The Strangest Encounter Yet, by Deb Eve

brownwaite_smallI know that no will be surprised to hear about my numerous wildlife encounters. It’s always given me great fodder for the party game, “Two Truths and a Lie” since people don’t usually guess that yes, I’ve had my lunch stolen by a monkey (this is NOT as cute as it sounds when you’re tromping through the Amazon jungle basin and the nearest place to grab a bite to eat is like an entire country away). Or that St. John had once narrowly escaped getting charged by a hippo by running into a (thankfully also narrow) mud cooking hut, and that I’d once availed myself of one of my infant daughter’s diapers rather than risk a literal run-in with the party of hippos that were spending the night right smack in between our tent and the latrine. (Laugh if you must, but more people are killed in Africa each year by hippos than by lions. Sure, they seem like slow and gentle creatures, but you’d be surprised how fast and aggressive those bulky babies can be.) And what, you might ask, were we doing camping – with an infant no less – right smack in the middle of a hippo hang-out? Well, they were all hanging out way over there in the river when we set up camp. We didn’t know that THEY camped out at night in the campground, too!

Then there was the excruciatingly painful time I got too close to a Portuguese Man-O-War on an Ecuadorian beach. And the time – when I was six months pregnant, no less – and spent six insane hours hacking my way through the aptly named “Impenetrable Forest” to visit with mountain guerrillas (totally worth all the agony, at least as far as I was concerned. Not so sure about the poor guides who had to carry me back down!)

I won’t have many good tidbits left for Two Truths and A Lie after people read FIRST COMES LOVE, THEN COMES MALARIA since most of these stories are in the book. (But that’s a price I’m willing to pay.)

But for me, the strangest encounter yet just may have occurred this past Wednesday night. I spent most of this week at a CARE Conference and Celebration in Washington, DC. Since 10% of my book royalties are being given to CARE, they invited me to a celebratory dinner at the French Ambassador’s residence. So there I am, rubbing elbows with Ambassadors and Generals and fancy-schmancy folks and being served haute cuisine on silver trays with a different wine (or champagne!) for each course. I’m looking around at the exquisite art on the wall, the candelabras, huge rose centerpieces, monogrammed silver and Republic Francais china pattern and I’m thinking s’il vous plait, passez le buerre – because I can’t think anything else in French! No, really, I’m thinking now this is a looooong way from the Peace Corps, from Arua, Uganda, heck even from little old western Massachusetts. I’m thinking THIS is a wildlife encounter of the strangest kind.

Well, it is for me, anyway.

8 Replies to “The Strangest Encounter Yet, by Deb Eve”

  1. I knew you would have some great stories, Eve. And even though I’m aware hippos are dangerous, I just don’t want to believe it. I think they’re so cute.

  2. “mountain guerrillas” You mean gorillas, right? 😉 I’m not sure guerrillas would be worth the trip, unless I suppose they were really, really sexy.

    Stay away from hippos…check.

    And thank you for not mentioning spiders.

  3. Ah, y’know in Uganda there were gorillas AND guerrillas and we had run-ins with both. Thankfully, this time, it was only gorillas. Thanks Kris.

    Katie, you’d be surprised (and disappointed) at how well behaved I was at the French Ambassador’s!

    Mom, the menu included: (and forgive the lack of accents here) Rouget poele, Ratatouille, sauce aioli, Cote de veau rotie, Pommes Darphin, Morilles, Delice a la Pistache et Framboises, beverages included; Saint Veran 2006, La Sirene de Giscours 2004 and Champagne Mumm Cordon Rouge. I DID swipe the menu card as well as the lovely place card that reads; Mme Brown-Waite (guess I wasn’t all that well behaved!)

    And I did learn a bit about Ambassador dinner party etiquette. Don’t take the drink offered you as first walk in the door. Wait to greet the Ambassador first. Otherwise you end up with a drink, your pretty little – but totally not practical – purse AND the book you’ve inscribed as a gift for your host. And if you’re like me you only have two hands to manage all this, shake the guys hand and give him your book. So you fumble around a bit, look for a place to put your drink down but just know you can’t put it down on the lovely Louise XVIII end table without a coaster, flail about and then the poor ambassador takes pity on you and he holds your purse and your drink so you can give him your book. yeah, the evening was off to a fabulous start ….

  4. Oh that paints a funny picture…your next book, maybe??? Oh, what was all that stuff in English, I failed second year French.

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