Embarrassing Myself in Africa

One of my most embarrassing moments came after a trip to Zambia, but it started with what I thought was an innocent joke at my own expense.

We had stopped for morning tea during a hike along a dry stream bed that led to the Luangwa river. The ranger with us, Lazarus, asked several questions about life in America. One of the things I said was that I wished he could bring his well-worn rifle to my house and shoot the deer that plague our suburban New York home.

“You have many wild animals?” he said with surprise.

“Oh sure,” I answered, warming to the subject. “Deer, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, fox, turkeys. But the deer are the worst because they eat my garden.”

When we got back to camp, Lazarus asked me if I had an email address, which I obligingly gave him, looking forward to an email pen pal in Zambia. Not long after we returned home, this message from Lazarus popped into my mailbox:

How you. I am interested to visit possible work with you. If you can cover financial trip for me that is great and then preparation of passport I will be ready to get any information from you. Thanks to you both may God be with you all the time.

I hastened to write an explanation and an apology, pausing only long enough to wipe the egg from my face.

Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds

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