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Monday, 10 January 2011

The Curious Incident of the Sound in the Night

Have you ever heard the sound of a knife being sharpened? Shhhht, Shhhht, Shhhht. One of the people living with AIDS at ChoompaThis is the sound that woke me up at 3.40 Wednesday morning. My over-active imagination went into overdrive and I sat up in bed for a few moments, imaging the murderer outside my window. My bedroom window is always open but the mosquito screen is tied down (after having had both a towel and the curtain disappear back in December after somebody raised the screen and grabbed both). Now a mosquito net is an odd thing, there is a wonderful sense of security from inside it, so I was very reluctant to leave it. So I switched on the torch (thanks Zoe) and shone the light around the room. OK, it’s definitely not in my room and there definitely isn’t anything coming through the window but it DEFINITELY is coming from just outside my window. I thought to myself, “do I really want to find out what’s making that noise or do I just want to go back to sleep?” I did in fact lie back down, for about 10 seconds until I realised that no, I couldn’t just stay there and ignore it. So I got out and turned on the bedroom light; that ought to scare them away… Moments later I heard shhht, shhhhht. Like the idiot girl in any scary movie, I went to investigate the noise outside. I gingerly lifted the curtain and shone the torch outside. Nothing! No face, no knife, just darkness. But still I hear the shhhhht noise. I shone the torch downwards and saw, to my amusement and annoyance, the biggest, ugliest, nosiest snail I have ever seen. Yes, a snail managed to wake me up at 3 in the morning! The sound was it moving along the metal runner for the part of my window that opens out. I was not impressed! I promptly went back to bed where I wished a hundred Frenchmen upon the bastard…

I also saw my first snake this week. The bastardIt was only a baby though, no more than 20cm in length and green in colour. Annoyingly, my camera batteries died before I could get a picture. It’s interesting though that they are the one thing I am rather afraid of here. I am still in shorts and sandals most days and so walking home in the dark, with tall grass on either side of me is an ‘interesting’ experience. As the rains continue, everything is growing rapidly and so the verges of the paths are encroaching more and more. In a way, I curse spending Christmas day with a doctor and nurse because they started talking about all the amputations they have seen/done as a result of snake bites (forget anti-venom!) which of course is what goes merrily though my head as I stomp along the paths in the dark. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the walk and it’s well worth it for the spectacular stars overhead. Indeed, the night sky is something I am really enjoying. Most nights it’s either full of stars or lightning; both of which I love to watch. I just have to keep a weary eye on the ground, an ear open for rustling in the grass, a spring in my step and a prayer on my breath.

Til next time,
A mango-stuffed David

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