04 November 2007

day 4 :: the plagues

The plague of locusts is upon us. Um. If locusts are grasshoppers. They are, right? I think so.

I have begun to see how the plagues on the Egyptians to get them to let go the Israelites in the book of Genesis were possible. The locusts? The flies? Those came north from the swamp here in South Sudan. People here live with them all the time; the Egyptians just weren’t used to them.

I’ve heard that by March, my colleagues set up mosquito nets over their chairs and work and eat inside them.

Right now, we just have millions of grasshoppers. At first, I used to brush them off when they landed on me, but there are just too many of them. Now I only brush off the ones that land on my face. I don’t even bother with the ones in my hair. They land all creaky and long-limbed, with a little thump. Then a moment later, there is a bigger thump as they take off again. They are so many that they sound like rain as they land on and take off from the tin roofs.

There are also millions of fireflies. Leaving the mess hall last night, all lights turned off, I turned back and saw a small tree, dark against the sky, lit up like a Christmas tree with all the fireflies winking on and off. I gasped and stared. For a moment, I was perfectly happy, perfectly enthralled with the beauty.

When I got to my bedroom, I did the nightly insect and snake check of the bed. I keep the mosquito net tucked firmly around the bed to avoid sharing the bed with spiders, cockroaches, or snakes, but I still check it every night. I don’t know what I would do if I encountered a snake in there during the routine check, but I can only hope that the encounter would be slightly more positive if I did it while the light is on than if I just crawled in there in the dark.

I seem to have had a grasshopper on me when I dove in to do the check, though, because when I looked back at the bed, there was a grasshopper clinging to the inside of the mosquito net. I poked at it and it leapt over into the middle of the bed.

I took out my contacts and got ready for bed, fuming and scowling all the while because everything is ALL WRONG and THIS IS THE LAST STRAW of so very many straws, even though I’ve been mostly liking this place lately. I CANNOT SLEEP IN A BED WITH A GRASSHOPPER; IT WILL JUMP ON ME IN THE NIGHT AND THAT IS NOT OKAY. I armed myself with Flying Insect Spray, but I didn’t want to spray it on my bed because I think it’s poisonous to humans, too.

By the time I actually got into bed, I had regained a sense of perspective and I gathered the grasshopper in a t-shirt and deposited it out onto the top of my suitcase lying next to the bed and tucked myself in and fell promptly to lovely sleep.

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