Lipstick & Danger

My Blog

Africa Here I Come – I have to get shots?

         The Journey Begins

People ask me all the time where do my stories come from? That is complicated. My imagination tends to run in crazy circles. I swear it looks like a Venn Diagram you used to have to create in school. Sometimes the stories start out as flow charts then spiral into something that looks like a spider web. But where do they really come from?

In my case I collect news articles, pictures, music, and travel journals from my trips. When I traveled to Botswana, Africa I wrote non-stop because I was afraid that down the road I would forget the minute details that have enriched my latest novel, Black Mamba. When we loaded into the Ranger Rover to go out for the day I made sure I got the seat next to the driver. Our guides told great stories about the wildlife I wanted to capture for a future children’s books. I’ve yet to write those, but writing this novel forces me to take another look at those humorous facts and folktales.

Why in the world did I go to Botswana? My husband was an engineer and planned to attend a world conference on mining. I reminded him when he proposed to me I said “yes” only if he’d take me to Africa before our 25th wedding anniversary. He agreed (the love-sick sweetie). When this opportunity came up he had no choice but to fulfil his end of the bargain. Kind of like a late wedding present—18 years late!

Let me just say I had NEVER been out of the country. I had to get a few shots and medications. The only kind of needles I like are the ones used in knitting. I wasn’t happy about this new information.

  1. Diphtheria
  2. Tetanus
  3. Yellow Fever (Good for 15 years at the time)
  4. Hepatitis
  5. Malaria
  6. Antibiotics

My suitcase and contents could only weigh 44 pounds. Part of that I had to leave behind in South Africa when I boarded a plan in Zimbabwe for a few days then on to Botswana. So, I had to pack smart—which was a lesson in itself. Even though it would be winter in Southern Africa, I knew it would be warm during the day.

The day came I had to leave my fifth grader and 7th grader just entering junior high behind with my parents. We drove 2.5 hours to St. Louis and I cried my eyes out the whole way. I envisioned our plane going down over darkest Africa or being eaten by a hungry lion after getting lost. (Remember I told you my imagination can get the best of me at times!)

  1. We left St. Louis at 9:30am Saturday morning and arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa Sunday night at 9:30. That’s right boys and girls! That is a long ride.
  2. Louis to Dallas
  3. Dallas to Cape Verde Islands off the Western coast of Africa (I was a little concerned we were locked in the airport while the plane refueled. Armed guards stood at the door.)
  4. Cape Verde Islands to Johannesburg, South Africa (Over the luggage carousel there were pictures of all kinds of weapons which said, “Know your enemy’s weapons.” Huh??

One of the things I enjoyed was the large map in the front of the plane. You could watch the route your pilot was taking. I waited to see if the plane would bounce when it flew over the Equator. Yep! Sure did. I wanted shout out, “I knew it!” but everyone was asleep and thought maybe the other passengers might not be as excited.

And the journey begins! I twisted a lot of my experiences into Black Mamba. I hope you’ll read it when it comes out in a few weeks. There are some funny stories I’ll share and some beautiful pictures.

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