May 11, 2009 10:00 PM
Student Hostel, Eldoret, Kenya
The thunder started during dinner and the heavy rains quickly followed. The rains were much needed as farmers were beginning to dig up their recently planted corn in search of food. The rains continued into the night. The rainy season had finally arrived in earnest. I sat at my desk in the dorm reading and listening to the rain when a winged termite landed on the page in front of me. Then I heard the buzzing sound. I looked up and saw over 100 termites crawling on my ceiling and thousands more climbing my windows up to the open vent window I hadn’t noticed was open. After quickly shutting the small window, I grabbed a grocery bag and began scraping as many of the invaders off my walls and into the bag as possible. When I was satisfied that I had most of them, I took the bag out into the hall to release them outside. That’s when I realized that the entire dorm had been over run by hundreds of thousands of the winged insects. The water from the rains drives them from their underground homes. Then, they fly towards the lights of the dorms and congregate in vast swarms. Quickly after landing, their wings fall off and the now wingless insects begin to crawl looking for food. It was an amazing sight, but there was one thing left to do to make this a truly Kenyan experience. My friend Benson had showed me these termites before and told me that the Kenyans like to eat them as a delicacy. To demonstrate, he popped one in his mouth and ate it. I was standing alone in a giant swarm of termites. As one flew by, I plucked it from the air by it’s wings and in a quick bite, I ate the live termite. It crunched. It was salty. It wasn’t all that good. I have heard they are good fried and even cooked into an omelet. I may have to try that someday, but at least now I am one step closer to knowing what it’s like to be Kenyan.