I have spent three whole nights in my new flat in Bugolobi. The place is empty, so it does not quite feel like home; however, the place is comfortable, and I will soon carve it into my own little space. I have a huge canvas to work with. The flat has two bedrooms, two toilets, a bathroom, a huge sitting room, a dining room, a kitchen, laundry area and balcony. It was recently renovated so there are screens in the windows to keep out the mosquitoes (Just say “No!” to malaria!) and new tiles on the floors, which keep the place quite cool. When there is power (which seems to be every other day), I even get hot water! My flat is walking distance from the school where I teach (I begin in three weeks.), which is a big plus. All of this for the whopping price of about $250 a month.
If I were a scientist doing research on the marabou stork, I’d have quite a view from my bedroom window. If I were Mary Poppins, I'd stick my finger out the window and let one land on it as I sing while the children I watch tidy up the nursery. It's scenes like the above that make me glad I'm not a British nanny.
(Marabou, pronounced MAR uh boo, is one of the largest birds in the stork family. The marabou lives throughout Africa. Two closely related species, the greater adjutant and the lesser adjutant, are found in India and Southeast Asia.
The marabou has long legs and stands up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall. The wings and upper body are slate-gray or black, and the underparts are white. The bird has beautiful, soft, white tail feathers, which are also called marabou. Manufacturers once used these feathers to make scarves and to trim hats and gowns. The head and neck of the marabou are almost featherless. A long pouch of reddish skin hangs down from the neck. A marabou can inflate this pouch with air, which may help it attract other marabous as mates.
Marabous feed largely on the remains of dead animals. They also eat live prey, including frogs, fish, reptiles, and locusts. Marabous nest in colonies. They build platformlike nests high in trees or on rocks and lay two or three white eggs.
Scientific classification. The marabou belongs to the stork family, Ciconiidae. Its scientific name is Leptoptilos crumeniferus.)
This has the be the most disgusting creature on the face of the planet. They eat rubbish, so if there are dumpsters (skips) around, you’ll find a flock of birds. I saw one of these beasts chasing a poor dog yesterday. A couple of years ago, I even saw one chase a woman down the street. As a bystander, I found it quite hilarious, but if I were the one being chased, I would’ve been terrified. They are HUGE (About 5 feet!), and they have a horrendous stench. People used to tell me that the meat of the bird was poisonous. While I find that hard to believe, I still wonder how drunk someone must’ve been to sample a taste of the marabou’s meat to make this discovery. My friend, Charles, and I saw a dead stork beneath a tree yesterday and noticed there were no flies around. Charles commented, “Even the flies refuse to eat these birds.”
I have an idea, remake Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds, but replace all the birds with marabou storks.
I made the journey to Hoima, Bulera Primary Teachers’ College and Bulindi, earlier this week. This is the area I called home for three years, and I left what feels like family there. For the most part, I found everyone well. Murngi has grown. He was a hyperactive three-year-old when I first arrived in Bulindi. He’s now seven years old, lost a lot of his baby fat and mellowed out just a touch, but he’s as cute as ever. Sadly, the principal of Bulera College, Mr. Isaac Munnu, passed away in June. He’d been sick for about two years. He was someone I held a lot of respect for, he was a mentor and a friend to me. In some ways he served as a father figure to me while I was in Uganda. His son died shortly after my father did, so he kind of adopted me. He was a progressive educator and made things happene for the college. I could always count on his support and wisdom. I hate that I did not get to see him again, and he is sorely missed.
The seasons are really messed up in Uganda this year. There was no rain in the rainy season, and now is supposed to be the dry season, and it rains almost daily. A side effect of the late rain is a late season for enswa (white ants or termites). Walking home from the college on Tuesday evening, Jaime (the Peace Corps Volunteer at Bwikya Coordinating Center who is leaving this month) and I walked by a cloud of these insects leaving their nest.
Yes, I’ve eaten them: raw, fried, in ground nut stew, and in a sauce with tomatoes and mushrooms. I’m not a huge fan of them, but they are not that bad.
Nicole, I think Harriet got tired of Samoa and stowed away in my baggage. I feel a presence in my flat.