Blonde in Africa (Resnick's Library of African Adventure)

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9781570900303: Blonde in Africa (Resnick's Library of African Adventure)

Award-winning writer Laura Resnick recounts her harrowing eight-month journey across the Dark Continent in wonderful style! She was attacked by bandits, arrested in two countries, played with wild gorillas, and went spear hunting with pygmies!

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From the Publisher:

When award-winning writer Laura Resnick set out to cross Africa, she knew it would be exciting and she knew it would be exotic, but she didn't know that she'd... be forced to drive through a live minefield in the Sahara; be attacked by bandits in Tanzania; be arrested in Nigeria and the Central African Republic; watch a ceremony where men stab themselves in the belly with knives; stay in a campsite where lions like to rip open the tents; fall out of her boat while running the Zambezi rapids; play with wild gorillas in the mountains of Zaire; go on a spear-hunt with the pygmies of the Ituri Rain Forest. Here, with the same wonderful style that won her major awards in both the romance and the science fiction fields, Laura Resnick recounts her eight-month journey across the Dark Continent; and her remarkable return trip to a politically unstable South Africa.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

From Chapter Ten: Sheena of the Jungle

We continued on in this fashion for quite some time. Thick rain forests, deep bogs, narrow tracks, utter wilderness broken up by the occasional encampment or small village. Despite our recent adventure, most people we met did not use money; they wanted to trade goods. Empty jars, empty bottles, even used tin cans, were extremely valuable there. An empty vegetable oil bottle or Coke bottle, traded for food, might stay in a family for over a decade. The people of this region [eastern Zaire] once made all of their own storage vessels; later on, manufactured goods were available locally, though never in great abundance. In recent years, with the country going back to the bush and the major cities torn by war and corruption, articles such as clothing, utensils, storage containers, and tools (not to mention Bic pens) had all become rare and valuable.

There was hardly any agriculture in this part of the country. Most people had gone back to living off the bush, picking pineapples, bananas, and other fruits. They hunted for meat; grubs and green monkeys were the two principle sources of protein in the region. I declined to eat either, and we pretty much relied on the beans, rice, and flour we had hauled across the border with us. We ate chapatis (sort of a flour and water frybread) every day, often 2-3 times a day, supplemented with other dry-goods -- peanut butter, canned food, pasta, dehydrated mixes. For anyone with cash, there is food available in most of Africa, and often very good food, but not here. Even if people _had_ crops and livestock to bring to a market town, the condition of the roads and the lack of transportation meant that most market villages we came across were nine-tenths empty. And people were so poor that the merchandise was heart-breaking; small onions, for example, were chopped up and sold in little pieces. I'd cooked and eaten a lot of meat (including camel) that I never would have thought myself capable of consuming, but the meat in Zaire was beyond even my considerably reduced standards: green, with yellowish streaks, and covered with flies and other parasites.

Then one day, while we were bogged in the jungle (a twice- daily routine for the most part), an African wearing (I kid you not) tweeds and spectacles came _bicycling_ past us. I saw the chicken baskets strapped to his bicycle and threw myself in his path. Within minutes, Pippa and I had bartered empty jars, bics, and an old T-shirt of mine for his chickens, which the lads slaughtered. Zairean chickens are too skinny for a feast, especially for 20 overlanders, but at least the rice was chicken- flavored that night -- and a day of de-bogging and then chopping and sawing wood really works up a girl's appetite.

The hunting they did out there, by the way, was mostly the bow-and-arrow type. One day we woke up somewhere in the bush to find a man with a hand-carved crossbow sneaking up on us. He was out hunting and had stumbled across us. Once he realized we were harmless overlanders, he greeted us and went about his business.

I had reached a mental point of no return. I had to learn to love this life, or else go crazy. I mean -- the ants, the festering sores, the diet of flour-and-water frybread and beans, the lack of hygiene, wearing the same dirty clothes day-in-and-out until the seams rotted away, trekking into the jungle to find springs from which to get our drinking water, the isolation, the heat, the rain, the boredom which was only relieved by fear, frustration, rage, or hysterical amusement... I finally coped by simply changing; Sue called it my Sheena of the Jungle phase. Suddenly, when we bogged, I would disappear into the jungle with my machete and come back with interesting things. One day I harvested and cooked wild bamboo for our supper (which gave a little variety to those beans and rice). Another time, after we had lost all of our trowels in a bog, I chopped down green bamboo stalks and decided we should fashion trowels and shovels out of them with our knives and machetes. I gave up toilet paper and just used leaves. I bore the hair on my legs proudly, gave up brushing the hair on my head, and was generally a pretty scary person to be around. From this day forward, physical discomforts ceased to rule my life. Four months into the trip, I finally became tough.

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