a place where you couldn’t stroll the few dirt blocks to Alekko the Greek’s single-countered store (see picture) to buy luxuries like a small, pale loaf of bread or a can of tuna fish without exchanging greetings in at least five languages. A town that demonstrated to me that no culture is an island, that we must all be willing to learn from and to adapt to others, if only in order to negotiate with each other for the greatest available good.
When I returned, a little over a year ago, to this small town on a tributary of the Nile where I came of age many years ago, it was to touch base with past experience and complete research for what I meant to be the first of a mystery series I would set in emerging international peace parks around the world. I knew there was a national park headquartered in Gambella, and meant to invent a proposed peace park with the corresponding national park across the border in the troubled South Sudan—for which the Ethiopian government would call in my heroine to facilitate development planning.
Imagine my surprise, on talking with a ranger at the Gambella office, to discover that there had actually had been some talk about such a peace park, which was still going forward, though extremely slowly. Imagine his surprise to discover that I had seen the Balkans Peace Park Project mobilize volunteer and youth programs in support of a proposed peace park where three Balkan nations come together. When the Gambella-South Sudan project is a bit further along, I hope to be able to mobilize some international support along lines the park ranger and I discussed. I also hope to incorporate elements of its development into a storyline later in the series.
For now, however, as is the way of books while you’re making other plans for them, the focus of my proposed series has shifted. Under the influence of the town which holds such deep echoes for me about what it means to be human and living with others on this earth, my focus has shifted from peace parks around the world to the microcosm of Gambella, which I have always thought of as The Global Village. When characters started coming to me and whispering in my subconscious, I had no choice but to start writing the Global Village Mysteries.
Spinning Wool is still out seeking a publisher. I am still a supporter of the Balkans Peace Park Project, international peace parks, global peace, and conservation.
I’ve put up many of the pictures from my recent trip to Gambella on this website, on Facebook and Twitter.