A Boogie with George and the Boys

George Harrison was born on February 25, 1943 in Liverpool, England. The “quiet Beatle” helped bring Indian music to the West with his interest in the sitar and conversion to Hinduism. He hosted one of the very first benefit shows, 1971’s The Concert for Bangladesh. The guest line up included Bob Dylan, Ravi Shankar, Ringo Star, Leon Russell, Billy Preston, Eric Clapton, Ali Akbar Khan, and the members of Badfinger. In Harrison’s honor I give you reprinting the post I wrote after seeing the Bootleg Beatles. – Jadi

One year when Uwe and I took a vacation in Asia, I jumped at the chance to fly early and visit my sister Pam and my nephew Nikolai in Hong Kong. They lived in the city for a few years, and Pam had made a game out of finding as many cultural events as possible.

We attended a Japanese hip hop performance, fascinated to see how a form that began with black America was interpreted into Japanese. We got tickets for electrifying (and surprisingly political) Chinese modern dance. Not everything we saw was good; we had to suffer through an hour of really bad flamenco. We fled as soon as politely possible.

And Pam got us tickets for the Bootleg Beatles.

Asians retain a fierce love of the Beatles to this day, and the Bootleg Beatles aren’t your average cover band. The Bootlegs are the Beatles’ first and oldest tribute band. They have been playing for over 36 years! “George”, “Ringo”, “John” and “Paul” sing and play, complete with costume changes to track the evolution of the group. An eight-piece orchestra backs them up. They. Are. Terrific.

The Lyric Theatre of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts is a classic amphitheater space. Our seats must have been the last three sold: Pam, Nikolai and I sat high, high up in the last row.

Once they started playing, it was clear why the concert was completely sold-out. It was like the Bootlegs were channeling the original band. My sister and I got up and danced.

But a strange thing happened: during the entire concert, we were the only people dancing. The amphitheater was filled to capacity with more than a thousand Hong Kong residents and visitors – and everyone was far too well-behaved to get on their feet.

We were surprised that no one else danced. Had we missed something? Was there some kind of Asian protocol about performances? We looked at one another, at Nikolai (sitting between us with his face covered, totally absorbed in listening to the band and not about to join us) and the proper people sitting all around. Like I say: we had seats in the final row up in nose-bleed territory. The only thing behind us was a cement wall. Who would it disturb if we danced?

So we did. From Please Please Me to Back in the USSR to All You Need is Love, we rocked out. Pam and I had a ball. There is something about giving yourself over to the ecstasy and joy of great music. These are the tunes of our childhoods and teenage years.

We grew up with the Beatles. The night in 1964 the band played on The Ed Sullivan Show, Mom came and got us out of bed. “Come see the Beatles!” she urged. I was a little kid at the time. I remember dashing to the black and white television set in excitement… only to watch bewildered as four men in black sang. Where were the insects? (Our dad Bobbo was an entomologist, so my confusion was genuine.)  Later the band and their music became – and remain – an integral part of the weave of my life.

These are just the albums I have in CD form. The others are records and downloads…

So. Fast-forward almost 50 years to an amphitheater in Hong Kong, and you’ll understand why we simply had to get up and boogie.

Before the first break, “George” said how nice it was everyone had come out for the show. He added, “Especially you at the back. We’re really glad you’re here. You’re great!”

“Hey!” I exclaimed. “Do you think he means us?” At the end of the show, “George” and the boys thanked the audience for coming, with “A special thank you to the two girls in the top row. You made the show.”

Some events remain live. In a parallel universe and all my dreams, I’m still dancing.

Love Me Do!

In memory of George Harrison, 25 February 1943 – 29 November 2001

NOTES: The Bootleg Beatles; Story and Photo ©2024/2017 Jadi Campbell. Previously published as A Boogie with the Bootlegs. To see Uwe’s animal photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

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.

 

Today’s Birthday: The Animal Kingdom Thread

On February 18 in 2017 I began a blog thread in honor of my father: The Animal Kingdom. It ran for four years (!) and over forty posts (!!) On the seventh anniversary of its beginning I’m reposting the initial installment. Don’t worry, I’m not going to subject you to all 41 of them again. But feel free to explore on your own. – Jadi

I dedicate this new blog thread to my father Bobbo, who worked for the Forest Service. On one of our last family visits we sat around and gleefully read out a list describing groups of animals … See how many you can guess. Answers listed at the bottom of the page.

