Freeloading in Zambia

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Pestilence or Potato Chips?

The seven month Zambian rainy season is beginning this month, and I've been enjoying some fairly strange weather. It goes from 90 and hot during the day to a cool 60 at night. It goes from a cloudless sky to overcast in a matter of an hour. The wind can gust at 30 mph all morning and it will be still as a church by noon. The rains, though, have brought the most interesting phenomena.

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.

16 Comments:

  • At 4:30 PM, Blogger Allison said…

    Wyatt Dean Ammon. That picture of the 20-foot mound made me gag so hard. I honestly have never gagged like that in my life unless I threw up. That was absolutely disgusting and there was no need for a picture.

     
  • At 5:53 PM, Blogger Ginger said…

    Allison, oh my God, me too. I cannot stand insect hives of any kind. My whole scalp is tingling. I just can't even believe that is real. I would have been on the first flight out.

     
  • At 6:07 PM, Blogger Blinded said…

    Wyatt
    after reading this post, and your post "the pit" i am now sick for the day...
    (bobbie)

     
  • At 4:11 AM, Anonymous endo said…

    All of my inebriated discovery channel watching finally paid off--gotta like those mounds--god damn you make me laugh

     
  • At 3:28 PM, Blogger Ginger said…

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WYATT! Treat yourself to some fried termites to celebrate.

     
  • At 3:32 PM, Blogger Blinded said…

    OCTOBER 19th
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY WYATT!!!

     
  • At 6:31 PM, Blogger kylakaye said…

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY MY FAVORITE TWIN BROTHER!!!!!!

     
  • At 7:00 PM, Blogger lauren e said…

    happy birthday! :)

     
  • At 9:21 PM, Anonymous dad said…

    Happy 24th b-day Wyatt! I guess we'll have to put the celebrations on hold 'til you get back. Hope you have a great day.

     
  • At 11:53 PM, Blogger Jeannie said…

    Happy Birthday Wyatt! We miss you! Treat yourself to something special if you can. Love, MOM

     
  • At 7:29 PM, Anonymous dad said…

    PS- this weekend I will have a fine bottle of Grain Belt Premium in your honor.

     
  • At 5:26 PM, Blogger CrazyEgyptian said…

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY WYATT! I am late to post it here, but I sent you an email early! I want to send you something, but I don't know what you NEED! Please reply to my email and let me know what will be useful to you and I'll get it out in the mail ASAP.

    I actually liked the termite mound - even saw a few when I was in Kenya on safari! =) I didn't eat them, but if you do have the chance to eat gazelle ... go for it! =)

    MISS YOU!

     
  • At 10:08 PM, Blogger Ginger said…

    Wyatt, YOU'RE a potato chip. AND a pestilence. Update your blog.

     
  • At 4:27 PM, Blogger Blinded said…

    you need to update your blog...

     
  • At 2:35 AM, Anonymous Jasmine said…

    Wyatt! I loved the picture of the mound and reading your crazy stories. I'm so jealous you are in Africa. Sounds like you are having quite the experience. Do you have a new address now that it's november? Post it please so I can try to get a letter in the mail to you.

     
  • At 12:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Had an interesting little read through your blog... I'm Zambian, spent most of my life in Zed, and a few years in my early childhood in Cleveland. Reading the blog I only realize now how truly worlds apart we are. I guess I've seen the best of both worlds and everything in between; the harsh realities of rural Zambian lifestyle, the relative comfort of middle class Lusaka and suburban Ohio comfort. I can't help but be more than a little amused by how culture shocked y'all are. But with my bemusement comes a little complaint. I won't go as far as saying 'get over it!' but I will advise caution in your writing style. Perhaps the son of a Kabende fisherman like myself might be offended? You are [perhaps inadvertantly] taking shots at a people's culture on a forum they will likely never see. Bit below the belt.

     

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