Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Never say that the ants have gone

Who the hell was Murphy anyway?
Never say the ants have gone
One would have thought that by my grand old age, I’d know how the world works. One would assume that I’d know all about Murphy and his ruddy laws. But, a wise old man once said, never assume as it makes an ass of u and me. Quite clever that, and probably quite true. I announced to the world that my problem with ants was solved. The blighters were gone. Vanished, forever removed from my home. This was obviously a misconception on my part. The ants has just temporarily gone on vacation. Obviously, the messenger ant read my missive about the ant problem being solved, alerted his cheery general, who then sent scouts to inform the ant CEO, that I was gloating at their demise. The ants were recalled from their holiday at the coast. They were lined up in squadrons, regiments even, of every possible type of ant on this planet, and dispatched forthwith to my humble abode. They arrived unheralded and unannounced on Saturday afternoon. They approached from many different directions. The big black ants with fat obese bodies, managed to squeeze their way through the gap between bath and tap, and congregated in their hordes around the edge of my bath tub. Others decided to use their bodies to make pretty ring patterns on my toilet seat. A few stragglers wandered around lost and left out on the bathroom floor. But not to be outdone, the medium sized black ants, twelve abreast, marched in formation along the wall from outside to congregate on my kitchen sink. A few squadrons ended up on my kitchen bench top, and still others practised their camouflage techniques, to blend in with the black beads Siobhan had accidentally dropped on the floor and neglected to pick up. Then, there were the little brown ants. The poor cousins, the ones that come out of the holes in the woodwork, who marched solemnly along the door frame to hold union meetings on the margarine tub, and feast on the droplets of Fanta Siobhan messed on the counter top. The ants were back! With a vengeance! But, quicker than a prostitute slips on a condom, I opened the cupboard where aerosol cans of ant spray stood at the ready, and I went ape. Completely wild, spraying everything that moved, including Siobhan who was trying to beat a hasty retreat out of the kitchen. And so began the Pink Pather’s theme tune, “Dead-ant, dead-ant, dead-ant dead-ant dead-ant.” Rambo had nothing on me. I swept from room to room with my weapon of ant destruction, until like Agent Orange, I too was consumed by the vilest of tastes in my mouth, my nose streaming from the poison, and I had to stop. The moral of the story is: “Never say that the ants have gone.” That is tempting fate and we don’t want that, do we?
Weddings, yes, there are some people who still want to get married. Weddings in Tanzania are completely different to anything you have ever witnessed before. The first wedding I inadvertently dropped into, I was completely taken aback and not too sure what was happening. You see, I was driving into town, and getting ready to go around the circle, when a long column of cars covered in ribbons and flowers and followed by a pick up truck filled with cutely dressed men in waistcoats and bow ties playing saxophones, trumpets and anything else you blow, beat me to the circle. Then, while I sat impatiently waiting, sitting spellbound in my car, the cars drove round and round the circle while the blow musician men played jazz-sounding music. The lead car stopped, I must add – on the circle, and a bride in a bridal gown befitting a member of the royal family hopped out with her groom in tow with his black tuxedo fitting snugly on his muscular butt. A photographer hopped out of another car and followed closely behind the loving couple, avoided tripping over the marigolds in the flower beds and snapped happily away as the couple posed – on the circle. Africa definitely has a vibrancy unrivalled in many ways. Since then we have seen many weddings, not always on the circle, but always accompanied by the fanfare from the pick up truck filled with horn-blowing musicians.
We are quite spoilt here with game parks in such close proximity to where we live. Sunday, all new teachers were taken to the ArushaNational Park on the side of MountMweru, the second largest mountain in Tanzania. We went on the back of the school’s truck which is used especially for non-existent roads. I made the mistake of sitting at the back of the truck on the back seat. Never sit at the back of a truck when you know you’ll be driving through potholes a fraction smaller than the super bowl. Many times we went over a bump and I literally left my seat and jumped about 20cm into the air. Despite my ample buttocks and extra padding, the landing was never soft. I discovered that I had a coccyx and that if you land hard on it, it shoots pains up your spine. Another discovery, was that the muscles holding my head onto my body are not as developed as they should be. My head bobbled like a baby’s mobile in the breeze. Muscles I never knew existed are aching. Luckily, I avoided bumping my head on the bar perfectly positioned at head-height at the back of the truck. Others were not so lucky. Some were walking around school today in a semi-comatose state, but that could have been the celebrating our safe return afterwards. We did drive past a cement truck that had overturned completely. There was no sign of what he’d hit to make him spin completely upside down. It was like he was trying to do a stunt which had back-fired. But, back to the animals. Lakes filled with pink flamingos, large herds of buffalo, zebra, duikers, water buck, giraffe munching thorn bushes wherever we went – I’ve never seen so many giraffe, vervet monkeys, hornbills, crowned cranes, black eagles, colobus monkeys and warthog running everywhere. Thick tropical jungle, grass plains, lakes, waterholes and a volcanic crater and the cherry on top – a lone hippo out of the water mowing the grass on the side of one of the lakes.
Man, Africa is a blast! Last week, a traffic cop stopped me and asked me for my driver’s licence. I have to admit, I’ve been a little remiss in filling in my driver’s licence application and paying the bribe to get it issued to me without being present. To make matters worse, my South African driver’s licence was in my other wallet which was at home. I gulped nervously, imagining a huge fine or bribe coming my way, and said with a watery grin, “Jambo, nzuri?” Which is Swahili for hello, how are you. Lesson one, always practise the little Swahili you have, it melts the hearts of those in authority. The cop smiled, and asked again for my driver’s licence. I replied that I’d accidentally left it at home. He then laughed and asked me if I thought I was a good driver. Obviously I said yes, and he indicated that I could go because I was a good driver. Phew! But, the minute I got home I put my licence into the wallet I use over here. No use in tempting fate. Like I did with the ants.

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