  1. The shrewdness shrewdly assessed the jungle floor.
  2. This obstinacy obstinately refused to budge.
  3. The covert covertly hid, migrating only at night.
  4. The big bask basked in the river, seemingly aware nothing would dare attack them.
  5. In spite of myself I was charmed by the pitiful piteousness.
  6. The safe sought safety on the shoreline.
Obstinacy, Perfume River, Vietnam

Answers:

  1. Shrewdness of apes [1]
  2. Obstinacy of buffalo
  3. Covert of coots
  4. Bask of crocodiles
  5. Piteousness of doves
  6. Safe of ducks (on land)
Part of a piteousness, Hampi, India
Bask member basking, Khao Yai National Park, Thailand

NOTES: [1] All 22 species of apes, which include great apes and gibbons, are threatened with extinction. Endangered Species © Jadi Campbell 2017. Previously published as The Animal Kingdom: 1. All photos © Uwe Hartmann. To see more of Uwe’s animal photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.  Fun animal names from www.writers-free-reference.com, Mother Nature Network and www.reference.com. To see Uwe’s animal photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de.

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.

James Francis Durante + His Snozz

I seem to be writing a lot about birds these days. This birthday boy fits the bill!

James Francis Durante was born on February 10, 1893  in Manhattan. This singer, comedian, actor and musician (piano) personified the world of the arts from vaudeville to Hollywood. From my grandparents’ to my generation, Jimmy’s accent, laugh, and gravelly voice graced our lives.

Oh! and his snozz…. In his honor I am reprinting the post in which I featured that famous nose. – Jadi

I give you Installment #32 of my blog thread describing what to call groups of animals! … See how many you can guess. Answers listed at the bottom of the page.

  1. The durante MUST be named for Durante.
  2. A raffle is perfect for a Thanksgiving raffle.
  3. Have you ever heard a drumming drumming?
  4. An orchestra plays their orchestra on summer evenings.
  5. A trip seldom trips.
  6. I’d love to see an aurora during an aurora.

Long Beaked Bird on Brown Wood Near Forest

  1. Durante of toucans [1]
  2. Raffle of turkeys
  3. Drumming of grouse [2]
  4. Orchestra of crickets
  5. Trip of goats
  6. Aurora of polar bears [3]
Trip

In memory of Jimmy Durante, February 10, 1893  – January 29, 1980

NOTES: [1] I had to check that this one was real because I instantly thought of Jimmy Durante and his famous schnozz with this definition for the big-beaked toucan… [2] Drumming comes from the birds’ mating call, generated with the wings [3] Could the name be any more wonderfully appropriate for an animal that lives at the North Pole?!

NOTES:©Jadi Campbell 2024. Previously published as The Animal Kingdom: 32. Durante member photo courtesy of Pexels. Goat photo ©Uwe Hartmann. To see Uwe’s animal photos and pics from our trips go to viewpics.de. Fun animal names from en.wiktionary.org, www.writers-free-reference.com, Mother Nature Network and www.reference.com.

 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.

ZZZZZZZEBRAS!

I’m in LOVE with zebras.

It was love at first sight. When Uwe and I were in southern Africa I sent my sisters ‘Zebra of the Day’ snapshots.

We saw hundreds of them in herds, and  by the time our trip was over we’d spotted thousands.

We saw zebras in national parks in Namibia and Botswana. I was in ecstasy every day we were forced to stop to let them cross the roads.

We spotted them in the Okavango Delta from above in a helicopter.

Bathroom breaks were a gas station if we passed one. Most of the time it was just pulling over to the side of a remote road…. I took a memorable pee not 5 meters away from 60 zebras. They watched warily from behind the brush, but didn’t move away. I could hear them whickering to one another about me.

Funnily enough, (cue eerie music here), last autumn I’d decided that my next book is going to feature zebras. It’s still in the planning and thinking-about stages so I won’t say anymore than that. But to start the creative process I bought a zebra magnet at the British Library in London. I’m looking at it as I write this post: it’s attached to a stereo speaker.

I have a key chain I bought at a gas station in Namibia from the artist who was going from car to car. He carves them from soapstone and I kept turning him down until I saw the one that featured 3 zebras.

Botswana basket to the far right is Ribs of the Zebra pattern

I also brought home a basket with the traditional ribs of the zebra pattern in Maun, Botswana. *

Zebras are sociable, and intelligent, and cannot be tamed. Each zebra’s stripes are as distinctly unique as finger prints.

ZZZZZZZEBRAS!!! I shouted with glee each time we saw one.

NOTES: * In a future post I have more to say about the fine art of basket weaving in southern Africa! ©2024 Jadi Campbell. Photos ©2023 Uwe Hartmann. Uwe’s photos of our trips and his photography may be viewed at viewpics.de.

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.

