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Thursday, 2 March 2017

The Roman Invasion

Pitsane, Botswana

When travelling Rome, one could perhaps expect some sort of Roman invasion. However, the same expectations are the furthest thing from one's mind when visiting Botswana! Let me tell you about an event that 'bugged' me.

The Friendly Locals

I recently was privileged to visit some friends on a dairy farm in Botswana. While there, I had a most interesting altercation with one the Botswana inhabitants. The altercation concerns a tiny little creature called the Red Roman Spider. You have to understand that tiny is a rather relative term which needs further exploration. When compared to an elephant, I consider myself tiny. Just so, with the Red Roman. It is a monstrously huge spider when compared to other spiders and the one that took a liking to me measured a good 2 x 3 metres. It is true that when daylight arrived to shine more light on the carcass, the spider had shriveled up to a mere 2 x 3 centimetres, but in the early morning hours when I was reading in bed, it had certainly been much larger. Science struggles to comprehend this fact, but you will have to take my word for it. Anyway, I am getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you about my first encounter with the dreaded Red Roman Spider, which happen to have no venom sacks, but proves to be life threatening to humans due to its ability to cause heart attacks.

Yet another spectacular Botswana sunset

The wonder of technology is that it allows you to read in bed with the light switched off. This is very convenient, as you can simply switch your device off when sleep overtakes you and roll over in bed. No need to stretch your hand out to find the lamp. My iPad has made it possible for me to travel with a complete library and I tend to make full use of this benefit when I turn in. So it was on the night in question. I was peacefully lying in bed, with the iPad (almost) comfortably resting on my chest, reading a trashy romance novel, when Mr. Spider showed an interest in what I was reading. This was very odd behavior for a creature that normally shies away from light, but it just so happens that of all Red Romans, I happened to encounter the one that had a propensity towards reading and learning. It could not have known how terrible my choice of literature for the evening was, or it would have steered well away, I am sure.

Rustic beauty can be found in unexpected places

Nonetheless, Mr. Spider, or Roman, as I came to call him, suddenly made his appearance on the screen in front of me with the swagger and confidence of any of its Italian ancestors, leaving me with the sense of a Roman invasion likened to those that occurred under Caesar in years gone by. The attack was swift, but so was my reaction to it. Normally, I treat my iPad with the greatest of respect and avoid hard bumps and scratches. However, with the Romans upon us, I had to resort to drastic action. I gave an inward shriek of horror, as the house was quiet with sleeping occupants. Allow me to interrupt myself here, to comment that an inward shriek affords very little pleasure or relief, and leaves one feeling deprived of the ability to fully clear ones lungs of the sheer horror that has it clogged up. So, after taking time out to exercise volume control on my shrieks, I courageously defended house, home and occupants against the invasion by casually tossing the iPad and its invader across the room. I am a girl well versed in self-defence when it comes to warding off spiders and other insects, as I have never had a princely knight to save me from such unwelcome invaders. One could almost say that the action of tossing the iPad appeared to be rather more instinctive than practised, but then I have always held that one should trust to ones own instincts.

What to do when rains keep flooding the roads? Build a dam, like one of the locals did!

Not knowing if my opponent's instincts leaned towards fight, or flight, I cautiously left the relative safety of the bed, darted across the floor and threw the switch to swath the room in bright light, all the time balancing delicately on the tips of my big toes, in a manner that would have impressed the daintiest of ballerinas. I was relieved to find that Roman had opted to flee the scene of the crime. This was not a time to call for justice. Merely surviving seemed fair enough.

Spectacular nature around every corner

Having checked at least four times to make sure that Roman had truly gone, and wasn't merely playing hide and seek with me, it occurred to me that this was a really good time to spring clean the room. I took to the task with great energy, checking every corner, shelf and cavernous area of the room. I then decided that it was just as good a time to remake the bed. I pulled all of the covers off, gave them a good shake, turned them inside out, and shook them again, before finally settling them back down on the bed. Feeling very accomplished, I confidently strode towards the light switch, wavered a little, and finally threw the room back into darkness.

Botswana has lovely tarred roads, but it is the dirt roads that excite me

Not wanting to alert the enemy lines to the return of peace in the camp, I tiptoed back to the bed and cautiously slid into the covers. I listened intently for a long while, but could not hear the enemy approaching. Not feeling even slightly drowsy after the invigorating activity of spring cleaning the room, I decided to return to my book. I had only been reading a very short while when Roman, completely unfazed by my previous defense strategy, embarked on his return journey across the screen of the iPad. Now, I am not going to bore you with the tale of how I spring cleaned the room for a second time in one night, but I will leave you with a newly discovered benefit of eBooks. The force with which an iPad can come down on a cocky Italian spy, is enough to re-establish faith in the power of the press to influence the outcomes of wars. That spider never knew what hit him. And as for trashy romance novels? Let me assure you that it packs enough punch to waste the unwanted attentions of any unwelcome would-be Roman suitors.

Botswana has so little crime that livestock can roam freely without being nicked

Follow this link to find out more about the Red Roman Spider.

These 2 baby ostriches lived in the camp next to the house I was staying in. They were so tame that they would walk up to you and eat from your hand - if you had nerve enough to face those beaks!

Marietjie Uys (Miekie) is a published author. You can buy the books here:
You can purchase Designs By Miekie 1 here.
Jy kan Kom Ons Teken en Verf Tuinstories hier koop.
Jy kan Kom Ons Kleur Tuinstories In hier koop.
Jy kan Tuinstories hier koop.
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