Monkeys in my Garden certainly lives up to its sub-title “Unbelievable but true stories of my life in Mozambique.” Valerie Pixley’s gripping account of her life in the rapidly disappearing forests of Mozambique is often harrowing but compulsively readable. Starting with the shocking discovery of armed bandits in her bedroom, we have to wait until the epilogue to learn the outcome.
Perhaps the saddest part of this true story is the impact of deforestation on the local wildlife. Valerie witnessed entire colonies of rare weaver birds being wiped out by the ‘slash and burn’ desecration of their habitat. She observes, “You can reforest the vast tracks of emptiness but while it takes five minutes to cut down a tree, it takes between forty and sixty years to grow an indigenous forest. In the meantime, the habitat is gone, the animals become extinct, the fauna and flora die.”
Not all the fauna of Mozambique will be missed as much as the weaver birds. Particularly the Matacena worms, that memorably (and agonisingly) burrows into the author’s toes, with potentially fatal consequences. Monkeys in My Garden will open your eyes to the challenges of life in Mozambique, and raises many questions to which there are easy answers.
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