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James Michener Didn’t Have One, Either
I just finished reading “The Shocking Slaughter of Africa’s Wildlife” in the UNESCO Courier (A publication of The United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization). Destruction of the animals’ natural habitats is described in tragic detail.
We’ll take the girls before it’s gone, I decided. A few weeks later the five of us were on the plane to South Africa. (The five: my husband, our daughter on summer break from college, our daughter on summer break from high school, my sister, and I.) South Africa was chosen because the animal habitats were still largely protected by the large game reserves and Kruger National Park. Once we arrived in Johannesburg, I was anxious to depart the plane. This was my second trip to a continent that I loved. As soon as I inhaled my first breath off the plane, I knew I was in this special place called Africa. Nowhere on Earth smells the same. When I breathed in the aroma of human, animal, and life itself, it reaffirmed my belief that this is where it all began.
We rented a van to drive to the Mala Mala Kirkmans Kamp Reserve in the Eastern Transvaal of South Africa. Mala Mala shares a common border of 26 miles with Kruger National Park making the reserve the ideal place to view rhino, lion, leopard, elephant, giraffe, cheetah, and buffalo. Awakening the next morning in our bungalows complete with thatch roofs, we began our photographic safari conducted in an open-four wheel drive Land Rover. From a temporary standoff with a herd of elephants to a dusk observation of a pride of lions, our safari was beyond expectations. Even the meals taken in the open top, side reed enclosed boma were suburb, especially the malva pudding which James Michener mentioned so often in “The Covenant.” Before we leave, I reminded myself, ask for the recipe.
As it happened, it wasn’t until we arrived home that I realized I had forgotten to ask. I wrote to our guide to please send the recipe. Several weeks passed with no answer. “The Covenant” came to mind. Surely, James Michener wouldn’t leave South Africa without the recipe so I wrote him.
“I regret that I do not have the recipe for the pudding,” he answered. “I do hope you find it.”
It’s always the darkest before the dawn. The next day a letter arrived from our guide. I shared the recipe with James Michener.