The dirty details of the Rabid Dogs, how to avoid cockroaches and why stepping on a “Sudanese Landmine” is a bad move. Warning! Do not read this latest blog post if you are about to get stuck into your Pret A Manger…
I’m outside completing my daily writing task, inside my tent it is still uncomfortably hot having sat baking in the sun all day. The air outside is cooler, it’s almost pleasant at this time of day, though I’ll have to face the heat shortly when I climb under the mosquito net. I’m working at a wobbly plastic table and swaying about on a cheap Chinese plastic chair, it is dark, it is late and I’m typing this by the light from the computer screen.
The compound isn’t completely dark; there are fluorescent tubes in some of the trees providing a tiny pool of light onto the pathways in between the staff accommodation of mud tukuls and tents. Though this light isn’t quite enough to be any great use, I wonder if the tubes are there just to entertain the insects that gather around them in their thousands every night. You still need a torch to walk along the paths safely, as you need to be absolutely sure you’re not going to accidentally step on a snake, or disturb a scorpion, and you need to be able to negotiate the several hundred frogs that lounge around on the concrete walkways, it really isn’t nice when you step on one of them in flip-flops. However you don’t want to be keeping that torch on once you have reached the toilet, trust me. There is nothing more off putting than being able to see the hordes of cockroaches that come pouring out of a hole in the ground between your feet as you are trying to perform into it. My tip (if you ever find yourself in a similar situation) is to take aim, with whatever you happen to be aiming with, turn your torch off and carry out your activities in the dark, what you can’t see can’t put you off!
The wails and shrieks of an African soap opera echo out of the small dining room, the drama competing with the wailing and shrieking of the pack of rabid dogs that hang around outside the gate every night. Those dogs drive me insane, they terrify and terrorise me when I am walking home in the dark, forcing me to load my pockets with rocks, and then keep me awake at night with their howling and general rowdy carryings on. “Fuck off” I shout at them, “Go and annoy someone else”, as I attempt to walk quickly and confidently down the pitch black track to the compound , trying not to think about the opening scenes to An American Werewolf in London, as they noisily circle around me following me home.
Anyway, I finally got around to investigating the story of these rabid dogs that hang about all night. I asked a friend why nobody tried to kill them all or at least tried to reduce their numbers. I figure all they must do is roam around making lots of noise, terrorising people, eating, mating and multiplying. There are plenty of guns in the village, loads of people who are handy with a machete, and I’m sure poison must be available somewhere. It wouldn’t take a lot of effort or time to eradicate them completely or at least reduce the huge numbers down to a more manageable, less intimidating level. He explained to me the reason why the villagers don’t kill the dogs, and although not pleasant, it makes perfect sense.
I wouldn’t read on if you are half way through your lunch.
Basically, to cut a long story short. When my friends remind me to stay in the centre of the track when walking home in the dark to ensure that I don’t tread on a “Sudanese landmine”, they aren’t talking about unexploded ordnance. Yes, after dark, people in the village go and shit at the side of the road, or the track or wherever is accessible yet far enough away from their home for it not to be considered a health hazard. Most of the people who live in the village have little or no access to toilets, and it seems that a lot of people that do have access have a preference for using the fresh air alternative that they have always used. To date I have managed to avoid these “landmines” or have yet to even see one, the reason being that a) I stay in the middle of the track, and b) these roaming packs of vicious rabid dogs actually provide a free ‘cleaning service’ every night, and without fail, they travel around the village clearing up after the villagers, ‘de-mining’ so to speak.
Nice eh? They are the Princess Diana’s of Malualkon. Well I guess if it works, who am I to try and change it? I think I’ll continue to battle with the cockroaches if it’s all the same, keep loading my pockets with rocks, and keep sticking to the path.