant with questions. We’ll probably chat with him in the next week and wrap this up, putting it behind us. We have until October 15th to file the return electronically, which he’ll handle for us.
 
A few mornings ago, after a rainy night, we decided to explore the various paddocks to see the farm animals. It was lightly misting and still quite cloudy, but we couldn’t have been more pleased. 
Beyond this bush are two wind turbines which are prevalent in England.
After a lengthy walk in thick grass, we had to wash our shoes, leaving them outdoors to dry when the sun finally peeked out. The shoes I wear most days when we’re going out are water shoes.  

With only five pairs of shoes, I can’t risk ruining a pair in rainy weather making water shoes perfect for our travels. They are ideal on rainy days and yet, are outrageously comfortable.  Tom’s tennis shoes were also a mess, but he waited until the grass dried and then brushed off the grass using a dustpan brush.  

The countryside beyond the farm is comparable to a patchwork quilt with varying shapes and colors.
As we walked through the paddocks, we realized we’d have to ask the owners, Lorraine or Graham, to escort us so we could take better photos on the next sunny day. Undoubtedly, over the next ten days, it will be bright once or twice.
Geese and ducks co-habitat peacefully in a paddock.
We love African animals, but we are also drawn to barnyard animals who have a unique charm of their own. Sadly, some of the animals we saw here will eventually be slaughtered. I doubt the goats or the ducks and geese, kept for their eggs, will be subject to that dreadful fate.

Yesterday, I wrote about how we eat meat, chicken, and pork, yet we have angst about slaughtering animals. Isn’t that hypocritical? I suppose some would say it is. But, the reality remains…we have emotions about this topic.
More beautiful scenery as seen from the farm.
Unfortunately, I can’t be a vegetarian/vegan based on my strict diet, nor would Tom, who doesn’t eat vegetables or fruit. The way I justify this in my mind, which I must do to make peace with it, is the concept that God, a higher power or whatever your beliefs, created an environment with a “pecking order.”  
Every morning and also during the day, we hear the roosters crowing.  It reminds us of living in Kauai, where there are thousands of feral chickens.
As a result, readily available protein sources (necessary for life itself) are provided to each creature on the planet, including humans. Living in Africa for two years during the past seven years placed us in a position to accept the hard facts about the animal hunt and subsequent consumption of the captured food source.

No, I won’t get further into a philosophical view of whether or not to consume animal products. We each have our reasons, rationalizations, and dietary needs.
The last time we had access to a clothes dryer was in Costa Rica over two years ago.  What a treat!  Our clothes were washed and dried in a mere two hours, compared to a day or two of hanging them in humid weather.
Now, as I wrap this up, we’re watching the weather to see if today will be a good day for a road trip.  

Have an excellent day filled with beautiful surprises!
Photo from one year ago today, September 10, 2018:
Check out those long eyelashes. For more photos, please click here.