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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Interview with a Vampire

Before I begin telling the story of how I woke up to a bat in my room at site, let me back track a little bit.

Site announcements were made on September 6th. I found out I will be working at the Rakai Community School of Nursing located half a kilometer from the Rakai District Hospital. I was more than pleased to hear this news. I heard there would be a few health volunteers in the Rakai area and I was hoping to be one of them after hearing about the beauty of Rakai from current volunteers.

After site announcements, we left for language immersion, which took place in Kayunga, a little east of Kampala near Jinja. It was fun, however my dreaded nemesis, Pee Butt, made his second appearance, along with his faithful sidekick, Vomit. The first night I was living in the bathroom, drying to determine which was more important, throwing up into a sink or successfully making it to the toilet. Needless to say, the toilet won. I slept for most of the day, missed some Luganda and cried. Yes, I cried. I was so upset that a) I was sick AGAIN, b) I had PEE BUTT, and c) I was missing Ven and Herbie teach numbers in Luganda, the one thing I felt I NEEDED to learn. Lucky for me, Griffin let me use her iPad so I watched some movies to distract me from what can only be described as knocking on Death’s door. 24 hours later, I was almost completely fine. Pee Butt was still present, but it wasn’t as bad as at the Orphanage (a.k.a. Banana Village). Thank Shiva for good friends and technology.

After my near death, I traveled to Rakai, accompanying Dorothy until Masaka. Masaka proved to be a pretty hip town; they have a bakery (with smells reminiscent of the U.S.) and coffee shops galore. Okay, maybe not galore, but it’s the closest big town so I have to talk it up! My site supervisor, Cylus (pronounced Cyrus), picked me up from Masaka and drove me out to Rakai. We stopped in Kyotera along the way, which is the closest town that has decent markets to me. Rakai town is fairly small, but its quant. The whole town knows each other; it’ll be nice to move there and get to know people. Hopefully it won’t take too long for people to stop calling me Mzungu (foreigner in Luganda). When I got to Rakai Community Nursing School, I was pleasantly surprised by how beautiful the campus was. It is under renovation and it is coming along quite nicely. My housing is right on campus and it is newly built so I have pretty good accommodations. Too bad no toilet though. I have three rooms and my own private bathroom complete with a shower (which works when there is running water) and a flushing, porcelain latrine (again, which flushes when there is running water). I have electricity most of the time, until it goes out. It’s more available than Wakiso though. My supervisor said I could paint my room, hopefully I can take advantage of that and really personalize the place. The best part about my housing is the view. Every morning I get to wake up to mist covered mountains and a lake. I can see the mountains that border Tanzania (sweet!). I have to say, even though I don’t have a toilet, the view absolutely makes up for it.

Now, to the bat story.

Imagine this:

It is 6:00 am. You are sleeping soundly after a day of visiting health centers and distributing food. Suddenly you hear a crash against one of your bedroom doors…

That is how the story begins. So after being startled awake, I grab my flashlight and search the room for what I can only imagine is an intruder. After searching the room I find nothing, until I just happen to pass my flashlight to the ground where I see a bat (keep in mind throughout this tale that the bad is no bigger than the palm of my hand). At first I didn’t realize it was a bat until I saw it stretch out its wings. I immediately thanked PCMO for giving us the last round of the rabies vaccine and tried to come up with some kind of plan to get the bat out. First I put on my hoodie (hood and all) and pulled down my tights so that just in case I was attacked, the bat wouldn’t get skin, at least not right away. I opened one of the doors to my bedroom and also opened a second door which opened outside. I grabbed a broom to use to scare the bat into flying out of the room. As I walked back into the room, the bat decided to crawl in the opposite direction into my front room, where the windows and doors were all closed. I decided to let the bat stay in there and worry about it when I woke up. After closing the doors and getting back into bed, I started hearing more bumping and thumping, this time coming from the front room. I could only guess that it was the bloody bat trying to escape again. I realized also that there was a hole in the ceiling in the front room, where I did not want the bat to stay and live (a pet bat was the last thing I wanted in Uganda). I decided I would attempt to get this bat out. At first I was going to call my supervisor, but I really didn’t want to wake him up so I thought I’d at least attempt to take care of it by myself. I opened the back doors again and very slowly opened the door to the front room. The bat was sitting on the floor facing me. Lucky for me, the light to the front room is all the way on the opposite side of the room, so I had to walk across the room, across the bat, to get to the light. I did so successfully, but when I turned on the light I realized I didn’t have the key to the front door, which I needed to open it. As I started to creep towards my bedroom to get the key, the bat stirred, causing me to let out a mild shriek and run into my bedroom. I grabbed the key and peered back into the front room. Thankfully, the bat was still in the room in the corner next to one of my stools. I decided my sandals were making too many vibrations and causing the bat to stir so I put on my socks to quietly creep back into the front room. I successfully unlocked the front door and tried to scare the bat into flying out (either the back or the front) by shaking the broom at it. I was only successful at stirring the bat, causing it to flutter around, scaring me into running out my front door. I stood outside the front door and watched as the bat went back to the middle of the room. I began throwing pieces of toilet paper and a plastic bag at the bat to scare it to fly out. This only made it crawl towards me. As it came closer I almost fell down the mountain running away from it. Meanwhile, my supervisor sees me and decides to say hello. I tell him there is a bat in my room which he initially did not seem to understand but after a second realized and came to “help”. By this time the bat was crawling out of the door and out of sight. Hopefully it is the last time I run into a bat, but I think my supervisor thinks I am crazy because he didn’t see this so called bat.

This whole ordeal took about 45 minutes.

I wish I had taken a video or at least a picture of the beast.

Just another morning in Uganda.



  1. was smaller than the palm of YOUR hand??

  2. btw..Post pics of the "the view" when you can

  3. ugandan bats are cray-cray! glad you survived the bat mans wrath, hahaha