My young son, Ashley, and I were travelling from Zimbabwe to Malawi and needed to detour through the Tete corridor in Mozambique. There was little chance that I would reach the Malawi border post before they shut that night and was therefore forced to camp under the Tete Bridge for the night.
Several fellow campers at the site took pity in my pathetic attempts at putting up our tent. I loathe any form of "outdoorsing" -- camping is at the very top of my hate list. To me, "roughing it" is sleeping in a hotel without room service, but we made the most of it, deciding to eat tinned spaghetti with meatballs and stale bread rolls for dinner as opposed to what looked to be distinctly dog-like at the local eatery. The evening air was a thick stew of humidity, with a torturous chorus of mosquitoes. In retrospect, I am certain it was here I contracted malaria.
The next morning, I was instantly awoken by an unfamiliar sound. Instinctively, I put my hands into my hair as I sat up into a spider the diameter of a cup which was dangling off the ceiling of our two-man tent. I screamed and brought my hands up to shield my face from the monstrous spider, screaming again when I saw three huge, luminous green slugs on the back of my hand. Ashley woke with a start and started to cry when he saw me clambering out of my sleeping bag. I looked past Ashley and screamed again when I saw where the unfamiliar noise that originally woke me had emanated from. There was a wild horse looking at us through the tent’s window flap. I turned to look at the other window and saw another wild horse doing exactly the same, staring. Ashley and I were hysterical at this point. We could not get out of our tent fast enough. When we clambered out of the tent, the horses went in the opposite direction we ran in. Ashley was crying because of the slugs on my hand, and I was screaming because I could not get them off.
When our hysteria settled to a mild panic, I slowly became aware that there were people standing around us, and I soon realized why. I had no clothes on. In one swift movement, I scooped Ashley up and ran back into the tent to cover my nakedness.
When I emerged a while later, it was to a standing ovation.