Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Cockroaches: D-day

This is not for the squeamish or faint of heart for this is a tale of war.

In Bogo, I inherited a home passed down through three generations of Peace Corps Volunteers.  One thing this meant it was kept relatively clean and with relatively good upkeep.  Obviously any slob of an American could make that generalization null and void, but we do tend to come from higher standards of cleanliness.  This cleanliness extended to my latrine, which was always clean, used regularly by only one person, and well constructed.  It was disconnected from the main home and, categorized as an improved latrine, had a nifty exhaust allowing airflow above anyone's head.  Thus it never smelled.  My latrine inside my lovely new home did.  It reeked.  First task: remedy.

I'd been told of a few easy fixes.  Apparently you can put a decent amount of sawdust down the hole to help cover up the odor.  I also heard a liter of kerosene could do the job and had the benefit of killing off cockroaches.  I'd only noticed one or two--even in Bogo they would occasionally show their faces--but I'm all for destroying these disgusting, disease carriers.  Kerosene is easy to come buy as they use it for lamps when the power goes out, so I quickly tossed some down the hole.  It worked immediately in that my latrine now smelled of kerosene.  It was an improvement.  I was half tempted to throw a lit match down there and purge whatever lurked bellow, but I had a bad experience with a bug infestation of one of my large water clay pots in Bogo that ended in a fire burning for two hours.  I didn't think it would be a good idea to set my latrine aflame if it might last for days.  Plus I'm not sure what smell would follow that.  I now wish I had taken that chance.

I am not squeamish or faint of heart, but I detest cockroaches.  I can't tell you exactly why this is so, however it does seem a universal human truth.  My hatred does not manifest in fear, though if one gets on me I will surely flail about until they are flung far away.  No, I hunt them down, smash them, and then toss their corpses into the depth of shit lying down that hole (with tissue or something so that they can't touch my bare skin of course).  Were I to have killed a thousand cockroaches it could not have prepared me for what I saw when I opened my latrine that night.

Something happens to the brain when it is confronted by something too horrific to truly contemplate.  It's the difference between reading about one poor soul who lost his life in a tragic accident verses thousands in some freak storm.  The first we are truly sad about, the second is just too big for us to process emotionally.  I say this because I went numb with what I saw: cockroaches swarmed my latrine.  There were hundreds climbing the walls and ceiling.  The floor was, in the most literal and disgusting way, writhing.  All shapes and sizes could be accounted for; I'm not sure I had ever seen a baby cockroach before, but I have now seen thousands.  Emotionally dead and possessed with what could only have been morbid curiosity, I kicked off the latrine cover and too many more came crawling out over each others bodies.  I did not have the sense of mind to take a picture and even so only a video could have done it justice.  Of course, I'm not sure I could suffer you to watch it.

I purchased whatever can of death they sell here and without remorse I entered that hell and sprayed until my eyes watered and I could barely see.  Enraged and frenzied the bugs tried to escape and poured out into the room beyond.  I sprayed more, but the bastards wouldn't die.  I retreated further; blessed be the gods because my back door was right by the exit.  I stood there, broom in hand, sweeping them into the dark of night and pushing them back when they returned with a vengence.  I don't know how long this lasted or how I was ever able to sleep that night after what I had seen.  In the morning, there were corpses.  Many corpses… but... not enough.  I sent their remains back down the hole from wince they came that their friends may see it as a sign.  Still, I know not where the survivors lurk.  I know just that they will return.  Can I be ready?  I fear not.

They will inherit the earth; I have seen it.