Monday, May 7, 2012


I've been living in a minor state of fear for the past day and a half. It feels like I'm in a horror movie, where I know my house is haunted and at some point I will wake up to the horrible monster staring at me from the side of my bed. But instead of a haunted house and a monster, it's a rat. I woke up yesterday to find that half a loaf of my newly bought bread was eaten, by what I assumed was a mouse. I had a mouse in my house in December before I vanquished it. Later in the afternoon I hear a noise in my kitchen. I go to my kitchen door and there, sitting in my sink is a rat. Kenya's version of Godzilla, a huge mutant rat. A rat the size of a St. Bernard and resembling Rattigan from "The Great Mouse Detective." (I might exaggerate, Imagination might have distorted what this rat actually looks like. It was probably more the size of a Boston Terrier). It was huge and looked like it could take on, not only a cat, but a car. I, appropriately, yelled "Ahhh, huge rat!" It jumped on the window sill and went around the wall (a wall divides the window, half of it is in my kitchen the other half of the window is in my bedroom) and into my bedroom. Things just got worse. I run into my bedroom, push aside the curtain and for a second I think it's gone. Then I see it's beady little eyes. It's holding on to the bottom of the window like some rock climber. I yell again and it disappears. I quickly close the window. I run outside and tell Mama Mary (Tanzania mama) about my harrowing adventure. We cautiously poke our heads around the side of the building to see if it is still around. It's standing on the wall, head facing the ground. Completely vertical. Great, Super Rat; able to climb tall buildings in a single bound. I grab a jambe (a hoe of sorts) and she grabs a stick. I would like to say I gave a moving speech like in Braveheart, but I don't have quite the swahili vocabulary to pull that off. Instead, we raised our weapons and attacked. The rat got away. So fast forward to this morning. I hear something in my kitchen. I see no rat and my windows have been closed all night. Now rats are pretty amazing, they can fit in small spaces, eat through concrete. So I know it could still get in. Plus there is a chimney in my house where a jiko should go (not currently used as the place is too small and carbon monoxide would kill me). I think nothing of it. I have a meeting this morning and afterwards I go back into my house and I hear it again. So I head outside and grab some sticks. My group is still outside doing their table banking so I get a lot of weird looks. I normally get a lot of weird looks, but this time I can understand why. I'm carrying two big sticks. I tell them "Panya kubwa" (big rat) and show them with my hands. Mama D tells me to take Jeff to kill the rat. I move some plastic bottles and sacks that I store underneath the chimney and there it is. Now it runs into my living room, we chase it. I see my bedroom door is open a bit so I think "I need to close that." The rat is one step ahead of me and dashes under my bed. This is not what I want, at all. So we run into my bedroom. It's under my bed, I'm on top of my bed, Jeff is on his hands and knees wildly stabbing under my bed with a stick. Luckily we scared it enough where it climbs up my curtains and on to the windowsill and runs into the kitchen. It tries to jump back up the chimney, but Jeff kills it. I run outside, arms raised in victory. The mama's cheered. Baby Mary kept repeating "Panya Kubwa agopa" (scared of big rat). Me too, Mary. Me too.