Monday, April 5, 2010

Rat Warz


My room here in Uganda is a bit of a zoo, and each day it becomes progressively more so. The first day at homestay, I saw that their was a pretty noticable amount of insects inhabiting my room. I have never been one for insects, but this is Africa, and I figured exceptions must be made. That night, I noticed a gecko running around on my walls during the middle of the night. I was a little weirded out by having a live animal in my room, and aside from shitting on my walls, my gecko doesn't bother me much once I got used to him. I have also gotten used to the rest of his family which have also moved in with me. Several weeks back, I began hearing a lot of scurrying around and screaching coming from my attic. I figured it was probably some kind of rodent, but seeing as the noise wasn't disturbing my sleep too much, there was apparently no way for them to come into my room due to the concrete walls and 10 foot drop from the attic hole, and my complete lack of interest in climbing into the attic to catch, kill, and handle dead rats, I opted to live and let live.

This was a mistake on my part. I returned from immersion to find that the situation has gotten completely out of hand. My first night back, the noise was unlike anything I had heard before. It is extremely loud and even violent sounding, and, unlike before, it is now keeping me up at all hours of the night. Mixed in with this, there has also been some light noises of things ploppingt on my concrete floor intermittently throughout the night. As it turns out, over the course of my week-long absence the rats have somehow learned how to shit out of the attic hole and into my room. The ruckus climaxed at around 5 AM. The screaching was unbearable, and it sounded as if a person were actually up there stomping around. At the end of this commotion, there was another very distinct sound. It was one of those things that, although I had never experienced it before, I was 100% sure I knew what it was. This fine morning, that experience was hearing the sound of 1/4 pound of flesh hitting a concrete flooor. After shouting something horrible, I turned on my flashlight to confirm my suspicions. Sure enough, there was the latest member of my zoo, only to my surprise the 10 foot drop had not killed it, and the light from my torch sent my new rat scurrying under my couch. (Sidenote: in what is one of the less fortunate coincidences of my life, I started reading the book The Plague less than a week ago)

Geckos are one thing, but rats are something else entirely. I weighed the options of searching through my dark room (the power was out) for a rat, or letting said rat wreak havoc in my room all day. I ultimately decided to get the thing out of my room. An hour and a half later, my host brother, Innocent, woke up, and, with his help, we had that rat crawling over my bare feet and out the door in just another short hour.

As you can imagine, I was pretty tired all the next day. When I returned home I was assured that both the extra noise and the boldly leaping rat were freak incidents. The rats had been up in that attic before and had never caused any problems like that. As the story seemed backed up by my own experiences, I bought into it. That night there was even more noise, more shit, and around 5 AM another 2 rats jumped out of the attic at the climax of commotion. I went to training even more tired than the day before, and later learned that my zombie-like state had been mistaken for withdraw from the program by the training staff, and that I had earned an unofficial spot on their Early Termination watch-list (ET is the Peace Corps lingo for a volunteer choosing to go home. Sorry Mom. Not yet.). Luckily the story came out through my language instructor Richard, and I was even offered a hotel room until the problem was solved.

Well rats, just as George Costanza concluded with the pigeons of NYC, "the deal is off!" If you think I will just roll over for some animal, maybe you should talk to the last chicken that got in my way. The time for pacifism is over.

Unfortunately for both me and the rats, African pest control is not quite up to my American standards. The only things available locally are some bush-league poison and what is basically just a tube of glue. The poison takes up to 3 days to kill the things and does not prevent the smell of decay like many Western chemicals. Who knows where these things will be in 3 days time... The glue, as I said, is just glue, and while, once stuck, the rat can't wander off, die in some hole, and fester for weeks, he can keep on living and screaching for a few days in his newly glued-to-the-floor state making both of our lives miserable.

Despite all this, sacrifices must be made in the name of good vs. evil. Unlike the case of the chicken, I will show neither hesitation nor remorse. I will not bend to the will of this freedom-hating rodent-facism. My resolve is strong. I am confident that I will prevail.

"We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We're going to live on! We're going to survive! Today, we celebrate our Independence Day!"


  1. I could not be more pleased with the Independence Day Quote. May be my favorite post to date, i laughed out loud several times. Sounds like things are going pretty well other than your rat problem. Sorry for not calling last sunday, i am going to try and call today or tomorrow.
    G's up

  2. Hey there Dude,

    So weird, we had a mouse in our house last week. The darn thing ate LIzzie's dress (literally ate half of her dress) and I thought the mouse was bad...I can't imagine rats. It gives me the shakes (like you and strawberries).

    Love you, as always

  3. This is both hilarious and gross, only thing I can think of is "stereotypes of British teeth" so I'll just go with it).

    Miss you!