The Journey begins… March 5, 2014
Count down, 5ive, 4our, 3ee, 2oo, 1ne… and we have departure. Yes, the McCabe’s have initiated a successful departure from Chad. But what you really want to hear is about the hours leading up to our departure. We were very successful in maintaining the aurora of chaos around us, right up to the minute of departure. It started Sunday morning, the 2nd of March, a nice and slow morning. Judy walked into the kitchen and saw the floor drain cover, a three inch cover, was not in its place covering the drain hole. It was sitting upside down next to the drain. Strange! But this is Africa. The day gets busy fast as we are in full pack mode, preparing to head back to the states and all thoughts of the drain fade away.
We are preparing to move out of our apartment on the SIL center. We have lived here one for the past two years. Wow, has it gone fast! I recently read that the average American moves every 3 ½ years. It’s never fun, but we get to sort, sell and give away what we didn’t use or don’t need anymore. Judy likes this part of downsizing! As typical for us we are packing for a couple of possible scenarios; packing our suitcases with things for our 8 months in the states, things to store for when we return and lastly designating what to do with the things in storage in case we don’t return.
Our stress levels rise and fall throughout the day as we attempt to make too many decisions. We end up staying up until midnight so we can finish packing. We crawl into bed and fall asleep quickly. Then the noises start. At first I think it’s the security people outside walking past our window, but in a tired, sleepy stupor, it’s not making sense. A metallic scraping sound on the bedrail right near our heads, a wood scraping sound near the window side of the room, a paper rustling sound by the door and suddenly it dawns on me, a rat came to visit via the floor drain and he is touring our bedroom right now. Judy seems to be sleeping through it all. I decide to do nothing but listen to his explorations. It’s a good thing I’ve spent a lot of nights camping outside and listening to all the critters just a fabric distance away from me. I eventually fall back to sleep only to find morning arrives way too early.
In the morning we see the evidence of our night visitor. He left an awful lot of little gifts for us throughout the house. I’m starting to think, maybe it was more than one. The opening scenes of the animated film, Ratatouille, come to mind. Possibly thousands of rats living is a small community directly underneath our floor and last night one, or more, found their way into our home. We’ve been invaded.
Now it’s Monday, we leave on Wednesday. In theory, last Friday was our last day of work. The 16 hour work day we put in on Saturday was just a fluke, I’m sure. This morning we both feel the weight of our unfinished jobs. No regular replacements for either one of our jobs. Some individuals will cover parts of our jobs, but each of them already have full time jobs. We realize, we will be going to work like normal, right up until we leave for the airport.
Monday too, ends up being a regular work day for both of us. In the late afternoon, I get four rat traps from the work shop and prep them for their evil duty. Actually, theirs is a good duty, trying to kill off the evil and destructive trespassers. This is domestic war with rebel rat terrorists trying to take over the kingdom. Oh the fun of trying to justify our actions. I attach a new rat proof floor drain cover, the line is drawn, no rats coming in, none will be leaving alive. One of our neighbors was telling me how she brings the rat sticky traps back from the states each time they return. This allows her the opportunity to discuss with the evil terrorist rats the error of their ways before their execution. Sort of like the classic trial with the outcome known before it begins.
Just before bedtime I set the traps. Using an elaborate system of box’s, filled water bottles, pots, bricks and wood blocks, to guide the rat(s) into the calculated surprise attack of wave after wave of set traps. One with peanut butter, one with raw meat, one with cucumber and one with a peanut. Judy laughs at my engineering brilliance. I explain that one must think like a rat to catch a rat. She infers something about how easy that will be for me, but I have no idea what she is talking about.
We go to bed with high hopes of morning carnage. Sometime in the night I hear a trap snap, I smile and drift back to a contended sleep, only to be awoken by the next snap and the next. Slowly my hope is diminishing until morning breaks the skies. I see we did catch one rat and missed with the other three traps. But wait, there’s more. I see a rat tail sticking out from under the refrigerator. I nudge it with my foot and it slowly recoils, hum mm??? I get down, face on the floor and see what appears to be a sleeping rat, just waking up. He turns, looks at me and takes off running deeper under the fridge. I hear another sound in the shelving next to the fridge and see a rat scaling the shelving and entering the open fuse box on the wall. His buddy seems trapped under the fridge. I get the broom and go hunting. I pull the fridge away from the wall, the rat is running back to the cover of the fridge, the broom is springing into action, the rat is stunned, I grab its tail and see defeat on his face. He knows his time is up. Our compost bucket is at hand and the rat is deposited. Two down, one to go. The battle zone will be calm till night fall, so it’s back to the daily toil and packing.
Last night in Chad is another very late night. Bags are finally re-packed and moved into the living room. Just before bed the traps are set once again. The kitchen doorway is barricaded, in hopes of lessening the travels of the remaining rat(s). Once again the traps snap throughout the night, each sounding like a gunshot or far away explosion. Who knows what the morning light will bring. With high hopes we remove the barricades and enter the battle zone only to find the traps snapped and no dead rat. The stress is too high and Judy begins to cry. We fought hard, we thought victory would be ours, but alas, it appears the rats may have won this round. Our house help arrives and the sad news is shared. As Judy is explaining the situation the rat makes a public appearance scaling the shelving, thinking he would enter the fuse box hole. The shelving was moved away from the wall, the rat runs circles around the top of the shelving, not sure what to do he attempts to climb down, halfway he sees us and makes a super-rat leap for the refrigerator door, bounces and slides off, gliding for the floor drain he realizes there is no escape there. In a last ditch effort he lunges for the small gap between the cupboards and the floor. Once again he is safe.
This battle must be left for another to complete. We take our bags and head off to the transport car waiting to take us to the airport. Just like a bad dream, the rat fiasco is forgotten, until I start to write this blog report.
End of part one, the Journey continues…