Trials and tribulations of life in Zambia

Ann Patras with  the first two installments of her trilogy of books about her bizarre  life in Africa
Ann Patras with the first two installments of her trilogy of books about her bizarre life in Africa / SUR
  • A local resident has published the second instalment of a trilogy of books that reveal her unusual lifestyle in Africa during the 80s

In 1980, Ann Patras decided it was time to do something different with her life, and so she rounded up her family and headed to Zambia.

Initially on a two-year contact, the family eventually left Zambia in 1989, moving down to South Africa where they lived for 22 years.

Originally from Burton upon Trent, Ann has a penchant to take awkward, near disastrous or embarrassing situations, and make them funny.

For some odd reason there seems to have been quite a few of these in her life, and they have become the basis for a trilogy of books.

Always a keen letter writer, Ann often entertained her friends with tales of various adventures and calamities, and she was constantly nagged to write a book about her life in Africa.

The first in the series, 'Into Africa with 3 Kids, 13 Crates and a Husband', was released in 2015, and it describes the family's first year as expats in Africa.

She has recently released the second in the series, 'More Into Africa with 3 Kids, some Dogs and a Husband'.

The book is full of tales of their rather bizarre lifestyle over a three-year period, when they invariably seem to find themselves in some sort of pickle.

Her books are neither travelogues nor indepth looks at African culture. They are about a family who moved to Zambia with no idea of what was ahead.

The 67-year-old author now lives in Alhaurín el Grande, and she is currently working on the final installment of her trilogy of books about Zambia.

Ann reveals that her writing routine is absurdly haphazard, following no set time, duration or location. However, she prefers to write outside.

"You'll find me sitting at a weird tiled table, trying to ignore the attentions of our two big dogs, the yapping of neighbours' hounds or the distractions of a husband," Ann says with a hint of humour.

Her source material was the carbon copies of letters she had written to family and friends while living in Zambia.

She is forever grateful that her legal training disciplined her in the routine of taking copies of all correspondence.

Were it not for those copy letters, she says she would never have remembered many of the crazy incidents which happened to them.

"Sometimes the contents of the letters have me chuckling to the point of utter distraction, as I am reminded of some silly incident or naïve remark. But they do still provide me with essential material," Ann explains.

The first book in the trilogy has been a best-seller on Amazon and she is hoping that the new one will do the same. In the meantime, she'll be keeping busy with the next one.

"My second book continues with tales of incidents in our rather unusual lifestyle, most of which have been accredited by my readers as being very funny," Ann says with a smile.

Ann will be launching her second book at the Cafe Boulevard in La Cala de Mijas, from 6.30pm on Thursday 26 January.