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Home is where the insects roam

As I sit here in pitch blackness pondering my surroundings, I make a small mental note: next time, idiot, remember where you left the torch! I had been merrily minding my own business one evening when after a couple of small spikes, the power died. After (eventually) finding the torch with nothing worse than a spilt cup of coffee, a stubbed toe and a loud squige-ing noise as I stepped on something which had previously been alive but now require a clean up operation, I decided to give in and go to the pub.

Chunks of Jamestown were blacked out, but it was very much at random. Some buildings seemed fine whilst others (and some street lights etc) were in complete darkness. Power outages are not, thankfully, a regular occurrence, but they do seem to be afflicted by events that seem trivial: It was reported that the outage had been caused by a bird flying into something it shouldn't have, and some insulation which had been attacked by an unknown animal over the course of few weeks. And with that, the Island descended to darkness.

With everything relying on small systems, slight maintenance can cause larger problems: Radio St. Helena, for example, the government owned of our two radio stations, went off air for 36hours due to 'essential maintenance', though at least we were warned in advance.

I am living in a small rented apartment, close to the centre of town, and perfect for my needs. It is traditionally arranged (for St. Helena) meaning that none of the rooms connect, so I have to go outside to go to the kitchen or bathroom. I have a patio area, and a nice bit of garden which seems a magnet for wildlife.

As well as the inevitable mosquitoes - luckily in fairly small numbers so far at least - I am plagued by surprisingly vicious hordes of ants that I have to evict every couple of days and who seem to use my outside light as their own private death machine, feasting on the moths and other creatures that are attracted to it at night. There are a number of reasonably size cockroach type things that appear in evenings, and if I suddenly turn on my outside light, I can often see (and hear) some scuttling away: One who somehow ended up on his back on my porch was at least 20cm in length, whilst i spent 2 hours one night trying to find and evict a smaller (but still decent sized) one from my bedroom after he scuttled in when I went to the toilet. Fairly large and dopey bluebottles congregate around my kitchen in early evenings, whilst less than an hour ago I went into the bathroom and discovered a large-ish lizard on the wall. I'm not sure which of us was more surprised to see the other, but neither of us was expecting the other, that much is certain. Smaller lizards are also common in the evenings, and I have also been visited by a couple of long millipede type creatures of a type that are fascinating though previously unknown to me.

There are a number of cats around, including one inquisitive kitten that enjoys playing in my garden at night and climbing up to the balcony of the upstairs apartment. I like cats, but must admit to being slightly freaked by this particular one to begin with: late in most evenings i would hear fairly substantial rustlings outside in the garden, but could never see what it was - even if I tried to surprise it by suddenly illuminating the place. I had guessed it was a small mammal, and most likely a cat, but it seemed to be making allot of rustlings and sounded significantly bigger than it was. Whilst I know there are no bears on the island, my wonderful imagination had more or less concluded that the amount of noise made must have been a bear or more likely,a pair of them - or perhaps an angry elephant, who knows? - before I (happily) finally discovered one night that it was a kitten, when he decided to be sociable and pawed on my door a bit meowing to say hello.

During the day I watch the birds come and go, including 3 who I have come to recognise (one is easy, as he has no left foot, whilst one of the other 2 is a definite bully) and are have little enough fear of humans to come within half a metre or so of me, even when I am not being perfectly still. Indeed, they will happily wander into my bedroom or kitchen if i leave the door wide open (as I often do) and are not paying allot of attention. And at dusk there is an hour or so that I have always really liked, of utter mayhem, where you hear a vast cacophony of bird noises right across town as they all retreat back to their trees and nests for the night.

Being at home here is much more interesting here than in Sweden where apart from the damned mozzies, pretty much the only wildlife that would visit were drunk friends, acquaintances and friends of acquaintances, normally between the hours of 1.30 and 4am on Saturdays and Sundays.

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Posted by Gelli 07:46 Archived in St Helena Tagged living_abroad

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