Friday, February 23, 2007

Creepy Crawlies

We arrived two nights ago from Nairobi and were given a few days to settle in. The house we are living in was built for a man named Hans Zimmerman. He put up the money to build a few of the workshops and some of the employee housing on the compound. He stayed on the compound and the house appropriately has the name “The Zimmerman Guest House” painted in large letters on the front. I’m not sure it has ever had any long term guests. Mr Zimmerman is older and ailing now and won’t be back. The last volunteer here stayed in a house just outside the main gate. Not really sure where.

The house is so much more than we expected and has everything in it that you might want. In the kitchen there is a stove with 2 gas elements, 2 electric elements (they don’t work) and an oven (we haven’t cooked in it yet but I burned my finger on the element inside trying to see if it worked). There is also a small fridge and a sink. There is another sink just off the kitchen and a small separate room with toilet (thankfully western, even blue stuff in the tank). Another separate small tiled room has a shower. It has one of those electric shower heads that I had found so prevalent in South America. This one doesn’t have any exposed wiring like those down south, and the chance of a slight shock if you accidentally touched it while showering is diminished. In the bedroom there is a King size bed frame and a queen size mattress (that’s another story).

The bedroom has two small dressers and an open closet thingy. Over the bed we have a large square mosquito net. I treated it myself and am sure I cut at least 10 years off my lifetime while handling the toxic chemicals I used to do it. Supposedly the mosquitoes will die just landing on it, but that remains to be seen as I have seen none of the nasty little buggers in their death throes. The clincher is the ceiling fans in both the main room (not mentioned before) and the bedroom. I am sitting under one right now and would be sweating profusely without it. No wait, I’m always sweating profusely in this climate.

The windows to the house have bars in them, have nice screens and slotted glass panes that are always open to let the breeze and dust in. The front and back doors are behind heavy iron gates that are secured with enormous padlocks. When we are all locked up, it’s like Fort Knox in here. Its funny but they did a great job of sealing up the windows but the doors have gaps in them where they meet the frame. One is large enough for me to stick a finger through. Consequently, we share the house with many reptiles and insects. You never know what you might find underfoot. I am constantly stepping on something, yelping and jumping back. Just this morning the plastic ring from the top of a water bottle gave me a frightful scare. Geckos ply the walls gulping down copious amounts of small insects, ants march in lines to whatever food we have left out, Praying Mantis occasionally wander the tiled floor, toads stand watch at the front door, and various other small creatures roam the house. You never know what you will find crawling on your body and I am often flicking things off of me. They all seem very harmless.

Lastly there is my nemesis the African Cricket. They hibernate under or in anything they can creep into. After I put my shoes on this morning, I thought better about it, took one off, shook it out and a cricket popped out. I got over my bout of heebee jeebeies, felt something in the toe of my other shoe, took it off, shook it out and another cricket fell out, although that one was slightly mangled by my big toe. I guess they don’t like to hide together. Revolted and squealing, I made Cindy sweep them both out the front door. Except for the heat, sleeping night is a blissful time, safe under the hot gauze of the mosquito netting.

We are not yet sure what to do with our garbage. We will have to ask about that one today. I think everyone just burns it in the backyard at night. We do the laundry in the small shower room with two buckets and have a clothesline in the back, next to the banana tree. All in all a very cozy comfy place to live out our time here.