Batshit crazy

I hear noises at night.

Most of them have perfectly logical explanations: the unsettling flapping is the wind slipping inside the space created by the plastic covering the inside of my roof, the ominous rumbling is an 18-wheeler passing by on the tarmac, the mournful ululating cry is a boy calling to a friend across the village, the sharp thud on the ground near my porch is a mango falling from the nearby tree. And the sound of boisterous teenagers laughing on my front porch is probably caused by boisterous teenagers laughing on my front porch.

However, some of the noises aren’t as easily explained, like the dull scratching sound and high-pitched squeaks coming from the plastic directly over my head as I lay in bed every night. I know I’ve got an uninvited tenant taking up residence in my attic. I just don’t know who or what it is.

Earlier this week I was hammering some more nails into my roof to reduce flappage (and rentable attic space) and what appeared to be dried mud slid down the plastic. I briefly wondered why there would be mud underneath my thatched roof, but I have a strict don’t ask, don’t tell policy when it comes to odd things in Zambia. (If I really don’t want to know the answer, why ask the question?) I thought nothing more of it and continued happily hammering away.


Then the other evening I was washing dishes in the kitchen when a scrabbling sound above me prompted me to look up. Something was moving between the plastic and the thatched grass in the same spot where I had seen the mud earlier. I gave it an exploratory poke with my solar lamp, the only blunt weapon-like object I had close at hand. It squeaked. Ew, a mouse, I thought. Wonderful. I whacked it through the plastic and a small furry form slid limply down onto the wall, dead.

Then I took a closer look at the critter and saw that it had wings. Realization dawned. Jim Carrey’s voice echoed in my head: “Guano!”

That’s where the mud came from. That’s what’s been living in my roof. And that explains the abrasion on your palm! [Does best Ace Ventura victory dance in his hut. Is grateful that he lives alone so nobody else witnesses this.]

Yeah. I’ve gone batshit crazy.


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