Life abroad

On this day in 2004 we drove to my cousin’s for T-giving, over near Chelsea, home of Jiffy mixes!

Think southeast Africa, in the 1970s–90s, with upheavals, informal militias and less-terrifying times. The following bits are from an autobiography of a woman who grew up in Zimbabwe (Rhodesia when they arrived), Zambia, and Malawi; her parents had emigrated there from England, apparently seeking adventure. The book is Don’t Let’s Go To the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood, by Alexandra (Bobo) Fuller (2001).

There is only one time of absolute silence. Halfway between the dark of night and the light of morning, all animals and crickets and birds fall into a profound silence as if pressed quiet by the deep quality of the blackest time of night. This is when we’re startled awake…. This silence is how I know it is not yet dawn, nor is it the middle of the night, but it is the place of no-time, when all things sleep most deeply, when their guard is dozing, and when terrorists (who know this fact) are most likely to attack. (p.131)

I concur with the special non-sounds just before dawn, except for some birds that get going very early, and some predators that are still trying to get a meal before light arrives. Still, much is silent.

On her first date with the guy she marries eleven months later, they camp out on the lower Zambezi River, with a cooler kindly packed for them by her young man’s friend.

We set up the tent, make a fire, and then open the cold box to reveal Rob’s idea of a romantic meal for a beautiful woman: one beer and a pork chop on top of a lump of swimming ice. (p.291)

The tenters ended up awake all night listening to the predators passing by—including a lion and a leopard—so it wasn’t quite as silent as she had observed previously….

Fast read, pretty good. Mostly from her childhood point of view, in the moment, although obviously written in her adulthood.


  1. kayak woman says:

    have read that book.

  2. Sammy says:

    Once again, I just follow the leader (KW!)….