Thursday, March 4, 2010

I Barely Survived!

Looking back through the Africa posts I realized that I told you about the little plane flights, the driving on roads that are…not paved (to say the least) and all the interesting food and people that we met. But for some reason I didn’t tell you….
The BUG story.
Don’t you think that any trip to Africa should include a bug story? I do. Believe me , they have their fair share of bugs in Africa and I have the story to prove it.
So, we had taken our lovely small plane flight from Entebbe, Uganda to Bundibugyo which sits close to the Uganda/Congo border. And if you remember, I think I might have mentioned that Bundibugyo, while beautiful, isn’t really what one might call modern in it’s situation. Rural doesn’t really cut it for me either I am thinking. Well, African mountain region might do. Yes, I think it will.
We had a really busy day, only our second day in Africa. We had taken the little plane, or really it had taken us. We had lunch in Nyahuka. We had attended a AIDS workshop complete with local dignitary and marvelous, celebratory dancing and singing. And we had also sat in on work that Wyckliff Bible Translators are doing in the area. We were tired and ready to head to the hotel for the night.
We were staying at the Hotel Vanilla in Bundi, the best that the town had to offer.
I just need to remind you that this was rural Africa. The best is NOT Motel 6. It wasn’t even Motel 3. But it was a place to sleep and we really needed a place to lay our heads since we were beat.
IMG_3178A See that doorway? That was our room. You had to sort of go all the way to the back of the hotel to get to it. But it was one of the 7 rooms that had it’s own bathroom. I wasn’t complaining. Well, not much.
Not a big room, mind you. Just enough space for two small beds, complete with mosquito netting (which we definitely used). One small window that couldn’t be easily opened, not that I really wanted to because of the bugs. I tried to open it but I decided that what was going to happen was that I would cut my hand open as the window broke, get a terrible jungle infection and have a hand amputated. Actually I would have gotten very good medical care from the Drs. Myhre who were right near by. But you know how my mind works. This picture was taken while the electricity was running, which happens between 6p and 10p when they run the generator.
IMG_3174 Otherwise it is just candle light. That is why I always bring a small but powerful flashlight with me when I travel.
We did have our own bathroom with cold and colder running water. Do you notice the knobs and faucet at the top of the picture. That was it for “shower” purposes. And let me tell you, the temp of the water made washing a quick and rather dark experience. Bathing by candle light isn’t always as romantic as you think.
Of course the toilet without a seat was a real joy. BUT it was a flushing toilet so believe me I was glad to see it after the pit latrines I had used earlier in the day. OK, Pat’s “choo” was really nice but the other one that I had to use was dark and scary. I wasn’t exactly sure that I was hunkered over the correct area and…..
Oh yes, the bug. Sorry I got distracted by memories there for a moment.
So, we got our stuff settled in the room and then went back out to the “garden” area which also functions as the restaurant in the evenings.
IMG_3175 Lovely and cozy if a tad underlighted. Atmospheric might be a good way to describe it. And if you were looking for quick and efficient service….this was not the place to be. They all work on Africa Maybe Time. And also, they do all the cooking over a charcoal fire so things just take time. We sat, we ordered a beer, we placed our order which the waitress wrote down on a rather flimsy napkin. I ordered the chicken but she quickly came back to say that they were out and it would take an hour to prepare the next batch. I went for the beef stew. I would describe the stew for you but I am trying to get to the bug part of the story. I am sure you have by now assumed that the bug part of the story will never arrive. Let me just say that the stew part was flavorful. The beef part was old and gnarly. Enough said.
IMG_3187 While we were waiting for the food we were having a great visit with Ron Pontier, who was our pilot. This is one cool man who flies planes for African Inland Mission into some places where it is scary to go….like Sudan. He is cool and calm. Ask him to tell you about the time that he spent two weeks as a captive of Sudanese rebels. Wow. And because Ron is a “steely eyed missile man” he didn't think twice about picking up a beetle that was taking a leisurely turn around one of the potted plants.
Oh, I think this is the beetle that I flew those guys from the bug society into the Sudan to find.
I didn’t see him actually pick the beetle up, I just heard the comment. So imagine my, um, HORROR when I looked down to see this…
IMG_3165 Holy cow Ron, does that thing eat small African children?
Beetle Let’s get a closer look at it shall we. Believe me when I tell you that this thing was the 767 jetliner of the beetle world. Big, black, shiny and with these nasty little claws on the end of it’s legs. Remember those claws because they are going to show up again in a bit.
I will say that this beetle wasn’t all that quick in the crawling around department. He just sort of took his time. Ron set him down on the table, right about where my plate was going to be.
Thanks Ron.
And the beetle sort of crawled around. Encountered a pencil on the table and laboriously crawled over it, but not before sort of balancing on it.
We were talking. The beetle was crawling. We weren’t paying any attention. And that was when it happened. The beetle saw his opening and he took it.
He crawled slyly to the edge of the table and did a kamikaze dive off the table in a bid for freedom.
Can’t you just hear him…
He topples off the table……
Right onto my foot.
Remember those little claws on the end of his legs? He stops his downward tumble by sticking those claws into my leg.
My brain registers the pricky feeling on my right leg. That is uncomfortable.
My brain tells me, rather urgently, that I must look down to investigate what has happened.
Oh SHIT! (sorry. I know I shouldn't have written it but you...the open book thing)
And as I said that word, right in front of the missionaries I might add, I took a giant swipe at the big, black, shiny bug that was hanging onto my leg and knocked it somewhere out into the darkness. I must say that it went reluctantly, evidently wanting to hang onto my leg for a time. But I was not persuaded that that was a good idea.
I checked to make sure that the bug was gone and that I hadn’t soiled my undies. I took a restorative swig of my beer. And then tried to calm my rapidly beating heart. I just kept scratching my leg to make sure that there weren’t any beetle claws left behind.
About the time that I had finally calmed back down I look to my left to find that not only is the beetle big, black and shiny. But the thing can fly too.
Well isn’t that just fine and dandy. It spent the rest of the evening circling one of the light bulbs on an endless approach pattern to bug O’Hare. Always flying never landing.
Just so long as he didn’t land again on my leg runway I was fine with that.
And that is my African bug story.


