Unexpected holiday(s) and giant bugs

Wednesday was an unexpected holiday.  Shortly after I finished explaining to my mom that the next holiday is Mother’s Day, which is the same day as Columbus Day in the US, I discovered that classes were canceled the next day in honor of Eid al Fitr.  According to my brief foray with Wikipedia, it’s a holiday that marks the end of Ramadan and is dependent on sighting the moon – so no one knows when it’s going to be until the day before (I guess).  Here it seems more like a national holiday than a religious one, though.  None of the students seemed to actually be celebrating a religious holiday, just a day off from school.  My perception is that campus is predominantly Christian, based on the number of Jesus songs I hear (in fantastic harmony) around campus.  Malawi is about 80 percent Christian and 20 percent Muslim; the Muslims are concentrated in the south and along the lakeshore.  I am in the central region, but Bunda draws its students from around the country.  At any rate, there must enough Muslims to warrant a vacation day.  (Kind of like there were enough Jews in Mary Katzenstein’s classes to warrant them being canceled for Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah.)

I wasn’t sure what to expect from a university holiday.  At Cornell, only the administration gets to celebrate holidays.  If you lose your ID, you’re screwed, but during Labor Day, Yom Kippur, Columbus Day, President’s Day, etc, classes go on.  Here, everything shuts down.  There were no classes.  Despite there being a lot of cars in the parking lot, I didn’t see any offices open.  The library was closed; I saw almost no one on my stroll through campus.  My meeting with my supervising professor was at first postponed, and later cancelled (again).  I spent most of the day puttering around – a little reading, a little writing, a little TV watching…and, a little bug squashing.

A couple people have asked me about insects here.  When I first arrived, I didn’t really notice any.  My arrival coincided with the beginning of consistently hot weather, which reportedly led to a population explosion of mosquitos – and maybe other creepy crawly things, too.  There was a gecko in my room last week; maybe he was helping with population control.  (Though he would rustle around at night sometimes, waking my mouse spidey sense.  My housemate, however, assures me that mice don’t live inside here.  Let’s hope she’s right.)

Anyway, the period of buglessness is over.  I killed a GIANT daddy longlegs in my bathroom a few days ago.  (I’m not sure that was actually what it was, but it was a huge, gross spider.)  Last night, as I was getting ready for bed, I noticed a huge and black bug crawling around on my bathroom floor.  I’m a live-and-let-live kind of person, so I decided to leave it and hope it would disappear by morning.  I also made sure my bathroom door was closed tightly.  This morning, I checked – no sign of the big black bug.  I turned on my shower to let it warm up (yes, I STILL have hot water), left for a minute and came back…to discover said bug crawling up my shower curtain.  Immediately I dispatched my can of DOOM (Africa’s answer to Raid, but with a better name).  I squirted him a few times, to no avail – he continued his progress up my shower curtain.  Whether it was the DOOM or the wet part of the curtain, I don’t know, but eventually he fell down into the shower.  At this point, I was feeling a little better, because I knew he couldn’t fly.  (There are some enormous flying stinging bugs around.)  I turned off the shower and dispatched my second weapon in the war against bugs – a Chaco sandal.  Needless to say, a solid smack and squash later, the bug was just a smear on my shower floor.  I am not, however, looking forward to future encounters.  I think the can of DOOM has instructions for fumigation and I may try that – early morning bug squashing kind of puts a damper on starting my day.

I was planning to post this yesterday (Thursday), but it was another unexpected holiday – there was no electricity.  When I left the guest house for the library in the morning, there was electricity.  When I arrived at the library (10 or so minutes later), there was none.  I camped out in the library for a while, hoping it would be a short outage – most (supposedly) are.  I found Bunda’s (very small) fiction section, and read half of To The Lighthouse.  I eventually gave up and went back to the guest house for a while, met with my supervising professor (finally), and even attended his class.  The electricity finally came back on around 5.  I’m not sure what the problem was – it wasn’t our scheduled time for load shedding, and none of the college staff knew what was going on, either – but power is back.  The hot water is out, though.  My week of glorious showers is over.  Keep your fingers crossed that this is not a permanent state.


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4 Responses to “Unexpected holiday(s) and giant bugs”

  1. Rachel Says:

    I hate bugs. Really. I was squirming in my chair just reading this. And Mother’s Day or “Columbus Day” here in the US…is really a great holiday because it is Rachel’s Bday.

  2. Linda Says:

    it’s seriously called DOOM? capital doom? you must bring some of that home with you.

  3. Donna Says:

    Geccos were literally everywhere in Vietnam, so I think that’s a good thing that you have one living with you. Even though they put their garbage into the gutters every day (somebody cleaned them up at night), there were no bugs anywhere – not even houseflys. I gotta believe it was because of the geccos. We have a friend who ges to the Yucatan peninsula every winter to deliver school supplies to the children there, and he told me about his last encounter with a 4″ cockroach. Then he followed it with an invitation to accompany him sometime. Not on your life!! I HATE BUGS – especially really big gross ones!

  4. Discoking Says:

    Great Blog!……There’s always something here to make me laugh…Keep doing what ya do 🙂

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