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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Love thy neighbor

Africa is widely known for its wildlife – visions of safari trips through grasslands in a Land Rover and extremely large camera come to mind.  Lions, elephants, giraffes, etc.  All of those things are real and reasonably close to us and we’ve had the pleasure of experiencing them first hand already in our short time here.  But most of the time we are at RVA, on a campus which itself boasts quite the wildlife variety within its own fences.  These are the neighbors we see on a regular basis and we’d like to introduce you to a few of them :)

DSCN4642IMG_3731If you read our blog regularly, you’ve already met our friends, the pinching ants!

DSCN4677DSCN5406And there’s a good chance you’ve heard about our friends, the tortoises.  Not really “wild” life – just some pets of a family on campus.  They recently laid a bunch of eggs; maybe a pet tortoise is in our future!

DSCN4983IMG_3833Baboons: the dumpster-divers of the community.

DSCN5472IMG_3986No, these aren’t climbing skunks!  Colobus monkeys are actually endangered, but you wouldn’t know it living here.  They are always playing in the trees on the edge of campus somewhere.  Their call is very distinct – imagine what a cow might sound like if it was coughing up a hairball… it’s something like that.

DSCN6400Found this little guy crawling across the kitchen floor the other day.  I think it’s a millipede.

DSCN6039DSCN6330DSCN6334DSCN6038Chameleons have become a family (aside from Courtney) favorite.  They don’t show up all the time, but they provide much entertainment whenever we stumble upon one!

DSCN5783DSCN5787Is “stick-bug” the scientific name for this one?  Not sure, but he was pretty cool to watch.  He hung out on our front door for awhile one day.

DSCN5264If we’ve seen one, we’ve seen a thousand.  These little skink lizards are about 4 or 5 inches long and hang out in our flower beds, often basking in the sun on our sidewalk whenever they’re sure they won’t get crushed by a toddler’s crocs.

DSCN4730I wish I had more pictures of the birds we see around here.  They say Kenya boasts some of the best birding in the world.  This big guy was perched in a tree in our neighbors yard. 

DSCN5268Whenever it rains consistently, these not-so-little slugs come out of who-knows-where and crawl around in the drainage ditches. 

DSCN6482Our most recent run-in with neighborly “hospitality” has been with these fellas.  Termites have been flying everywhere over the last few days.  The picture above doesn’t do justice to how desperately they were trying to flap their wings into our house towards the light.  About 100 others found a way in – right underneath our front door.  This was right as we were putting the kids to bed on Monday night. 

Within two minutes our kitchen went from housing two annoying flying termites to over 100!  The massacre that followed could only be rated R for violence (or possibly win a prize on AFV for it’s utter hilarity).  Our weapons of choice: Courtney wielded my left flip-flop while I chose to clap and slap with my hands.  The resulting carnage was swept into the garbage can and we continue to find wings (every one of them has four) lying around our house a day later.

DSCN6479

Our countertop midway through the battle (yes, we took the time to snap a picture in the midst of the invasion – these events must be recorded properly).  Would you believe that people eat these things?  Driving through Kijabe yesterday I saw kids collecting them in containers as they flew out of the underground birthing holes.  From what I’ve heard, most people tear the wings off and fry them up for a crispy treat that’s high in protein.  We’re not there yet, but it doesn’t take long for boys living in Africa to dare each other into consuming a few – even raw sometimes!

Many other neighbors from the animal kingdom are around.  Moths of unusal size (MOUS’s for you Princess Bride fans) and spiders of all shapes and sizes are the more regular visitors.  Courtney has almost come to the point where she’ll kill them herself (almost).

Just another snapshot into life at RVA.

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