A special encounter


The evening before the start of a tour, I’m always to be found checking a pile of documents against the list of arriving tourists… but looking down the list, I noticed that the group… – was no less than a television crew!

The next morning… In the arrivals hall I found an official from the Italian embassy who had come to greet the group and who advised me to treat them like VIPs (I treat all tourists like VIPs!).

I began to wonder just who they could be. … all of the other passengers had come out: only ours were missing… the first two members of the group came… The others followed right behind, and among them I saw a face that I knew very well. I couldn’t believe… And now he was coming towards me and smiling…

Offering me his hand, he introduced himself… Not a word came from my mouth… I don’t know if it was mere surprise or complete amazement. I felt like my feet were ten inches off the ground.

He started to talk to me, asking me questions about Namibia… I got behind the steering wheel… He was sat beside me and the rest of the crew were behind.

“Tell me, Jacqueline, how did you end up here in Namibia?” For a moment I had a flashback… I replied, “It may sound ridiculous, but the truth is that your father is partly responsible.

… he said that every one of us, in our own way, could do something to take care of nature. The idea of coming to Africa was born from that.” And while he offered around some sweets, I added, “I have always loved nature, and I do my best to understand it. I try to pass on my passion for Africa to the tourists I meet, encouraging them to appreciate its beauty and fragility, to respect and protect it.”

While he collected the sweet wrappers, he opened the window – it was very hot. But… what was he doing? He had thrown the wrappers out of the open window! Him, of all people! Impossible!

Shocked by such appalling behaviour, I slowed down and glared at him furiously. Behind me, the rest of the group began to laugh, and the director said, “Did you see the look she gave you?

She doesn’t let anyone off lightly – not even you!” Just then, he opened his hand and showed me the sweet wrappers, still there. Now we were all laughing. This was no big star I was dealing with. He had a sense of humour, and perhaps he had just wanted to see what kind of person I was, and whether I really respected nature. From that moment on we were friends.

… his name… Alberto Angela.

Alberto Angela is a well-known broadcaster and writer in Italy.
 He presents factual television programmes about paleontology and natural sciences.