23 October 2007


(MCM, this bug post is for you.)

I just finished watching a stripey lizard try to eat a bug. Lizards and frogs are fun to watch because they pounce upon bugs and eat them, but sometimes they are even more fun to watch because they pounce upon bugs that are too big, or that sting, and then they have to fight with them, and usually the bug wins. One night, we watched a frog try five or six times to eat a big stinging bug. Every time he tried, he got stung. But he kept coming back. Finally he learned his lesson and retreated sulkily to a corner to watch the bug calmly continue across the floor.

Africa is not a place for people who don’t like bugs. I don’t mean that you have to be a bug lover and want to inspect every bug you see. I just mean that if you are one of those people who completely freaks out about an ant on your counter and screams for someone to come KILL IT, KILL IT, KILL IT, you will struggle here. Oh, you can go to Nairobi, probably, and stay in a nice hotel. That will be fine. I didn’t see bugs at the Intercontinental in Nairobi (the only night I stayed in a really nice hotel there, courtesy of Kenya Airways who routed me with an overnight stop there; normally I’m a guest house or guest of friends sort of girl). In particular, a rural swamp is not a place you want to be if you can’t handle bugs. I have seen some weird bugs here.

I’ve seen black bugs with yellow stripes. I’ve seen brown bugs whose hind section was a bulbous sack of golden liquid.

I’ve seen centipedes the length of my middle finger. I’ve seen moths bigger than my open hand. I’ve seen beetles fatter than my thumb. I’ve seen green bugs so skinny that they get into the mosquito net through the mesh.

I’ve seen bugs that sting. I’ve seen bugs that smell bad when you brush them off your shoulder. I’ve seen bugs whose oil burns your skin when you touch a path they have crossed.

I think I still hate cockroaches the most. I can handle almost any bug but cockroaches. They are deeee-sgusting. (By the way. Not-nice hotels in Nairobi? Are the worst for this. I once LEFT a hotel in Nairobi only moments after checking in because cockroaches were RUNNING OVER OUR FEET from the moment we opened the door of the room. Not okay.)

So anyway, there are bugs. I’m learning to embrace them, all but the cockroaches, the flies, and the green flies in the latrine. And the red ants that bite. Sometimes, if an outdoor meeting gets long, I just lean over and look at the ground. An interesting bug is bound to happen by.

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