As of today, my book stops being mine alone. Now it is out in the world for anyone to see. I find this just slightly amazing.

Saly Portudal, Senegal, 1991

The only thing that could match my delight in learning of my book’s release was being able to celebrate the good news with my friend, Marguerite Monnet. Of the thirty years we’ve known each other, we spent thirteen as a team in Africa. Anyone who reads Expecting the World will get to know Marguerite very well indeed.

I’d never have guessed that we’d be together in Portugal as my book was being published. She’d planned to visit — making her our first guest in our new house in Porto da Espada –in May 2020. But no one in the world was going anywhere in May 2020. So, it took another eighteen months to get beyond No-Travel, Lock-down, Quarantine and three jabs of vaccine in the arm to finally get her here.

Happily, those eighteen months we spent steering clear of covid gave me enough time to finish writing, editing, proofing, correcting, printing and publishing the book. By the time Marguerite arrived last week, I was finally able to relax. Five years in the making . . . the memoir was done.

Marguerite and I spent our week together moving casually between the present in Portugal and our shared past in Africa. We wove our conversation about the people and events that comprised our working life in the 1990s into those of the current day — visiting castles along cobblestone paths, admiring azulejos in walled cities.

Marvao, Portugal, 2021

As we sat drinking mint tea on our terrace looking across to São Mamede, I spoke to my old friend about what it was like to write memoir, and how few women write “work” memoirs. She laughed. “Yes, but they haven’t done the kind of work you’ve done! And you refuse to be boring. No numbers! No jargon! Nothing like a World Bank report at all!” Well, that’s certainly the truth. “It’s about work, yes, but it’s also about the friendship that made the work possible.” So true.

Then, she leaned toward me and said quietly: “Do you know how happy I am that you’ve written this book? Keeping those memories of ours alive ? It’s a book that needed to be written.” To this I replied that I may have written it, but Expecting the World was her book, too.

As of today, though, Expecting the World is no longer ours alone. It’s out in the world for anyone to see. So, I’ll just sit on the terrace, sip my tea, feeling slightly amazed.

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