von Wilcox is a very special, very remarkable woman. Almitra was a
San diego housewife until her children were grown. Then she decided to
see the world by walking across it from tribal village to tribal village,
photographing it as she goes. She is now posting her photographs, together
with a weekly diary, on the Internet for all to share. I first met Almitra,
in between Africa and Australia, at the Kilgos house. The Kilgos are retired
teachers (university and middle-school) who generally have some global
guests visiting them from afar. Almitra had just finished the first leg
of her global walk-about, having walked the length of the African continent.
Her most hair-raising experience came one evening in central Africa. She
was walking at dusk along a deserted dirt road from one village to the
next when she realized that someone was stalking her, slipping from bush
to bush and from tree-trunk to tree-trunk. She was frightened, but she
finally decided to beard the lion in his den. She walked up to the young
African male who was stalking her, thrust out her camera to him, and said,
"Please, would you mind carrying this for a little while. I'm so tired!"
Faced with this mother-figure, and bound by male chivalry, the young man
carried her camera for her to the next village, where he introduced her
to his mother. His mother invited Almitra to spend the night with them.
The next morning, the young African escorted Almitra to the next village
up the line to make sure that she arrived safely. (He did indeed prey on
tourists, but Almitra had become "one of us".)
From Africa, Almitra proceeded to walk across Australia, spending three weeks as a cook at a cattle station, and visiting the aborigines along the way. When she was taking her long walk across the Outback, truck drivers would stop, get out the fixins' for a picnic, and eat with her. They kept up with approximately where she would be, and they made it a point to watch over her. When she finished her Australian hike, the Prime Minister of Australia nonored her, and presented her with an Aussie hat.
From Australia, she embarked for New Guinea. Her experiences and friendships in New Guinea are what you'll find currently on display at her website.
Almitra returned to Huntsville for Christmas, staying with her son, Richard, who lives here in town. She had contracted malaria while in New Guinea. We saw her twice before she departed for her next port-of-call: mainland China. However, we didn't hear from her for a while, and have recently learned that she suffered a severe malaria attack that took her out of operation for about a month. She is now planning to visit New Zealand before tackling China. Her China odyssey will include a visit to the Great Wall. From China, she plans to emigrate to South Viet Nam, and thence, to other parts of Asia.
When Almitra's children were small and she was a young widow, she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. For six months, she was dependent upon kidney dialysis. She had made arrangements for a couple to adopt her children and care for them after her death. When the couple were on their way to pick up her children, they were both killed in an automobile accident. Almitra decided that she couldn't afford to die, and that this was a sign. She proceeded to fully recover.
Above: Almitra escorted by two gallant souls, Abby and July, on their way to Kohlonoboi Village.
Right: Kindly "99-year-old" Amos, who was especially dear to Almitra. (He's actually two years younger than Almitra.)
"The treacherous beach along the road to Kohlonoboi village looked picture perfect." (Knife-sharp coral forms the sea-bottom instead of sand.)
Below: The "Highlands" of New Guinea
(on the Road to Mandalay).