Lightning only Strikes ONCE, right?

While Uwe and I were in Namibia we drove our way toward the Caprivi Strip, a stretch of country that extends to the east like an outstretched finger. We spent a night at the Hakusembe River Lodge in Rundu. Each room is a  private hut. They all have thatched roofs and are situated on the beautiful Kavango River.

The waters were too low for a boat cruise, so I caught up on my journaling, wanting to record everywhere we’d been and what we’d seen so far. No small task, that!

Uwe was (still is, for that matter) culling his photographs.

Dinner that night was a buffet in the big building, also with a thatched roof. The sunset was unusually vivid and stunning, but warned that a storm was on the way. We could see the wall of rain it would bring.

Seldom have I seen a sunset sky as beautiful and ominous

We moved indoors to eat. The storm system brought thunder and lightning, and the lightning strikes occurred faster and closer. Out one of the open doors we saw a massive flash immediately followed with an enormous CRACK!!!!!!!!!

The ground shook – the air was static – the noise was absolutely deafening.

I screamed, because it scared the s**t out of me. Everyone laughed shakily afterwards and I told one of the lodge employees, “My grandfather was a farmer, and he got struck by lightning TWICE. That was way too close for comfort.”

Then an employee ran out of the room carrying a fire extinguisher. She was followed shortly by another employee carrying a second fire extinguisher. Five minutes later an ashen-faced pair of German tourists entered, wheeling their suitcases behind them. They’d checked in late, and were just about to enter their hut when a bolt of lightning struck it….

The roof had caught fire. Some time later I glimpsed the staff carrying the rescued mattresses past the windows. The next morning at breakfast the bedding was still in a pile where it had been hastily stacked. The dining hut had a much higher roof, and we were very, very lucky that giant bolt of lightning hit another part of the grounds.

Lightning only strikes once, right?

NOTES: Text ©2023 Jadi Campbell. Photos © 2023 Jadi Campbell and Uwe Hartmann. Uwe’s photos of our trips and his photography can be viewed at

My books are Broken In: A Novel in Stories, Tsunami Cowboys,  Grounded and The Trail Back Out.

Tsunami Cowboys was longlisted for the 2019 ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Award. Broken In: A Novel in Stories was semifinalist for the international 2020 Hawk Mountain Short Story Collection Award from Hidden River Arts and Finalist for Greece’s 2021 Eyelands Book of the Year Award (Short Stories).

The Trail Back Out was the 2023 San Francisco Book Festival Winner for General Fiction, American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Award Finalist: Fiction Anthologies, Runner-Up for the 2021 Top Shelf Award, 2021 IAN Book of the Year Award Short Story Collection Finalist, and awarded a 2021 Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon. The title story The Trail Back Out was longlisted for the 2021 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Award.

Click here for my author page to learn more about me and purchase my books.


13 thoughts on “Lightning only Strikes ONCE, right?”

  1. So close! When I first moved to Asheville I was sitting at a table by an open window when lightning struck the ground just outside. I actually saw it hit. It zzzapped like some huge bug zapper upon impact, and I saw purple in the sparks that flashed up.

  2. Thanks for sharing. Brought back memories of my two close calls with lightning. The most vivid was on Maple road. My cousin Christine Lucas and I were standing on opposite sides of the sand box made with railroad ties at my house. She had hair down to the middle of her back and all the sudden it stood straight up. Within seconds there was a loud crack behind me and lightning shot up the shop’s two way radio tower about 60 feet behind me. Scared the h out of us.

    1. Jim what an incredible story! My mom was terrified of thunder storms because her dad was struck twice while caught out in the fields on their farm over near Albany. I now understand why she was so terrified. What was your second close call?? I don’t want to have more than one – it was way too close. PS: Your story makes me think of Maple Road in a whole new way 🙂

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