Rodents love to torment me. Perhaps they like watching me come close to having a nervous breakdown whenever I find one in my kitchen, or bathroom, or below my bed. Or maybe they enjoy the jumping around I do (perhaps reminiscent of River Dancing) whenever one is running circles around me. Whatever the reason, they won't leave me alone.
As if dealing with them during home stay was not traumatic enough (seriously, it was quite traumatic), I now have a few large rats living in my kitchen(which, fortunately, is not connected to my main house). They are generally only there in the evening. And every time I have to go into my kitchen at night, it's like I am going on some sort of SWAT mission, busting up a meth lab or what have you. I cautiously push open the door and step back, holding my cell phone/flashlight like a weapon, waiting for a potential rat attack. When no rats charge me, I cautiously flip on the light (by now they are usually frantically running around the kitchen looking for a place to hide). Then, once the light is on, I will usually see it. And I will wait for it to run on out, or hide. Then I try to proceed with my business the best I can. A few days ago, the usual series of events took place while I was on a mission to get a bowl and spoon so I might eat my packaged yogurt. But this time, the rat didn't hide, and it didn't run out into the night. It just stood on a tall bar on the window defiantly staring back at me. When it became apparent that it wasn't going to budge, I ever so slowly moved forward with the idea of grabbing the bowl and spoon and then running away like a coward. As I reached for the bowl, the rat, which was perched on a bar on the window above, just toppled over. As I fear ever coming in direct contact with a rodent, I started shrieking, jumping around, and refraining “eww, eww,eww.” When the situation settled down, a little sanity kicked in, and I realized my shrieking may have caused concern in my neighbors. Then, a wave of panic came over me, and I thought, “What if they come over to check on me? How am I going to explain screaming bloody murder over a rodent? I'm going to look pathetic.”
Well, I am pathetic.
But anyway, I'm not big on lying. But I did decide that if they did come over, I would say that the rat jumped on me. I just sounds a bit better, right? “I rat jumped on me, it was possibly trying to attack me, that's why I was screaming bloody murder. Thank you for rescuing me” vs. “I was screaming bloody murder because I went in the kitchen and there was rat.”
I realize that my distaste for rodents probably exceeds that of the average person. And, though I don't like to throw the H-word around, I would go so far as to say that I hate rodents. But what is there to like about them? Granted, they can be of use in laboratories, what is there to appreciate about them otherwise?
Fact: Rodents eat your food. And when you're living on a Peace Corps allowance, losing that loaf of bread to a rat is quite the travesty.
Fact: Rodents are unhygienic. I don't have any real facts about this, but I know its true. Google it.
Fact: Rodents try to get in bed with you while you are sleeping. I know this from experience.
Fact: Rodents will keep you awake all night. I also know this from experience.
Fact: Rodents are to blame for all the world's problems. (This may not be a fact).
And if you don't agree with me, then surely you've never had the unfortunate experience of having rodents in your house.
One thing I appreciate about my own home in Mbale, is that my house (at least where I sleep), unlike my home stay, has not been known to have a rodent problem.
But a few nights ago, I had fallen asleep while reading a book, and after a few hours of dozing, I heard little feet running across my concrete floor. Though coming out of a rather deep sleep, once I heard the footsteps, I was sure of what it was. And after I confirmed that it was indeed a teeny tiny mouse, and after this teeny tiny mouse ran under my bed, I laid in bed for 2+ hours listening. I decided that if I didn't hear anything for a few hours, it might be safe to go to bed. And in my tired delirium, I thought to myself, “If I have to deal with any more mice in my house, I quit. I can't do Peace Corps anymore.”
The next day, though tired and maybe a bit grumpy....I decided I would not admit defeat. I would not quit Peace Corps. And, after an afternoon rest where I gathered up my energy, I set to setting some mouse traps, just in case my friend had decided to overstay his welcome (actually, there was no welcome at all, so he really being quite rude) Anyway, here in Uganda, we use a sort of glue for catching rodents, which works amazingly well. All you do is set the glue on a piece of paper or cardboard, then put some food in the middle....Well anyway, it works like a charm.
Incidentally, this rodent glue has also been banned in The Netherlands.
And how did I find this out? Because there was a mouse in the hostel I stayed at in Amsterdam. This only goes to confirm my point – Rodents live solely to harass me. So I told the staff at the hostel (who of course already knew) and recommended that they use the rodent glue. Upon bragging about how well the rat glue worked, I was kindly informed that it had been banned in The Netherlands. Apparently it's some sort of animal cruelty.
Okay, First, Rodent Rights? Really? I mean I love animals. Really. I even lived with a schizophrenic cat for 4 years who once attacked my grandma and I never abused it. But Rodent Rights? If rodents were more considerate, I would say maybe they deserved their rights...But seriously, this just seems like it's going too far.
Second, in my defense the only other option is going and getting one of the babies' home workers to come and beat the rodent with a stick. Personally, I think the glue seems more humane. But believe me, If I had the option to set the rodent free in a grassy field with wildflowers I would (I mean as long as I didn't have to touch it) Because really, though I may use the H-word when referring to rodents, I'm really not a bad person when it comes down to it.
Third, it may be considered by Dutch people to be animal cruelty, but whatever new method they are using for catching mice now is not working, as proved by the mouse in my hostel in Amsterdam. The Dutch need to explore other rat trapping devices – their country could become overrun with rodents if they are not careful.
So anyway, yesterday I set to setting traps with my Dutch-banned rat glue. And perhaps it was some sort of karma for using the stuff, but I managed to get glue all over my hands. No problem, just wash it off, right? Wrong. I spent 15 minutes washing my hands with soap and it was like I hadn't done anything at all. My fingers were still sticking together. I grabbed a body exfoliate and thought maybe friction might remove the stuff. This didn't work either. By then I had glue and exfoliating beads all over my hands and I was running out of ideas. I began to get worried. I was suppose to coach football in less than an hour, I couldn't show up to football with my hands glued together....Or call the other coach and say “Um...I can't come to football today because my hands have rat glue all over them and it wont come off.”
I decided to go and see the nuns and plead with my glue-y hands for help. I couldn't find the Sisters in the convent so I went into the babies' home. I found one of the Sisters there, who looked at me with confusion and sympathy and agreed to help me. So, her first idea was to pour half a bottle of baby powder on my hands. By now my hands had glue, exfoliating beads, and half inch of baby powder on them. The baby powder helped some but not much and after rubbing my hands with some sort of dish-washing tool until they were near raw...The cure was discovered: Cooking oil.
Well anyway, I spent about 40 minutes trying to remove the glue from my skin. And the moral of this story could be that you shouldn't use a product that is banned in The Netherlands, or it might be that cooking oil removes rat glue. Whatever the moral is, one thing is for sure, banned or not, rat glue works, because, if I can get stuck in it, it must be good.