Wild Birds of Africa

“Tame birds sing of freedom. Wild birds fly.” — John Lennon

When you think of watching wild life in Africa, everyone talks about the Big Five. And yes, we spotted elephants, water buffalo, lions, and giraffes, everything except the leopard (which for all kinds of funny reasons makes me really happy. It means we have to go back!)

The birds in southern Africa are amazing too. We saw an array of bird life so varied and exotic that halfway through our trip we bought a book on Birds of Southern Africa. It would have been too annoying to get home again and have no way of identifying them without having to spend days on the Internet trying to find them.

African hoopoe, Etosha National Park, Namibia

At our last lodge in Namibia, Uwe and I both spent hours sitting on the little balcony to our room. We were watching the weaver birds making new nests and feeding their broods only a few meters away from where we sat.

Along the Caprivi Strip hundreds of bee eaters live on the river banks.

Southern carmine bee eaters in the Caprivi Strip

The bee eaters colonies will wash away when the rains come and the Kavango River rises.

In Chobe National Park in Botswana, we saw herons, eagles, storks, and shore birds beyond counting. We did an early morning boat cruise and literally had the river delta and the rich wildlife to ourselves.

purple heron
African jacana (aka ‘Jesus birds’). They use their long toes to cross via plants and lily pads on the Chobe River
African skimmer. Lower bill is longer and used to skim the river for fish
African openbill stork, Chobe

We saw marabou storks who happily scavenge carcasses.

We smelled the dead buffalo before we spotted it. Then, like a comedy routine, the  stork’s head popped up from where he was feeding on the other side of the water buffalo carcass.

African darter

More birds to follow. In my next post I’ll give you Uwe’s photographs of birds interacting with other animals.

NOTES: ©2024 Jadi Campbell. Photos ©2023 Uwe Hartmann. Uwe’s photos of our trips and his photography may be viewed at viewpics.de.

one last Southern carmine bee eater

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.

The Song of Hippos

We spent a week in November traveling across the Caprivi Strip in northern Namibia. It’s this funny skinny strip of land with Angola and Zambia to the north, Botswana to the south, Zimbabwe to the east, and a landscape that shifts from the Namib Desert to the Okavango Delta.

the local residents

It’s one of the greatest places I’ve ever visited.

Where we sat and ate our meals

Our lodging consisted of tents on the Kavango River. These were larger and more comfortable than you’d think.  The lodges are off the grid, with electricity powered by solar energy collectors. The first tent had a fan and the second one didn’t. The tents always included mosquito netting over the beds.

The river bank was a few meters away, and I gazed across it to Bwatbwata National Park.

By far the best pieces of scenery were the hippos that live in exactly this stretch of the river.

That’s Bwabwata National Park on the other bank

I was astonished to learn this fact: Hippos can’t swim. Apparently they can hold their breaths under water for up to five minutes. Mostly they stand around in groups called pods or bloats (really!) almost completely submerged. They socialize in water up to their eyes and ears to keep cooled off until it’s time to go up on land and find something to eat.

Hippos talk simultaneously both above and below the water. I found them to be surprisingly chatty. When hippos communicate with honks, the sounds really carries.* They also talk with grunts and bellows and wheezes.

Each night I fell asleep to the voices of hippos snuffling in what sounded like quiet contentment. I slept more deeply there than anywhere else on our trip.

NOTES: * A hippo’s honk can be heard a mile away. Science Direct: Amphibious communication. The San Diego Zoo has a great article on hippopotomuses: https://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/hippo ©2023 Jadi Campbell. Photos ©2023 Uwe Hartmann. Uwe’s photography and his photos of our trips can be viewed at viewpics.de.

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.

 

A tin toy helicopter

Photographers dream of getting an opportunity to take pictures of animals from above. In Botswana you can book a helicopter in Maun to spot herds moving across the Okavango Delta. Uwe repeatedly mentioned how “we” could have the chance to see the delta from the air, and finally I agreed.

When I imagined this ride I thought of a normal helicopter, constructed of reassuringly thick and reinforced metal alloy. One with three seats in the front, three in the back. I pictured myself ensconced in a middle seat safely far from a sliding door that was propped open for the photographers. We’d be up in the skies for 45 minutes that would zip by.

But, no, the flight was in a helicopter less than half the size I’d expected. When I saw the little tin toy we were going to ride in, my stomach began to flip. Our tiny death trap had no middle seat — and no doors.

Thorvald, the pilot from Iceland. He moved to Botswana so he could fly tourists around in a little tin rotocraft

Okay, so it wasn’t tin.

