In the End, the Rat Won
The rat and I had been at war for a month. At first I was determined not to let him get to me. After all, I’d dealt with rats before while living in Kenya. It just is part of the bush experience. I tried to tell myself it was not that big of a deal.
But he really started bugging me. He’d investigate throughout our room at night. Once he woke me with his chewing on a box right next to Brent’s head. No matter how I would try to cover my pillow during the day, I’d find rat poop on it when it came time for bed. He got into everything. But the final straw was my beef jerky. Mind you, we get starved for protein. And you long for something really flavorful. This specially-ordered Tillimook honey-glazed beef jerky fit the bill. It was my favorite thing. I was determined to protect it. I suspended it, tightly wrapped in Ziplocs and a strong sack. The rat still got it; ate through the ends of every piece. Cursing him, I cut off the chewed ends (yes, believe it or not, we were still going to eat it. The bush leads to desperate measures). I tried a new way to wrap and hide it. He still found it and destroyed it once and for all.
I was sick about it, but there was some satisfaction in knowing the jerky finally led to the rat’s demise. We had tried trapping him for weeks. He’d managed to very carefully get away with every piece of bait we’d left, from cheese to peanut butter. Our interns had joked that he must be a Kenya Keys scholar because he was the smartest rat ever. But once we found how much he loved the jerky, Brent used it as well-secured bait. It worked. I heard the loud snap. Soon after one of his junior partners was also caught. We rejoiced and threw their bodies out our back door, only to find a mere 15 minutes later that they had already been consumed by something. (There are some things you have to NOT think about–like the snakes that make the rats seem like nothing).
I thought I was done with him; that I had, at last, triumphed over my nemesis. But alas, that was not the case. It came time for us to leave; civilization was calling my name and I couldn’t get there fast enough. I pulled out the soft, cozy sweater that I always wore on the plane; my security blanket of sorts. It had been buried at the bottom of my bag since I’d hit the African heat. Suddenly I could sense the rat smirking with glee. He had chewed a huge hole in my sweater; nibbled through enough parts of it that no amount of ingenuity could make it salvageable.
So much for my victory. There’s a common saying: Africa Wins Again. So does the rat.