How I Didn’t Learn the Xitsonga Word for Bat

Remember a few months back, when I posted a terrifying and hilarious story about a bat in my room, and how that taught me how to say bat in Setswana?  No, well then, you can read it here.

Last night, I was sleeping soundly beneath my mosquito net when I woke up right around midnight, and hear something going bump in the night….er…swoosh in the night, really.  I had hear the squeaking of bats in my walls for awhile now, so I was pretty sure I knew what it was.  I worked up the courage to stick my arm out from under my net and turn my solar lamp on, and didn’t see anything.  Of course, the light isn’t that strong, so I lit a candle then hopped out of bed to crouch-run to my light.  There was nothing, no flapping, no swooshing.  Nothing.  I went back and sat on my bed (under my net) for a few minutes, wondering if anything would appear.  Right when I was thinking I must be crazy, the lights flicker and I hear a swooshing.

Yup, there was a bat.  My first thought was that my family has been gone for the holiday, and it’s midnight.  I have to deal with this alone.  My second thought was that I could just tuck my mosquito net in tight and deal with it in the morning.  After a quick Facebook post (if I died fighting the bat, I wanted people to know how I died), and an almost instantaneous response from my sister, full of encouragement, I crept slowly out from under my net and began to pull on protective gear.  The bat was hanging upside down above my bed, so it gave me a chance to put on a fleece jacket (zipped up at high as possible), wrap my hair up in a scarf (who wants to have a bat caught up in their hair??), and my leather gardening gloves, I grabbed my broom and SMACK, hit him full on.

Mr. Bat hanging on my mosquito net....not cool, dude, not cool.

Mr. Bat hanging on my mosquito net….not cool, dude, not cool.

Of course, he didn’t die then.  But I think I broke his wing, which made things a lot easier.  After about 10 more minutes of battle, which involved my mop, broom, flashlight, and a can of baked beans, I finally managed to kill the critter.  I always feel bad for killing bats, as they perform a wonderful function for their ecosystem, but there were a few practical reasons he had to die.

Firstly, I live in one room, and while big, it’s like a dorm room.  You live peacefully in a dorm room with a bat and tell me how that goes.  Secondly, I couldn’t trap him in a bucket or butterfly net because my buckets were full of water and where in the world would I get a butterfly net in rural Africa?  Thirdly, and most importantly, I am still scarred from the time my mom took me to the doctor to get a rabies shot after she had a bad encounter with a bat.

Since my host family wasn’t able to help me, I didn’t learn the word for bat in Xitsonga.  But I did feel a sense of accomplishment that I managed to deal with it myself.


BTW, in case you were wondering-the can of baked beans was dropped on the bat from waist height with the intention of crushing him to death.  It was only partially effective….I need to work on my aim.


About Jen Lamos

Christ follower. Writer. Permaculturist. RPCV. Photographer. Gardener. Keeper of Chickens. Daughter of God.

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