But it sure felt like it. We were high in the sky, riding in a fragile toy helicopter. A miniature toy constructed out of some kind of light metal that would crush with the slightest wind. A toy without any doors or even a safety bar, for f***’s sake. The only thing between me and a sure death was the seat belt. And my husband had decided to go for it and booked an hour-long flight instead of the 45 minutes I thought “we’d” decided on.

“What do you hope for from your flight?” they asked.

I pointed at Uwe. “He wants to take pictures, and I just want to not faint or throw up.”

My husband was in the back seat in that version of Heaven photographers go to in these situations. I sat in front next to Thorvald with both hands firmly gripping the seat under me. Breathe! I reminded myself, followed very quickly by, Screw that. Just don’t pass out. Thorvald kept circling and banking so Uwe could get the best shots. Each time he banked, my stomach circled right along with the itty bitty ‘copter.

A lone fisherman. His boat was dangerously close to a pod of hippos

I looked down and figured, If this thing falls out of the sky, we’re toast. I might as well enjoy the last hour of my allotted time on Earth – especially if it’s not taking place on the ground. I made myself unclamp my fingers from the seat, and even leaned towards the (nonexistent) door.

The vistas took my breath away. Tracks in the delta as far as the eye could see, made and followed by migrating herds.

Verdant areas where the showers of the last two days had filled pools.

African buffalo, zebras and elephants roamed across the land.

Pods of hippos seen from above looked like floating lily pads.

When I was looking through Uwe’s photographs for this post, for the first time I saw this pic of two men carrying attachable doors across the runway. So there ARE doors if you insist on having them.

I don’t know if I would have insisted if I’d known that ahead of time. As it was, once Thorvald brought us without a bump back onto the earth, I looked at him and said, “Let’s go up again!”

NOTES: ©2023 Jadi Campbell. All photos ©2023 Uwe Hartmann. For more of Uwe’s photos from our trips and his photography, go to viewpics.de.

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.

The Black Botswana Battery-Acid Blister Beetle, Part Two

The following week we join an all-day game drive which involves getting up at 5:00 a.m. and sitting in the back of a safari jeep for two hours in order to reach Moremi Game Reserve. This game reserve is where we see the pack of wild dogs I wrote about.

The jeep holds nine people. We’re in fantastic luck, because two German couples have brought a personal guide. He’s from Namibia but comes often to Botswana. Uwe and I tag along for free on a personally guided tour as he identifies animal tracks and vegetation and gives fascinating and detailed talks on every single animal we spot. (A pair of sleeping lionesses, African buffalo, zebras, impalas, fish eagles, elephants, wildebeests, springboks, and much, much more.) He has phenomenal knowledge about everything – politics, history, the land, the region, the flora and fauna.

More wild elephants live in the Okavango Delta than anywhere else in the world
We’ve tentatively identified this bird as a Wahlberg’s eagle
Pavians. I hate wild monkeys
Springboks
When we left the Moremi Game Reserve 8 hours later they were still sleeping, gathering their energy for the night’s hunt

We take a break for lunch and are allowed to climb out of the jeep for a bit. I ask him if he knows about the insect life, too, and tell him about my encounter with the battery-acid exuding bug….

He asks some questions, cautions me to keep the wound covered at all times, and tells me, “It must have been a Mopane moth, named for the  endemic bush veld here.”

I’m relieved beyond description to finally have an actual name for what bit me! But that night back at the lodge I go online and the Mopane moth doesn’t look anything like I remember. Crap. My feeling of relief vanishes.

**

The next morning at breakfast Uwe and I stop at the table where the German couples and guide sit so we can chat one last time and say goodbye.  The guide looks at me and says, “You know, last night when I returned to my room, I kept thinking about your story. I called a colleague and told him about it. He thinks the insect was a blister beetle.”

I don’t believe what I’m hearing. After a 13-hour day riding around on bone-jarring dirt roads lecturing to tourists, he went back to his room and called a colleague to consult with him about my insect attack?! Who does this sort of thing? A man who is a naturalist, a professional always curious to know more, and a fabulous human being!

Back in our room I google yet another insect and sure enough, there it is: the blister beetle. When I brushed it off my neck, it secreted a blistering fluid called cantharidin. It’s a dangerous burn agent, and in large doses it’s fatal.

There are about 7,500 kinds of blister beetles in the world (oh, joy). It gets weirder. Male blister beetles secrete cantharidin as a ‘gift’ during mating. Cantharidin is used for the notorious aphrodisiac Spanish fly. In 1772, the Marquis de Sade was put on trial after he poisoned an orgy with cantharidin.

Maybe that beetle was trying to make love to me after all.

