As we bounced and jostled the final few kilometers of dirt road towards our holiday destination, my husband and I were desperately hoping that this resort would live up to its reputation. Was it possible? After hours of sloppy, muddy dirt road on our side of the border, we’d crossed into the "Warm Heart of Africa" only to find choppy, broken asphalt. Now this! Was there really an oasis for weary bodies at the end of this road?
We drove past a large iron gate, and suddenly, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Smooth cobblestone shapes lead us towards the immaculate, grass-roofed rondavels at the bottom of the hill. We parked our Land Cruiser, ignoring the clods of dirt that fell to the ground, and groaned as we unfolded our tired bodies.
“Oh, John! Look!” My husband put his arm on my shoulder as we gazed in wonder at the lush greenery surrounding us. The cleanliness contrasted sharply with our own sorry state. The wheels of our suitcases clicked on the tiled walkway as we walked towards the check-in counter. A shallow pond with a trickling water fountain beckoned on one side, while a dark face on the other side greeted us with a smile and held out an ice cold fruit drink. “Welcome to Club Makokola!”
“Well, look who finally arrived!” We looked up from our drinks to see our fellow missionaries, Joe and Irene, draped in their blue beach towels walking through the reception area towards their room. “How was your journey? Have you checked in yet? You’re going to love it here.”
As the couple walked off hand in hand, I smiled up at my tired husband. “Let’s get checked in.” We needed this break so much. The last few months of ministry in the heat of Zambezia had taken its toll on us. A bout of malaria two weeks previously had left John a little weary. We were so grateful for the foresight of those who recognized the need for times of physical and spiritual refreshing for missionaries.
A few hours later, pool-weary yet refreshed, John and I walked into our master suite. A monstrous king-sized bed filled the center of the rondavel. The heavy wooden beams of the poster bed were softened by the romantic mosquito netting. Even those of us long accustomed to the practicality of those pesky nets, couldn’t help but be wooed by the allure of days gone by. Solid chairs snuggled into the round walls of our room. Everything matched so perfectly. The breeze through the opened window reassured us that we were in for a very comfortable night’s sleep!
While John checked out the TV with its hundreds of channels, I climbed under the mosquito net, and tucked it carefully under the mattress. My head sank into my pillow. “Ahh! This is exquisite! Come to bed, honey.”
John turned off the TV and the light, performing his own acrobatic act to get under the net, safe from all pests. “Hey, where are you? This bed is huge!” I reached out my hand towards him under the covers. His hand nestled into mine as he shuffled a bit closer.
As we whispered in the darkness, John felt something annoyingly crinkly just below where our hands met. “What is that? Feel it. It’s like a wrapper or something under the sheet.” We both picked at it curiously for a moment. In typical John-like fashion, my dear hubby couldn’t just ignore it. “Who on earth would leave a wrapper under the sheet? Hang on.” He climbed back out from under the netting and reached under the sheet. “I can’t reach it. Here we go … what? Huh? Hang on …”
He reached over to flip on the light switch. “AAHH!” A small dark object went flying across the room as John flung it out of his hand in disgust.
“What was it?!”
John grabbed a tissue and bent down to pick up the offending wrapper. I could not believe my eyes. There in his hand was an entirely dried up, hard mouse. “That was in my bed? How did it get under the sheets? How long has it been there?” Shudders ran up my spine.
Back to his normal, unperturbed self, John laid the poor dead critter on the table wrapped in its shroud and climbed back under the net. He pulled me firmly into his arms and reassured me. “Well, babe, we may be in Paradise, but this is still Africa!”
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