Thursday, October 20, 2011

Rats and traveling

*Several have asked for a bit of clarifying about the rats that were referred to on FB.  Here is the gist of the story....
Uganda has rats. It is just part of life in Soroti and we get used to them. Bec and I own a cat who does a lot to keep us from experiencing them but occasionally, like when they are bigger than her or when she makes a gift of their carcass, then we are reminded of their presence. The day before I left was one of those days. Like most cats, ours loves to play in suitcases and I have had several out while packing. Friday morning I noticed her playing in one but didn't think more of it. I should have. This was only a few hours after I'd seen her hunting and killing a small rat outside the house. Come to find out she didn't eat it but carried it in, played with it then left it in my suitcase. Saturday night I smelled something dead and looked and looked for why my bedroom would be smelling so bad. Finally I remembered seeing her playing in the suitcase and the pieces came together. I really only had to search the bag for a second or two to find it. It stunk! Tossed the rat into the garden, washed out the bag and the clothes but it still stunk. So I turned the fan on to air out the room. Then called it a night as I had to drive more than 7 hours the following day.
There is the little guy. Thank you so much cat for packing that for me. 
I was awake several times in the night, each time thinking how much the room still stunk. I even got up once and adjusted the fan. Woke up in the morning actually nauseated from the smell but it was 5:00 am and I had a ton to do and was too sleepy to really process. As the morning got underway I didn't notice it as much. Then I was taking my sheets off my bed before leaving for 3 months and found a much bigger dead rat in the bed. Wrapped up in the sheets and the mosquito net. Sick!! I yelled the cat's name in absolute disgust. She came running, jumped up on the bed, dragged the rat out then looked at me like "Oh, yeah. Forgot to tell you I left you a little going away present. Here is a dead rat."
Not a great picture but you get the idea. 
So then when a UK border control working dog sniffed out my bag in Heathrow airport in London I had to decide if I was going to explain this or not. I don't know why the dog selected my bag but it seems likely that it had something to do with it smelling rural Uganda. My bag got completely unpacked and I got thoroughly searched. They didn't find anything and eventually let me go on my way.  Maybe it had nothing to do with the rats but I think it may have. 

It was all a reminder of how security is a little different in the developed world. As I cleared airport customs in Uganda I didn't have to take my computer out of its case or even walk through a working metal detector. I figure I passed 9 security/customs checks and they became increasingly difficult. Chicago's were by far the hardest and the meanest and I'm an american citizen! I can't even imagine what it is like for foreigners.

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