Tuesday, March 2, 2010


I'm supposed to be giving an exam right now. This particular exam was scheduled to be given last Thursday, and has now been postponed twice – once because school was canceled for a soccer match, and again because school was canceled to clean up for the President's visit. Now, the exam is going to be delayed a third time, because three-quarters of the students decided not to show up for school today (apparently, again, because of the Presidential visit tomorrow).

I am no longer surprised by any of this. I will, however, allow myself to cynically observe that the whole situation beautifully illustrates the priorities here: Soccer first, then politics, and then, -- falling way, way below those and a score of other things – education.

I won't lie; I am especially cranky because life here has been particularly uncomfortable lately. I didn't think that the heat could get much more unpleasant, but somehow it has. Whereas previously it had generally cooled off in the evenings, it has been unbearably hot at night during these past two weeks or so. Even though it still cools off somewhat outside, since I don't have electricity (at least not consistent electricity that I can keep on all night) and don't know where I could buy a fan even if I did, there is no way to make the air circulate through my living quarters. Thus, my room is hot and stuffy and very difficult to sleep in.

To make matters worse, all manners of creepy-crawlies have been infesting my house. I found a mouse in my oven mitt last night. Some kind of maggoty little bug got into my flour. There are roaches in every room. I have, fortunately, had some help combating the roach problem. Unfortunately, that help has come in a form that is even more unpleasant than the roaches themselves: large spiders and bats (which eat the roaches in a way that would be more helpful if it were not so disgusting, and if it did not involve leaving lots of small roach parts about).

Out of all these things, the bats are definitely the worst. They enter the house through the roof, and then fly down through a hole in the ceiling and hang from the laundry lines or ceilings in the bedrooms (though, thankfully, they have only invaded the unoccupied bedrooms – my own is still bat-free). And they shit on everything. The worst part is, the hole in the ceiling through which they enter is in my bathroom, where I generally do private things that should never, ever, ever involve flying mammals, particularly fast-flying mammals that have a habit of swooping down in a sudden and surprising manner.

Still, when I think back to the image I had of Africa before I came, things are not that bad. I had envisioned huge and hairy tarantula-like spiders, thick clouds of monstrous flies, and all manner of venomous snakes and scorpions (the latter two of which I do see, but rarely -- and when I do, they are usually dead, and never in my house). I pictured giant rats in my bedroom and hordes of loudly buzzing mosquitoes keeping me awake at night (thankfully, there are very few mosquitoes, though I still religiously take my Lariam and sleep with a net). So in comparison to that, what's a few roaches, some spiders that rarely leave the dark corners of my house, a cute little mouse, and a bat or two that usually stay confined to my attic . . .?

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