“Cheeky Bastard”

Claire, a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal, has a noctural encounter with a rat. Hijinks, followed by a grusome and protracted death (of the rat, not her), ensue.

When I was Over There, I often slept soundly through the night. Once in a while, I’d see rips in my mosquito netting and wondering what kind of crap material just falls apart like that.

Then, on my last night in the village, I couldn’t sleep. That’s when I saw them coming in, though the doors, the walls, and ceiling. They’d scale my mosquito netting all the way to the top, where they’d crap in the hat I kept on top, and, once in a while, chew through the netting and come into the bed with me. I suddenly realised they had been doing this the entire time. I believe that was the moment I became terrified of rats and mice.

As I was leaving for Canada that week, I didn’t have time to deal with the knowledge that I share my living space with rats a lot more intimately than I ever thought. Prior to going over, I had a fear of insects. Upon arrival, I was greeted by footlong grasshoppers, giant spiders, poisonous centipedes, and cockroaches as big as your head. And that was just in my bedroom. It became apparent that if I was to survive, I’m going to have to get used to these creatures. Otherwise I’d be living with the heebie-jeebies for three months. I never really got that chance with the rats.

Although Senegal borders Gambia, the rats I saw were your garden variety and not, fortunately, one these freakish things.

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