  1. Ugggggh ~ now that is a bug story. The only problem with this story is that I like to pretend creatures like this don't exist anywhere in the world. Thanks for making me laugh on this bright and sunny morning!!!

  2. Oh my, sure it was beef stew and not beetle stew they served?

  3. I can totally handle most bugs, except the ones with far too many legs, of course. Like ginormous millipedes that live in tropical climates and get as large as SNAKES. I digress. Anyway, I also have trouble with bugs that absolutely should NOT be allowed to roaches and B.O.E.S.'s (Beetle Of Enormous Size). Kind of like R.O.U.S.'s in the Princess Bride.

  4. When I think of these kinds of bugs I am grateful I live in a temperate climate where winter freezing disallows such buggy populations! Ugh!!

  5. I knew there was a reason I don't

  6. You're NOT helping me with my desire to visit Africa!

    Oh, and to think the thing was flying around for the rest of your meal! Ugh!! I would have been SO out of there!

  7. (Bug O'Hare. You're too funny.)

  8. Those are some really big beetles they have there. Dung beetles are the worst. I loved listening to them fly in a pack, so loud. You tell a great story.

  9. I feel so sorry that you have such a poor and racist view of Africa and the people that live there. It's blogs like yours that create stereotypes. Africans have an amazing culture, but all you decide to write about is the bad stuff. I will pray for you.

    1. I am leaving your comment here although at first I thought to delete it, my blog, my prerogative after all . But I have left it because what you wrote says more about you than it ever will about me. Unfortunately you did not have the courage to identify yourself, nor have you read any of my other posts on Africa. If you had you might not have written what you did, or perhaps you would have, who knows. But I find that those who throw around the word "racist" often do so without taking the time to explore the person that they have so labeled. Next time, be honest and tell the person you are labeling who you actually are so that we can have an honest dialogue. Otherwise you are just a coward, hiding behind the false perception of anonymity that the internet provides.

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