13 June 2008


13 June

Today my evening shower was like a Discovery Channel special.
This may not be work safe – how does your boss feel about insect mating habits?

In Togo, where most places do not have running water, I have had to master the ‘bucket shower’. It’s not that hard – big bucket of water (usually cold), little tub with lid to hold soap and your eponge (sponge – it’s string knotted together in such a way that it’s nice and stretchy), and a cup or bowl with a handle. These are the tools of the trade.

Unfortunately as I am not with you, I cannot demonstrate the technique, as the very lovely volunteer, M, did for us at training. (The subsequent item on the agenda was ‘how to use your latrine’ during which the volunteer cheerily told us how fun it was to name your resident cockroaches.)

Back to tonight’s exciting special...

I was heading out, wrapped in a pagne, wearing nothing else but my trusty tapettes (flip-flops) when I noticed a flapping sound resonating in the air. I glanced up at the light and saw hundred of flying insects gathering around the light on the wall (yes, I have electricity – awesome!) My amazement was abruptly cut short when I suddenly had several insects flying toward me, seeking the bright light emanating from my forehead. Oh yes, my trusty headlamp led me into paths of yikes. I successfully refrained from shrieking while I quickly turned off the lamp and skittered away to check on the situation in the ‘shower room’ (which is simply a small cement-enclosed space with two stalls with no doors) Sure enough, my host sister had very kindly turned on the light in the shower and the shower was now serving as a gathering house for the insects.

I turned around and headed back to my room, having decided to check again in half an hour to see if the situation had improved or else forego a shower entirely. My sister saw me turning away and asked what was wrong. So I waddled about more nearly naked showing her the beaucoup beaucoup insects and she brought out a candle for me to use instead of the light, in the hope that the candle would be less attractive. As she was sweeping out the shower of the multitudes of bugs, I noticed that she was only sweeping up the wings – the insects had shed their wings in the midst of mating and were now only crawling along the ground, attached to one another in quintessential Discovery Channel copulation.

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