Sunday, October 26, 2008

African Literature

While earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree in English, I was only exposed to one work of African literature: Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. Over the past ten years, I have read a great many non-fiction works, but not as many pieces of fiction as I would like. It looks as if I will have the opportunity though since Rutgers Camden is offering a course in the spring entitled South African Literature. The professor, Tyler Hoffman, will also lead a trip to South Africa in March. While I won’t be able to make the trip, I am hoping to take the course. I already have a copy of the syllabus and am researching the authors. One of my resources I am using is The Companion to African Literatures by Douglas Killiam and Ruth Rowe (2000). I would love to teach a world literature course at my high school and devote a unit to African literature. Students need to read more than just British literature.

Monday, October 20, 2008

African Shower

The first shower I took in Africa was at the Drifters Inn in Johannesburg. The tiles were made of African slate, and I loved the look so much that I had my friend tile my shower in a similar fashion. Now, twice I day, as the steamy water washes over me, I imagine that I have just arrived in Johannesburg and am about to embark on a new adventure.

My most African romantic shower was in the Delta in Botswana. We didn’t get to camp until late so our guide heated water at the campfire and filled a bucket strung up to a tree. We showered by candlelight while friendly brown mice ran at our feet.

On another occasion in the Delta, while taking a bush shower during the day, I had warthogs watching. I wasn’t frightened, just a bit self-conscious. Because there were thirteen others people who had to shower, we had to conserve water. The best way to do that was to get wet, then turn the water off, soap up, then rinse.

I enjoyed my most deluxe shower while staying at a luxury safari lodge. The walls were clear, and I showered while baboons and impala frolicked outside. I also had the option of bathing in a sunken tub that also had a huge window overlooking the bush. Fortunately, I was an invited guest and wasn’t paying the $1,100 a night price tag for such decadence.

The longest I’ve gone in Africa without a shower is three days. I was camping in the Serengeti in remote areas without facilities. What sounds like a horrific experience actually wasn’t so bad. We could still brush our teeth and freshen up with economy sized containers of Wet Naps. Ironically, when we finally reached a proper camp, I chose to relax at the bar while most of the others ran to take a shower. I figured the cold shower could wait until after I enjoyed a cold beer.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


I was in Egypt in July when this photo was taken. These two crocodiles--the one I'm holding and the one on my hat--are the only carnivores I saw on my whole trip. I tipped a local at one of the ruins a few dollars for the the priviledge of holding one. It actually wasn't my first time. In 1998, while on a crocodile farm in Southern Africa, I held one a bit smaller who was much stronger. I could barely hold its snout closed, which made me wonder if my Nile buddy was drugged to ensure his docility. While canoeing on the Zambezi River, I've seen many crocodiles along the banks, big boys too, but on the Nile, they are virtually extinct. Many of the passengers on my Nile cruise looked frantically for a siting, but to no avail. I must admit that it is an incredible rush to see one in the wild while paddling within 20 feet of them in a canoe just inches from the surface of the water. It's even more exhilerating (or frightening) on the rare occasions that one must walk in water that I knew contained these creatures.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

African Safari Photo of the Day

Under I Google gadgets, I added the African Safari Photo of the Day. Now when I turn my computer on in the morning, the first image I see is of Africa. The visual imagery gives me the courage to face the stresses of daily life. It's also a reminder that there is a wild, beautiful place that is just nine months away. I considered a nine-day jaunt at Christmas, but I couldn't rationalize the $2,500 airfare for such a short stay. Being able to enjoy another three or four weeks in the bush will be worth the wait.