Chapter 1: Ticket to Addis Ababa
... ‘We also like raw meat in this division of Ethiopia,’ said a waiter in a crushed white dinner jacket, smiling broadly as he sliced a steak off a side of cow, suspended on a hat stand behind the buffet table. I tried it with some berbere sauce, another hot delicacy popular with cooks in Dire Dawa, but although I love a well-made steak tartare, I found the taste too primitive, even for my well-travelled palate…’
Chapter 2: Red Sea Adventure
…A school of eight squid, my favourite marine creature, jetted through the water like a team of Red Arrows. When I swam after them, they flushed brown, then green, and the last animal squirted a puff of sepia-coloured ink. Surfacing for air, I was brushed by a soft, turquoise-trimmed nudibranch: Egyptians call it a badia for its undulating movements resembling those of a belly dancer…
Chapter 3: Member of the Royal Press Corps
…When a black Rolls Royce drew up at the palace steps, attention shifted from me to the Queen. Her Majesty, trained not to flinch, passed me with only a brief look of surprise. Had I gone completely native? Trailing behind her, the Duchess and Lady Susan looked perturbed. Could Buckingham Palace have erred? Should they also be veiled…
Chapter 4: Middle East Nightmares
…Then picked out by a shaft of sunlight, I saw the lyre, encrusted with lapis lazuli and with the gold-bearded bull representing Shamash, the Sun God. Hopeless at anything musical myself, I shivered with excitement as I imagined Sumerian fingers plucking its strings some 5,000 years ago. My thoughts were interrupted by the minder creeping up behind me. In order to reach Hatra before dusk, he indicated, we had to leave. ‘Now!’
Chapter 5: No Mocha in Mocha
…The boy sat in silence with his gun between his knees and studying his lean, sardonic features in the mirror, I decided he made me feel ill at ease. Instead of helping with directions, he had ignored us. Was he leading us into a trap? So far, Bedouin had only pilfered vehicles and equipment, but I did not fancy becoming another Madame Claustre: the French archaeologist kidnapped by rebels in Chad and held hostage for seventeen months in the desert …
Chapter 6: May you never be Tired
…Boarding at Jamrud, I was swept along in an arsenal of Pathans waving guns and hawkers brandishing cigarettes, sugar-cane and hard-boiled eggs. Chickens, even a cow, were bundled on board as the Mail pulled out of the station with me seated in the LADIES ONLY carriage pretending I was Lauren Bacall and Habib riding with the driver in the front locomotive …
Chapter 7: The Marabout from Taroudant
…The Café Lemsid looked like a giant sweet that had fallen off a desert transport. Caramel and raspberry red, it sat by the roadside surrounded by the detritus of civilization: burst tyres, perished fan-belts, broken fish-traps and empty port-a-gas cylinders. A blanket was stuffed in a hole in the wall to keep out windblown sand. To nomads, however, it was the Sainsbury’s of the Sahara…
Chapter 8: Letters to Mother
…I would repair to the nearest café to devour her news. Of how the seeds I’d sent home from Seychelles had grown into a tree, and of feeding bits of chicken to a blue-tongue lizard living under the house. In Dubai, I once miraculously received an envelope in her neat handwriting, addressed simply: Christine Osborne c/- InterContinental Hotel, Trucial States.
All I can say is--bravo! It brings back the spirit of adventure that first lured many on their travels: Gaythorne Silvester, editor. UK.
I like the thoroughly exotic tone and the jolly and wide-ranging jaunt through the Yemen: Tim Mackintosh-Smith, author Travels in Dictionary Land.
The chapter on the Royal Tour could almost stand alone: John Ruler, Member of the British Guild of Travel Writers.
Christine gets deep under the skin of the country [Ethiopia] and uses her experiences to good effect. Super descriptive writing! Hilary Bradt MBE, Founder & Chairman Bradt Travel Guides.