Pestilence or Potato Chips?
We got our first rain on Sep. 28. It was a short shower, and according to the Zambians was a "fluke." We got another rain this week, and I can tell you that there was nothing flukey about it. It downpoured, the dirt roads turned into raging rivers, and the tin roof of my house sounded like it was being pummeled by hail. It was two hours of sheeting rain then nothing. The sky was clear an hour later. But that's not the weird part.
The next day the sky was filled with what I thought were a bunch of moths. These insects were flying everywhere, hitting you in the face, running into walls, and flailing about frantically for no apparent reason. All of the chameleons came out of hiding, the village dogs were going nuts, and the chickens were pecking their heads off. These bugs were prime pickins, and everything in site was eating them up by the dozen. I asked one of our trainers what the deal with all the moths was and she replied casually, "Oh, the termites always migrate after the first big rain."
Did you say termites? I've always thought of termites as detestable creatures that live in rotting wood. The African version is an apparently winged creature that builds 20-foot mounds of clay all over the countryside.
There was another thing that I never realized about termites that I was clued in on. The trainer said equally casually, "If you fry them up they taste like potato chips." I had to call B.S. on that one, but she persisted saying, "Oh yeah! The village kids will be gathering them up all over the place." She wasn't kidding. Some people even get sacks or baskets and put them over termite holes to catch them as the stream out in a black cloud.
I didn't get the chance to try them, but if I had I probably would've passed on it. But I've been hearing stories from volunteers about how they thought caterpillars tasted like bacon and how they have been using their imaginations to try to add some variety to the HORRENDOUSLY MONOTONOUS Zambian diet, so in a couple of years I might just try to tell you that if you mix dirt with a little oil and salt it really doesn't taste that bad. If that day comes please feel free to slap me into my senses.