Saturday 10 May 2014

Camera Actress, Meet Lady Traveller

One Lady Traveller meets another: this is me in the library of the wonderful museum and archive at Morija, Lesotho - and the book is 'A Camera Actress in the Wilds of Togoland' by Meg Gehrts, first published in 1915.  Oh yes.  I did resist the urge to run off with the book (not least because there were witnesses) plus I discovered that you could find it on Project Gutenberg.

In honour of Miss Gehrts I present you with a useful hint for travelling in the wilds of Lesotho: never, never, never travel in warm countries without mosquito repellent and anti-histamines.  Lesotho is not a malarial area (say that ten times fast) but my little sister and I proved to be a rare delicacy for the local mosquito population.  Despite our best efforts in swathing ourselves in layers of clothes, dousing our clothes with citronella and wielding the local, industrial strength bug spray, we were both bitten everywhere.  I spent my flight home enduring that unique form of torture known as 'scratch and be damned': is a moment's relief worth even worse itching than before?

I could have used a good book on that flight, to take my mind of the itching.  Especially one that starts off like this:
In the beginning, when I first went out to West Africa, it had never entered into my head for a single instant that my experiences there might form the subject of a book. But I fell into the habit of keeping a diary of my journeyings, and afterwards many of my friends, as also other people in a position to judge, seemed to think it almost a pity that the adventures and impressions of the first white woman to travel through Togoland from the sea to the northern border and back again, should go unrecorded. 

Miss Gehrts and I lead very different lives, but it's true that we are united by our habit of keeping a diary of our journeyings.  

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