NOTES: ©2023 Jadi Campbell. This post is for my father. He was an entomologist and I swear I can hear him chuckling. Bobbo would have LOVED this story. If for some creepy reason you need to know more, go here: Blister beetle Photos ©2023 Uwe Hartmann. Uwe’s photos of our trips and his photography may be viewed at viewpics.de.

P.S. My skin healed over without leaving a scar. Thanks for asking!

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.

 

 

The Black Botswana Battery-Acid Blister Beetle, Part One

Okay, I’m embellishing the name a little bit, but there really is an insect called a blister beetle. I should know.  I expected dangerous wildlife on our trip – but, insects?

Allow me to set the scene for you. Uwe and I left the desert landscape of Namibia and crossed into Botswana.  We’re in a lodge in Kasane, having dinner at the lodge restaurant. Our drinks arrive and I watch bemused as something flies across the grounds in my direction.

The insect is dark brown or black, has really long antennae and a big wingspan. It’s the size of a softball, and before I know what’s happening it lands on my neck and begins to crawl down into my dress….  I bat it away. “Wow! Nature’s really something here!” I exclaim, or something stupid to that effect.


I wake up a few hours later and my neck is on fire. I look in the bathroom mirror and discover two spots where my skin has melted and peeled off. I remember the giant moth or bee or whatever the heck it was (it all happened so fast!) that flew a direct trajectory to where I sat. Suddenly I don’t feel as enchanted about the Nature here.

I spent the next two weeks wearing a scarf to hide the neck bandage

The next day I head out to the front desk of the lodge and ask as calmly as I can if they have a doctor or nurse available. “Something stung me or bit last night at supper,” I say, and show them my neck.

“Was it black?” asks one of the male staff members.

“Was it big? It comes every year ahead of the rainy season,” they tell me. No, it isn’t poisonous and I don’t need to find a doctor. And yes, it secretes a substance that dissolves the skin…. But they can’t tell me the NAME of the insect, just that it’s a black moth. A chemist at the Kasane drug store looks at the wound. He nods knowingly, prescribes a cortisone cream to put on it twice a day, and tells me to keep the wound bandaged. He’s  just as vague as the others: it was the black moth that arrives ahead of the rains.

I spend that night googling black moths and can’t find anything that looks like the critter that either tried to attack me or make love to me….

NOTES: ©2023 Jadi Campbell. Photo ©2023 Uwe Hartmann. Uwe’s photos of our trips and his photography may be viewed at viewpics.de.

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. 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.

Broken In: A Novel in Stories was  semifinalist for the 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).

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

The Great Tire Blow-Out

In Namibia we had to watch a short movie before they gave us our 4WD rental car. We’d never had this happen on a holiday before. EuropCar rental agency at the Windhoek Airport meant business: watch the film and sign a form saying you’d seen it, and then you’re handed the keys….

But not before you’re shown where to put the jack on the undercarriage, because chances are high you WILL have a flat tire before your trip is over.

and this was a good road

The roads are phenomenally bad, drivers go too fast, and before you know it you’ve blown a tire, crashed, or sit stuck in sand. The EuropCar film claimed that the rate of road deaths in Namibia, a country so sparsely populated only Mongolia has fewer people per square mile, is 50 times higher than in Europe. 

Oookay. Message received. We started off early in the morning for Sossusvlei and the world’s highest dunes. The main road out of Windhoek is fine, but the pavement quickly ended. It changed to a bumpy bad gravel road; most of the time we were the only car on it. In less than an hour we came across a jeep pulled over to the left (Namibians drive on the left) and a teary-faced woman waved us down. She’d flown into Windhoek a few hours ago, picked up her rental vehicle, and almost immediately gotten a flat tire.

No, I take that back. The tire was shredded. I mean, what remained had exploded. Of course Uwe helped her remove what was left and put on the spare. In the 40 minutes or so that we assisted her not a single car went by in either direction.

The black patch on the road is part of that shredded tire

I’m sorry my photo is so lousy. I was trying to be clever and use the panorama function on my cell phone camera to capture how in-the-middle-of-nowhere she’d broken down. But in any case: Oookay! The next message received! Always stop to assist a stranger, because that car could be you. We saw someone broken down almost every day.

It was a miracle we made it through Namibia and Botswana without ever getting a flat tire. When we returned the car to EuropCar 4 weeks later, they were surprised (and impressed) that it still had all the original tires.

This is my last post for 2023. Happy New Year everyone! May your only blow-out be the celebration tonight to ring out the old and ring in the new! See you in 2024!

— Jadi

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

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. 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.

Broken In: A Novel in Stories was  semifinalist for the 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).

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

%d bloggers like this: