Tuesday, January 29, 2008

It's a wide open road (full of bugs)

Remember that scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom where Kate Capshaw's ditsy nightclub singer is rushing around their jungle campsite being growled at by lizards and accidentally picking up bats? No? She comes rushing back to Indy and says, "This whole place is completely surrounded by living things!"

I'm starting to get that same feeling myself.

Yes, the bit behind the fence wire
reads "prosecuted or EATEN".

There aren't really any of these around. It's a sign on the fence that separates Palm Haven from the property next door. The owner was going to get some lions, but he must have changed his mind. A sign like this would make an excellent alternative to a monitored alarm, though, don't you think?

Most of what's surrounding us doesn't have teeth quite that big. Frogs, spiders, moths and a stunning range of supersized bugs - you name it, we've got it. There are a few types of frog here, though none are more than a handful. There are flat ones, little stripy green ones and a brown, toady one. The dogs and Gilgy the cat are all obsessed. Gilgy likes to chase them, but he knows better than to eat them. The dogs never learn and end up frothing at the mouth after one solid lick. It doesn't make them sick, as such, but a floor covered in cappucino de pooch isn't overly pleasant.

Gilgy seems to have been quite restrained with his hunting while we've been here. Probably because of the amount of steak and bacon he cadges from us at the table. Apparently last year he was forever bringing back rabbits from the veldt and taking them apart on the lawn. He'd just leave the ears and a few clumps of bunny fluff. Which does beg the question, what's wrong with rabbit ears? Bitter? Too chewy? Just not worth the effort?

The bugs are interesting, though. There are big black horned beetles; huge grasshoppers in various shades of acid; millipedes as long as a pen and thick as a finger; black-and-white bumblebees the size of Clinkers that wobble about, merrily oblivious to the fact that they shouldn't be able to fly.

Here's one I prpeared earlier. It's quite small, I'm told.

Everything seems to creak or buzz or hum, especially in flight. There are a few types that make a noise that could pass for a small motorbike. The other night, I found something in the bathroom that could have been cockroach or cricket, but I couldn't work out which and couldn't be bothered opening the window to turf it. It woke me up an hour later with its singing, so I suppose it was either the rare Pavarotti roach or a particularly massive cricket. I think I'm one up on one of Bloke's workmates, though. One night last week, every time he opened the door to throw something out (frog, spider, moth the size of your hand), something else would fly/jump/scuttle in.

And naturally, everything has made it its mission to bite you. The mozzies must be pretty bloody sturdy if one managed to bite me through denim. Twice. On the bum. Typical. I do like the name of the bug spray in our room, though. It's called Doom. And the Saffie Aerogard equivalent? Peaceful Sleep. I can't decide whether it sounds more like the bottle of stuff a vet keeps for putting down kittens or a less popular Soylent Green substitute, but it's the only one that really keeps the mozzies away. Hey, what's a little toluene between friends?

I don't think Peaceful Sleep works on snakes, though. I have yet to see one on this trip, but they're certainly around. Richard shot two cobras yesterday. One was only small - only about three feet long - but the other one was a good seven or eight feet. Cobras aren't the only type of snake around, of course. Don't forget the boa constrictors and black mambas. Everyone has a black mamba story to tell. They're particularly aggressive snakes and just a wee bit poisonous. My favourite mamba tale is the one where someone saw one stretched all the way across the road (did I mention they're quite big, too?) and ran over it. Quick as you like, it flicked up and struck at the closed passenger window. Handy hint for beginners: drive with your windows up.

Or just walk and don't worry about it. I went for a walk up the driveway yesterday, hoping to see the family of warthogs that has been lolling about in a wallow by the road. It was a nice stroll - just me, the thorn trees and a long red road.

Oh, and of course, the bugs. Don't forget the bugs. No warthogs to be found, unfortunately. They must have been pigging about elsewhere. I did see a dead chameleon, though. It had faded to a pallid green against the dust. I wonder whether that was its natural colour or whether it was the just last colour it had been before it dropped dead?

In other news, I have a new feather in my hat. Real, not metaphorical. It's a wing feather from a lilac-breasted roller, a very pretty bird with feathers in purple, blue and turquoise. It was actually my second attempt at a hat feather. I'd already seen one in the grass, striped brown and cream, and tucked it into the band. I saw Richard afterwards, spraying weeds, and stopped to chat. "By the way, what sort of feather is this?" I asked. "Oh, that? Um, chicken."

I think that makes me a loser.



At 10:51 am, January 30, 2008, Blogger Milly Moo said...

LOL - great ending to your piece, Red! You know, it kind of reminds me of Darwin - insects everywhere, dodgy and deadly creatures and menacing signs from rough nut neighbours... No?

At 1:44 pm, January 30, 2008, Blogger ali g said...

