May 5, 2010

Observations on Local Wildlife - Part I

As I was lying in bed all night, wide awake, at times squeezed from both sides by equally wide awake (and fidgety) children, I had ample opportunity to listen to the animal sounds wafting trough the open windows: A variety of birds, one of which sounds JUST like Kevin in the movie UP, a meowing cat, and in response to the cat’s calls a small dog’s hectic bark. Looks like we’ve got all the bases covered regarding neighbors with noisy pets. The bird, I found out later, is called a Haw-di-daw or something similar, and is the only member of the Ibis family to make a sound (preferably on newly-moved-in expat rooftops). But my true intro to South African wildlife came the next morning. Spotting an electric water-boiler amongst our rental equipment, I decided to make tea. I filled the kettle with water, stood it on the heating element, and turned it on. So far so good. But when it had come to a boil and I wanted to pour it into the teapot, the whole kettle erupted in crazy movement. Thousands of tiny ants were crawling from some hidden crevices under the hinge of the lid and soon swarming all the way up my arm. If I were one to scream, this would have been a fitting moment. But I am not, so I simply dumped everything into the sink and proceeded to rinse it out. It was not that simple, however, and took submerging the entire contraption for the rest of the day in soapy water to successfully flush out all its unwanted inhabitants. Needless to say, I never quite got to enjoy a peaceful cup of tea that day. Instead, I proceeded to write my first shopping list, with ant killer as its very first item.