December 19, 1987 — In Nigeria, there was a man at the campsite selling calabash bowls. Johanna, a Swedish woman in our group, wondered what exactly a calabash was.
"Is this a fruit?" she asked.
"No, not fruit," he responded.
"What is it?"
"It is very good."
Martin stepped in to help. "Does it come from a tree?"
"No, not tree," answered the man.
"From a bush?"
"No, not tree, not bush. It is from Nigeria."
(So I don't leave you wondering, a calabash is a gourd that grows on a long tropical vine. It ranges from 3 to 30 inches long, and makes a very good bowl.)
December 27, 1987 — One member of our group was a beautiful black woman from London. She had a lovely British accent. Her ancestors had moved to England from the Carribean generations earlier. She looked quite African, especially with her hair braided, but was definitely British.
The locals had difficulty believing she was not African. One man put his arm up next to hers and kept repeating incredulously, "It can't be! You look just like a girl from my own village." They had heard there were black-skinned people in America, but certainly not in Europe. When we were stopped at checkpoints along the road, she did her best to hide behind someone else in an effort to avoid unwanted attention.
At one border stop, she was called in and questioned for a long time by officials trying to satisfy their curiosity. "Were your parents black?" they asked. "Were you born black or did it happen while you grew up?"
She received numerous proposals of marriage. A number of Africans were left scratching their heads at the wonder of a black person living in England.
January 2, 1988 — At one of several police stops in Cameroon, an official came to the back of the truck.
"Does anyone here speak French?" he asked.
Most heads nodded no. My French was improving, but I didn't fancy being spokesperson for the group.
"Where did you come from?" he asked in English.
"Limbe," someone answered.
"Where are you going?"
"How long have you been in Cameroon?"
"Are you from Britain?" he asked.
"Some of us are. We're from America, they're from New Zealand, he's from Finland. . ."
"Oh," he said, the light of comprehension in his eyes. "So you're all mixed up!"
February 22, 1988 — The morning just before we began our climb up Mt. Kenya, we went to Naro Moru for groceries. A tiny earthen-floored hut advertised breakfast, so we stooped to enter the low door and ordered fried eggs and tea. Everything was piping hot and, for the money, it was one of the best meals on the trip.
"We'll have to compliment them on this," I said. "These eggs are outstanding."
"Now's your chance," said Dennis. "Here comes the producer."
A large cackling hen strutted purposefully through the door from the street.
March 12, 1988 -- Our trip back from Nygorongoro Crater to Arusha, Tanzania, with Barry and Maxine from Australia went on long into the night. At one point, as we bumped and bounced along, Maxine asked Dennis to look on the floor of the back seat for her sweater. He couldn't find it.
"It's in a white plastic bag," she said.
"Wait a minute," he said. "I think I feel something white."
March 27, 1988 -- At the end of a flight from England to Italy, the flight attendant announced over the loudspeaker, "Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of British Airways, I'd like to welcome you to Bergamo. Local time is now 6:05, approximately one hour ahead of British time.
Go on to Cacao
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