My Tigger chases down rabbits and then devours them outside our bedroom window. He also leaves the ears and when I asked him about it and he said 'start at the arse and work my way up ..by the time I get to the ears I'm pretty well full so I just leave 'em for them dogs' so Gilgy may be doing the same!
Those black long ringy looking grubs were everywhere when we were in Seth Efrica last Nov. When first arrived drove around them all the time until all the swerving stared making the others car sick so by the end of the trip just ran over the bastards.
Was told their name but can't now remember...was something like 'shakazulus' I think..
Parks & Wildlife warned us about watching out for Puff adders while over there but never saw any snakes until got home when on the way back from the tip in the winery ute a King Brown slithered out from under the passenger seat looking very pissed off. had shorts and sandels on [no socks Tony]. Anyway legs went up on seat, handbrake on and out the driver door before ute came to a stop. Eventually chased it out with the ute broom and it slithered off into Johnny Marskell's place...made the mistake of telling Johnny about it didn't I.
He said..WHAT!..you chased the bastard into MY place..thanks a lot!!!!..

Cappucino de pooch...That's so good..must remember that one..[that's almost bum at Torana window class]
Have fun and watch out for the wart hogs.

At 2:26 pm, January 31, 2008, Blogger Lonie Polony said...

*Shudders and rocks compulsively* The horror! The horror! I'm gonna have bug-infested nightmares tonight. Me and the rest of the ecosystem are like oil and water, unfortunately.

At 3:00 pm, February 03, 2008, Blogger phishez_rule said...


At 12:31 am, February 05, 2008, Anonymous SMK said...

Bug paella. That's what you need to cook....gawd, I've just blown a doggo spider off my keyboard - except I think it really is dead not just pretending.
Love the descriptions of the countryside, particularly the water pearls hanging off the fencelines. Wish there was something equally interesting to report from here. I watched "So you think you can dance" on the telly tonight and have to say that poor old Adelaide presented a poor showing in contestants with any vim in their steps. Perhaps I just need to go to bed. Hrumpf. Love to Bloke and you too. SMK

At 2:07 pm, February 06, 2008, Anonymous Teddy said...

Come on Red---8 days later and no post.
What has happened here.
You didnt get your arse chew by a large feline ?

At 5:21 pm, February 06, 2008, Blogger Rosanna said...

Oh! South Africa sounds glorious. Not sure about the sign though...

At 12:54 pm, February 07, 2008, Blogger Steph said...

Oh Gawd, I dinnae know how you deal with all the creepy crawlies! I'd sooner front a Lion I think.

At 10:11 pm, February 07, 2008, Blogger Ariel said...

Beautifully written and illuminating as ever, Red ... I WANT TO TRAVEL!!!

Please beware of black mambas.

And I hope you're doing some paid travel writing while you're there.

At 3:19 pm, February 16, 2008, Blogger tonypark said...

We had a mamba rear up and strike at the land rover window once. Not funny.

Also, the people next door to us in Kruger found a puff adder in their caravan annex and deposited on the fencline - next to us.

The old Afrikaner in the tent next to us said to me; "Hey, what would you do with this bladdy snake in Australia, man?"

"Why, kill it, of course," I said.

Not very PC in a national park and while I couldn't bring myself to do the deed (I was too scared to get close to it), I did pass my shovel to the old man...

Does that make me an accessory? (I was only following orders).

At 7:44 pm, February 17, 2008, Blogger redcap said...

milly, thanks matey :) I think you're right, you know. Africa and Darwin have much in common!

ali, I asked about the name too, but didn't write it down. It did start with a "sh", but I can't remember what it was. Nice job on the king brown under the ute seat! Crikey!

lonie, I think Africa probably isn't for you, then ;)

phish, sorrrry. I'm home now, though, jetlagged all to buggery and with an icky cold, so don't be too jealous.

smk, wait til you see the picture of the spider I have for another post. ~shudders~ And Adelaide always ends up rubbish in these reality teev things, for some reason. On Aus Idol last year, we were just mediocre - not even bad enough for the funny reels.

ted, nup, not dead yet. ust didn't have any net access in the desert.

rosanna, it is glorious!

steph, do you know, I came to the same conclusion when I saw the spiders in Kruger.

ariel, thanks! Didn't see a snake the whole time I was there. I'll probably write something for the day job, but that's about it.

tony, ooh, nasty! And if they were going to pick it up, why didn't they ditch the thing over the fence, for heaven's sake? scoop it up with a spade and va-va-voom ;)

At 8:50 pm, January 21, 2009, Blogger Helen said...

lilac-breasted rollers are pretty, but you see them ALL the time here, so they get boring. They are very photogenic though, so its always good when you're having a bad-photo day! Paradise flycatchers are my favourite, particularly when they fight with the drongos...

This is random so I'm going to stop. Oh, and DOOM works really well, but peaeful sleep doesn't. Although it doesn't claim to protect against ticks, which the alternatives do (and I catch tick-bite fever regularly).


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