Heralds of Rainy Season

“I miss my boots. They were sheep wool lined on the inside” said Agatha, the Kenyan midwife volunteer, on Monday morning as we woke up to pouring rain. All three of us had independently decided to sleep in that morning, not really wanting to brave the muddy streets and the drenching rain. Apparently, no one did as the streets were empty including of bajajes. Bajajes, we decided walking around later when it was not raining but dark clouds hanging omninously in the sky, are like a herd of horses – skittish creatures and can sense a storm coming. All of us huddled in our kitchen, armed with hot tea and shut the door to the elements outside. When we first arrived in February, it was too hot to even lie on my bed sometimes. We were like, “Why are there fleece blankets on the bed here and NO FANS?!” We thought the world had just gone crazy when every bed had thick blankets and we just wanted air-conditioners. Now, only a couple months later, it feels like the world has flipped. We are taking the fleece blankets out of the closet, the big fuzzy socks out of the suitcases and layering all the clothes we have. On Tuesday while we were having our tea break under the mango tree outside, I was wistfully looking at the co-worker’s thick sweater that was zipped right up to his neck while huddled in my three layers of tops. I wish I brought more sweaters from Canada!

Bugs swarming under the street light outside

Bugs swarming under the street light outside. Thanks again to Deirdre Nunan for the picture.

Like the numerous weddings last weekend and the increasing prevelance of people wearing scarves, there are also other heralds of rainy season. For about a week just after the first rains and before the true rainy season starts, the night skies just after dusk flood with flapping wings. Shortly after sunset, just after the skies become full dark, a couple winged insects start to make frantic circles around electric lights. Within minutes, the air is thick with them and you can hear the buzzing of their flapping wings.. It is surreal to look down our hotel balcony to the row of lights. It is like one of the wicker basket long lampshades hanging from the ceiling from a furniture store like Ikea but it is all flapping and alive. Neither Deirdre nor I are scared of bugs but this seemed out of a horror movie. If anyone has watched the new TV series, The Magicians, think of the bugs that hide the Beast’s face. The air is that thick with them that I could hide something and ironically, they look like similar winged insects as well! I think these are some sort of ant or termite in their brief and intense breeding season that flies up to any lights to mate and then loose their wings afterwards. They have each two pairs of large wings and a body like an ant crossed with a maggot. They are eaten by the Berta people, who simply take their wings off and dry fry them. Apparently, they have a lot of oil so you don’t need to add any extra oil. Bugs are actually very healthy and extremely high in protein. If you take a hamburger patty and the equivalent amount of grasshoppers, grasshoppers kicks hamburger butt in amount of protein.

Wings in hair = not fun. Photo credit to Deirdre Nunan

Wings in hair = not fun. Photo credit to Deirdre Nunan

However, this is not what we were exactly thinking as these flying insects were swarming and getting caught in our hair. We both ended our tea session on the balcony and retreated into our rooms, where I had found that they had crawled under the door and flying around my light inside. I quickly shut off my light, then the lights on the balcony so hopefully they would find brighter pastures away from us and decided it was time to go to bed inside of my lovely and secure mosquito net. However, there were still a few inside my room and I could hear their skittering, flapping wings in twitching away the darkness. Kinda creepy! In the morning, the ground looks like a war zone of detached wings.

“Oh god, they’re coming!” Deirdre recalled me crying out shortly after sunset the next day. We were approaching the insect invasion like it was a zombie mob. The first nightly pioneering insects had been spotted buzzing around the lights. We retreated into defensive position and moved our table and chairs where we were sitting and drinking tea off the balcony as we relocated inside the room. We closed all the doors and windows, stuffing clothes and propping up pillows to fill the cracks. Our defense wasn’t perfect because there was a crack between the window and the frame but it was a good pinch point that limited their entry and we were armed with our wonderful fly swatter. Soon, we could see thousands of them fill the skies outside and hear their flapping wings through the glass. Some would crash at the window in a frantic effort to try to get inside. Our battle plan was secure and we lived to see another day…another cold, chilly day.

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6 thoughts on “Heralds of Rainy Season

  1. I had this happen in Kabwohe Uganda where I lived. Never found out what they were called. After the infestation subsided my Japanese roommate asked “What does gross mean?” I must have yelled that 100 times. Gross indeed.

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