June 29, 2010

Dried Impala Poop Spitting Contest

Did I get you hooked with that topic?

I have to say, I was intrigued as well when first hearing about this. From our 9-year old daughter Impatience no less, who was invited by a friend's family to a long weekend getaway in the bush. She went happily, social butterfly that she is, and we didn’t hear much from her, other than everything was fine and she was having a great time.

I wouldn’t even have heard anything more if her younger sister Sunshine, who chatted with her on the phone at length, hadn’t mentioned that Impatience had gotten second place in a "dried impala poop spitting contest."

What? This is Impatience, after all, who is known to say things like “disgusting“ and “yuck” quite liberally, even at the sight of such benign things like tomatoes or cheese. But her competitive side must have gotten the better of her, and so she proceeded to place those M&M-sized pellets on the back of her tongue in order to propel them out as far as she could. Apparently, this was not just a spur-of-the-moment silly kind of game, but something one does in Africa when going to view game. Google “dried impala poop spitting” and you will find other stories.

Why impala poop, of all things,you might ask? The answer is obvious if you've ever been to the African bush: There are impalas, and consequently their poop, pretty much everywhere. Impalas are so everpresent that most safari-goers don't even bother taking pictures of them anymore. They are like the background noise of the savannah, there but not noticed, because they are so utterly "unspecial."

Before you are too grossed out about this, think about the word "dried." It makes all the difference. do you have any idea how utterly dry it gets in Southern Africa, particularly in the winter months? Not a drop of rain touches the parched earth from May to October, and even during the rest of the year, what gets wet dries so fast you'd be amazed. After our first few months I stopped using our clothes drier and we hung our laundry instead, because a) our domestic helper insisted on ironing everything anyway, and b) the laundry dried faster on a clothesline than in the drier. Our garage was once flooded 4 inches deep after a big rain, and just as I was starting to tear my hair out over what to do, I noticed that all the water had completely evaporated just a few hours later.

So when they say that that impala poop is dry, you can bank on it. It's practically fossilized. Or mummified. Whichever it is, there is no way any bacteria or other life form inhabits that space any longer.

I’m totally loving the fact that there are such things as dried impala poop spitting contests in our new life here in Africa. One more thing to add to my ever-growing list of future fond memories of our expat posting. In my mind, I’m trying to picture the typical American field trip mom, big bottle of hand sanitizer in hand, and I cannot imagine what she would do when faced with kids gathering antelope poop and putting it in their mouths.

This is an impala. Doesn't it look like it's about to poop?

Nope. It was about to jump. They're good at that too.