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.
- Yellow Fever (Good for 15 years at the time)
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!)
- 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.
- Louis to Dallas
- 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.)
- 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.