A “Pinching” Experience

It was the rainy season and the low-lying areas beside the road to Mwanza were full of water. And, at that time of year, the knob-nosed geese and ducks enjoyed those ponds, especially if the pond was a flooded rice paddy.

During those days, if I had to go the 70+ miles to town from our out-station at Salawe to get supplies, I took my double-barreled 12 bore shotgun with me. Maybe on the way home I would be able to “harvest” a goose or two, or a couple of ducks, to take home to supplement our dinners. Those “knobbies” were tough eating, but provided a change to our diet.

On this day (or, rather, evening) the geese and ducks were well dotted throughout the wide expanses of water. I stopped to assess the possibilities and, out in the water, I saw a hummock of earth and grass which would provide me with a good shooting point. As I made my way to the hummock, of course, most of the geese and ducks took off and started flying around. I didn’t mind – my 12 bore had a reputation of bringing down marauding hawks on the wing. The same could happen this time.

I made my way out. The hummock was solid and I crouched to better provide steady shots. I raised the shotgun to my shoulder, ready to shoot a circulating goose, and something bit (or stung) me on my leg. Then another, and another, and another! I looked down at my legs and they were covered with siafu – army ants. They, to escape the water, had decided to use that same hummock and swarmed when I invaded it.

Foregoing any shooting, I took off to higher ground where there was no water. I started picking off the biting ants and found that now they had made it all the way up the inside of my trousers, up to my belt line. There, in plain sight of everyone who happened to be walking on the road, I had to remove my trousers, down to my underwear, and pick off all the biting ants. And it seemed like there were thousands. Then, before I put my trousers back on, I had to turn them inside out and pick out all the ants that I could see and were still in there – I guess they were waiting for my leg to go back inside! And it seemed all the “walkers” on the road had congregated to watch what this crazy “mzungu” (foreigner {white}) was doing. I bet m antics provided a conversation piece around their village campfires that night!

Needless to say, there was no goose or duck for supper. And while driving the last 30+ miles home, I had to stop every once in a while to pick out an ant which I had missed and had decided to bite me. What fun! – – NOT!!