With half the team away from the hospital on the mobile clinics, you’d think that we’d be in for some quietish time in the evenings – but this was not to be! Anabel our visiting WatSan [water and sanitation] specialist wound up with the dubious responsibility of dealing with a truly enormous hive of bees that had taken up residence in a tree in our fenced off TB treatment area. Enthusiastic and impractical suggestions on how to deal with it came thick and fast from the rest of the team – from smoking them out, to spraying them out, to constructing some sort of flamethrower. Can’t say I envied the poor girl that task!
Eventually she determinedly set off with some of the local hospital staff (who were keen to preserve the nest and the honey it contained) to deal with them one evening just after sunset – while the rest of us sat safely behind the meshed off veranda shouting dubious pieces of advice after her. Ten minutes later she was back shaking with suppressed laughter and proceeded to describe how one of our staff had set up a mosquito net on the floor under the tree, while another scaled up and cut the nest down onto it. The second it came crashing down into the net, the first guy bundled it up and set off pell mell for the nearest gate dragging the net and nest behind him in an attempt to avoid the retribution of the sleepy, but no doubt seriously pissed-off, bees that had detonated out of it upon landing. His attempts at running out of the compound might have been a tad more successful had he in fact checked for the location of the nearest gate first – as it was he sprinted needlessly round nearly the entire perimeter of the compound, nest in tow, before eventually locating a door and escaping through it into the night, still running. We were in hysterics. I just hope he’s enjoying his honey now where ever he is.
The next night it was the turn of the unfortunate hawks to get our attention. I say hawks – we don’t really know what they are, some sort of raptor, but bigger than any British hawk – more the size and colouring of a buzzard. Anyway, they are endemic here and yet another tree next to the expat compound had become the chosen site for one particular pair to build their nest in. All well and good, until they decided that that we had sinister designs on their offspring and took to aggressively swooping down on hapless members off staff walking to and from their tukels and clawing at their hair. I was the luckless recipient of one such attack, and whilst somewhat startling, it didn’t really hurt, so we were mostly going to ignore them until one of them actually flew down and clawed at Stefan’s eye. This was rather more than he was prepared to put up with, so, after a week of eye ointment and dire mutterings in their direction we came to another evening, and another nighttime raid on the unsuspecting wildlife’s aerial residence. I’m sorry to report that this particular pair won’t be raising any chicks this year, but it is something of a relief to be able to walk about the place without having to anxiously scan the sky every few seconds!