Sunday, June 10, 2007

Interesting experiences abound when you’re bound for Africa…

Before I left Charlottesville, to quell everyone’s anxieties about my safety as a woman traveling alone in Africa, I stopped by the local sketchy gun shop on 29-North to pick up some pepper spray (you know…normal). I had no idea before I stepped through the iron-barred doorway that I was in for a treat! A large toothless man behind the counter immediately took interest in my travel situation. His concern for my safety started off as endearing and dissolved pretty rapidly into disconcerting. Partly to humor him, and partly out of amusement and interest, I endured a 30-minute self-defense lesson on “how to cut and how to kill” with a knife. I stood there in the middle of the gun shop, flipping a switch-blade and slicing it through the air—first, to cut the assailing arm, and second, if the attacker persisted, to slice the throat. I nodded comprehension as he explained why serrated edges are better –they don’t just cut cleanly, they rip the skin. To his disappointment, I didn’t purchase a switch-blade. Instead, I left the shop with my pepper spray—reflecting on what I had just witnessed. For him, Africa is still the ‘heart of darkness’—a dangerous, dirty place that he wouldn’t conceive of visiting. Perhaps I’m naïve to think I can travel safely with just my wits and my spray, but I am certainly not going into this preparing for murder.


Dick Grefe said...


This is exciting!
Thanks for thinking of me -- and for the nice words in this artcile.

Would it be OK with you if I put a link to your blog on this page in our Web site?

I feel very proud of what you are doing. The very best of luck to you -- wherever you are.

J. Tyler Dickovick said...

Logan -- You may still find the knife lesson useful: there's at least an even chance you will participate in the ceremonial pre-feast slaughter of a small goat (or even chicken). The Library deserves at least one such "sacrifice". And that's coming from a long-time (ex-)vegetarian...

Best -- take care,