Gratitude; Day 24, 25, and 26

Day 24: As I spent the last few days in Kuruman at 2 different guest houses, I can’t help but say how thankful I am for a shower. Bucket bathing is alright, but I never get 100% squeaky clean. Bathing in a gallon of water just doesn’t allow for it. So when I arrived in Kuruman, I was in the shower within 10 minutes or so of finding my room at the guest house. And over 2 nights, I had 3 showers and a bath. Running water is amazing, and a hot shower is a true blessing. PC has taught me to be incredibly thankful for showers, and I’ll never forget the 2 years I lived without running water! 🙂

Day 25: I came home from Kuruman today, and noticed a bunch of dead bugs on my floor. This made me happy. Why? They weren’t alive. And that brings me to another point: I am thankful for DOOM. DOOM is an insecticide that works amazingly well. I have DOOM powdered sprinkled under my bed where a Tarantula and Wind Scorpions like to hide, and I frequently spray DOOM to kill the flies and other insects. DOOM helps me keep my sanity, and helps me feel like my room isn’t likely to have a total infestation. Now, I’m sure I’ll find some horrible side effects from DOOM years from now, but at the moment, DOOM is a BFF.

Day 26: I am thankful for my stoven. What is a stoven? A stoven is a toaster oven with 2 burners on top, and a common item for SA PCVs. When I moved to site, I could’ve spent a few hundred rand on a double hotplate, but instead spent about R600 on a stoven. And boy am I glad! I enjoy baking cookies, making toast, roasting pumpkin seeds, or toasting a batch of croutons out of stale bread. It’s a small luxury I allow myself, and I appreciate this luxury a lot. Plus, saying “stoven” is a lot more fun than saying “hotplate”….just sayin’.

-Jen

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Waging War

The spider in my pan.

The spider in my pan.

I swear, this year I am waging war on the bugs in my room. Last year, I only dealt with small spiders, tiny flying roach things, an occasional dung beetle, and a multitude of flies. I usually let the things live, except flies. Actually, fly swatting was my main form of exercise.

This year is a different story. I came home from MST to see ants on my floor. ANTS! Ants can quickly infest a PCV’s room, so I located the entrance, swabbed the trail with vinegar, sprinkled the hole with baking soda, and DOOMed it all for good measure. It didn’t really work.

I’ve dealt with more spiders and bigger spiders this year. Spiders above my bed, a spider in my pan, a spider by my face, spiders under my pillow….this could be a sequel to “Snakes on a Plane”-“Spiders in my Room”. I’ve never seen that movie, btw. Everywhere turn around I find spiders larger than an inch ready to jump at me. I was ok sharing my room with spiders when they hid alongside my wardrobe or behind my fridge. But they have mustered the troops and invaded my space, so now I’m on the offensive. Usually I stage a two-pronged attack: a chemical attack (DOOM) quickly followed by a decisive tactical move (shoe).

Yesterday, after finding a large spider in my pan, I thought I had faced the worst of the day. So I settled into my evening activities, and while my glasses were off, I noticed something large and orangish scuttle across my room. By the time I had put my glasses on again, the “thing” had scuttled away, presumably to the only safe haven in my room: under my bed. I had no clue what the “thing” was, but knew I needed to kill it in order to sleep. I bbm’d a frantic cry to another PCV, warning her of the impending danger and making sure PC would know where to find my dead, envenomed body (not really, but I considered asking her to call PC if I didn’t message back). I armed myself (DOOM, broom, umbrella) and put on the proper battle gear (shoes), gave myself a pep talk (fought back tears) and pulled my bed out quickly and found…

Nothing. The enemy was taunting me. I checked the enemy territory thoroughly in hopes of taking the warrior peaceful, to no avail. So I pushed my bed back and began Stage 2: DOOmation. I spray enough DOOM to cause permanent brain damage to myself, then went to the other side of my room. A few minutes later, the “thing” came scuttling out from under my bed, and in the heat of battle, all hopes of a peaceful negotiation flew out the window as I STAMPED him to death, with a loud battlecry (squeal).

After death was confirmed, a careful examination of the remains proved that I still had no clue what the “thing” was. It had 8 legs, 2 huge antennae, 2 nasty pinchers, and the body of a large ant. I conferred with fellow officers of the Insect Offensive Unit (facebooked) and uncovered the identification of the “thing.”

It was a solifugae, whose common aliases include camel spider, wind scorpion, sun spider, or seladia in Setswana. It name means “flees from the sun,” presumably in Latin. It is an arachnid, and thought not considered a spider or scorpion, is a relative of both. It is not venomous, though apparently it liquidizes its food with some sort of super-spit. It’s not dangerous to humans, though it could potentially leave a painful bite with its pinchers. The one redeeming quality is that eats flies and roaches. I’ll think twice before I kill the next invader.

The bottom line is: the teachers at school are terrified that the earthworms in our wormery will bite and kill them, but told me that I should not kill wind scorpions. See pictures below and tell me what YOU think about letting one of these live under your bed.
-Jen

Wind Scorpion!

Wind Scorpion!

See those pinchers?!

See those pinchers?!

Camping

So, a week before I leave for South Africa, what do I do?  I go camping for 4 days.  A kind of nice escape from reality, but reality is fast approaching.  However, since I was a young child, my family has camped.  My first camping trip involved my grandparent’s farm, a tent, and a crazed wild turkey/pheasant visit in the wee hours of the morning.

As time has evolved, my family has moved from a tent, to a pop-up camper, to a 70s motorhome, back to a tent, and finally to a pretty sweet RV-all tricked out.  Now, camping with a flatscreen TV (although small), AC, and a full dining room table may seem a little removed from nature, but it is a nice escape from packing. 🙂 And I can easily escape to my hammock slung between two trees if I want to relax outdoors.

The 60-70 mph winds and severe thunderstorm last night were not fun.  Luckily, we had a TV and could keep an eye on things.  🙂  A tent would not work out in those weather conditions.

Anyways, since I am camping and thus on my last vacation before SA, I will not be giving daily facts.  I had to drive to town and chill at a coffeehouse for the WiFi.  But I love coffee, so it was worth the rather short trip.

I am also getting a bit used to being more exposed to the elements, critters, and lack of constant internet (which is kind of nice, actually).

So, adios for a few days, as I enjoy a few last relaxing days before I begin the “toughest job I’ll ever love.”

Oh boy, I leave in 8 day. EIGHT DAYS!

-Jen