Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Rainy Season has Arrived

It’s the beginning of the rainy season. Torrents of rain have been falling all day. The road has turned into a lake with a class 5 rapid section down the hill. The entrance to my school is now a small in-land sea. A few bricks have been placed as stepping stones to cross this Sea of Aiti, but I am not nimble enough to make the leaps from brick to brick, forcing me to walk around the building in order to access my classroom. Once in the classroom, I wonder why I have bothered since no one can hear my English lesson over the drumming of rain on the corrugate metal roof. Going home the rain has stopped allowing weak sun to filter through the clouds. Even so, I am muddy, tired, and discouraged from the difficulty of travel and work during the rainy season. I am looking forward to a comfortable night at home, safe and cozy. As I walk I notice a buzzing sound in the air, in fact the air looks to be alive. Millions of baby termites are flying around. These are not the termites of home, no, these are flying termites. They fill the air with their incessant buzzing flying around in endless circles. I make it safely home and darkness falls. As usual, we turn on the kitchen light. Within minutes, baby termites are flying around our kitchen. How do they get in? They are all flying straight to the light and committing mass suicide. The fall into our dinner or crawl around the floor, now wingless, pathetic creatures trying to live a few more minutes. Hundreds are in the room. Two hours later our kitchen floor resembles a cemetery- a cemetery of unburied baby termite corpses.  

The next day it rains once more. The sky unloads a waterfall for hours and hours. Mud is everywhere. Once again the rain ceases in the evening. Once again we turn on our kitchen light. I look over to the window and see a wall of termites on the outside of the screen. But wait, they are not on the outside of the screen, they are on the inside and the windows are open. They are getting in! Close the window! But it is too late. And this time it is not baby termites sneaking through the hole in the screen. This time our house is filled with gigantic, full grown, flying termites. They are the size of dragonflies and the zoom around our room in droves. Some fall to the floor and loose one, two, three, or four wings. Then they walk around looking much more like normal termites. Termite wings and corpses are everywhere. One is stuck on our salad oil bottle. His wings have been glued to the oil and he kicks, valiantly trying to free himself from certain death. We bring Etienne in and tell him to eat. He runs around excitedly catching termites and eating as many as he can. Two African boys come asking if the can have our termites. They know we have electricity and the harvest will be plentiful around the lights. We say yes, take them. In 5 minutes they scoop up hundreds of termites to take home for dinner. All of a sudden, there is darkness. After 2 days of rain the solar panel has given out and we are left with hundreds of termites in the dark. We light a few candles and place them away from the dinner table. We watch all night as termites die around the room, some being consumed by fire when they fly into the candles, some being consumed by Etienne, some just giving up the fight to live.  

 The next day our floor, and in fact, all the ground outside is covered with termite wings. As we walk around Aru going about our business, the wings are everywhere. Thousands, millions of termite wings litter the ground. But there is not one termite body. The rainy season has arrived.