(I've changed the name from "Rants" given that I can't really rant about many things that frustrate me here, at least not without getting into some sort of trouble. As such, you'll have to wait for the book.)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Bugged


"I shall live badly if I do not write, and I shall write badly if I do not live."
-Francoise Sagan, playwright and novelist (1935-2004)

As I type I’m watching the Africa Cup of Nations final. Zambia and Côte d’Ivoire are in extra time. Good game. Priya is sitting beside me enjoying the match and scratching a mysterious constellation of bug bites. It happens from time to time here.
weird spider I about ran into on a hike this weekend
When I was growing up my friend Russ (and I think he reads this blog from time to time) used to be a member of a bug club. As I remember it, he had a wooden box with rows of various types of bugs mounted on pins. While I was fascinated by this hobby, I would never have had the discipline or the organizational skills to hunt, capture, pin and label them. My tendency would have been to pull off their wings or some sort of obnoxious practice of no educational value.
When Priya and I lived in Kibondo (NW Tanzania), there was a sink near the staff mess that seemed to regularly receive its share of bugs, trapped by the slick sides of the bowl. I have never in my life seen such varied and interesting bugs of various sizes. That would have been time to be member of a bug club.
Bugs come with the territory when living in the tropics, quite literally. Soon after returning to Burundi from the holidays, we were informed of an infestation of, in the words of the US Embassy, an “acid bug infestation”. The bug seems to have various names: Acid Bug, Nairobi Eye, Paederus dermatitis, Creechie Bug or African Rove Beetle. Strangely enough, it doesn’t bite (unlike my encounters with tse tse flies). The danger is that it produces a toxic substance that produces blisters or welts the size of an American nickel.
 I’ve seen them from time to time since we arrived in the country but nothing like what we did the past few weeks. Fortunately Priya had the brilliant idea of shutting off our security lights (those on the house rather than those on the compound wall) and sure enough, they pretty much disappeared. We’re good for now – until the next infestation.
The match is now down to goal kicks. Time to sign off.

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