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Filed Under (General) by Rob on 01-11-2007

And that’s not roasted and dipped in honey!!!


These wee beasties were out in our back yard with about five others last night, so I sprayed ’em. Today, I went out there and found these three lying on their backs, dead! (Okay, okay, I admit I lined them up for the benefit of the photo!) As African insects go, cockroaches are some of the least agreeable, although they don’t bite or give you malaria, which is something. They just don’t look nice and the way they walk is kinda creepy. Some of them even FLY!!!

At the moment, we’re finding two or three a week in our house, mostly around Micah’s bedroom!! Here’s another post about cockroaches and other ‘invaders’ to our house, and don’t forget to look at the creepy crawlies album in the gallery if you like that sort of thing!

INTERESTINGLY, some people eat cockroaches – YUK!!!!! Click here for a YouTube video of a bloke doing just that (not for the faint-hearted). Also, the Congo Cookbook has various recipes with insect ingredients, including termites, grasshoppers, caterpillers and ants but no cockroaches as far as I can see. My advice is don’t try this at home (or even as somebody else’s house!!) In fact, I’ve just found this article, which has a lot about eating insects but says eating cockroaches can be dangerous:

Some Isaan folk believe that eating cockroaches can cure certain illnesses. But this insect…is a real health hazard even if cooked before being eaten…the cockroach spreads disease because it is host to a number of dangerous viruses and bacteria and a carrier of parasites like Raillietina sisiraji and Moniliformis which can cause stomach ache, diarrhoea, tiredness and hallucinations.

So there you go – you have been warned!!

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 12-02-2010

I LOVE looking at this blog’s statistics now and again…

For example, the counter says that I’ve had 2,814 visitors from the UK, 2,543 from the USA, 201 from Canada, 79 from Mali and 70 from Benin! I wonder who they are and why they visit?

Well, below are some clues as to why people visit this blog. Here are the main search phrases and their percentages:

Which is the only king in a modern standard pack of
cards that doesn’t have a moustache? (14.8 %)
Space hopper (5.5 %)
Rob Baker (5.5 %)
Lois and Rob in Benin (3.7 %)
Kids riding bikes (3.7 %)
Giving Chocolate (3.7 %)

Fascinating! Apparently, the king without a moustache question rates fifth in the world out of about 44,000!!! (And all because of this trivia question!)

The following have also been searched, but less often:

Cotonou market photos (1.8 %)
Climate in Mali (1.8 %)
Wake up tired malaria (1.8 %)
Malian culture 1 1.8 %
Mitsubishi Montero car 2009 (1.8 %)
Co arinate (1.8 %)
Cockroaches (1.8 %)

Thanks to Reggie for sending me those – I hope you all found them interesting!

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 28-10-2008

I got home from Africa last night and – somehow – managed to bring back THIS extra passenger with me:

It’s rather a mystery, and I’ve no idea how it happened, but after I’d unpacked, I left one of my empty bags in the hallway for a while, then put it away. An hour or two later, Lois went downstairs and saw what she presumed to be a plastic, ‘trick’ cockroach. However, upon closer examination, it proved not only to be a REAL cockroach, but also to still be ALIVE (if a tad stunned)! Here he is on our staircase (probably wondering what carpet is!)

I guess this kind of thing can happen easily, but it was a little scary – I’m just glad it wasn’t a poisonous spider or snake than snuck into my bag when I wasn’t looking! You’ll remember how much I ‘love’ cockroaches from this previous blog post, which has a particularly revolting photo of them.

Finally, I was in a village in Benin in June and went out to use the ‘loo’ at night (a basic, long-drop style toilet) only to find the walls literally COVERED in cockroaches!! I didn’t hang around to count them (or even take a photo for the blog) but there must’ve been at least 50 of them. Needless to say, I figured my ‘business’ was not so urgent that it couldn’t wait until the morning…

Thanks for reading. More on my EPIC trip back home soon!

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 15-03-2008

A few months back, I left this post on the blog about mosquitoes and my friend Hugo left the following comment:

“Rob, you should try one of these amazingly satisfying mosquito electrocuting tennis raquets (you can buy them at Orca Deco)”

So I did as he said and went out and bought one. Here’s what it looks like:


You plug it into the mains for a few hours, then the grille becomes electrified when you press a button on the handle. Then, any mozzies flying into its path (or into whose path you fly it) are instantly fried with 220v. Here’s one I killed earlier:


I’m not sure it would pass health & safety standards back home. You’d only have to catch your leg, right ear or left hand with the racket to get a nasty shock. Still there is a warning on the racket not to touch this part, and it is only activated when you are pressing a little button. That said, I certainly keep it out of my kids’ reach!

It’s a fun (if mildly sadistic) way to kill mosquitoes, and is preferable to other methods, which include:

(i) The aerosol spray – kills ’em alright, but probably kills you slowly too! Nightmare if you suffer from asthma, I can tell you.
(ii) The ‘wall whack’. Spot a mozzie on the wall. Get your hand close and then…SPLAT! Success rate approx. 65%. The rest of the time they see you coming and leg it (wing it?!)
(iii) The hand clap – fun but tricky. Success rate 20%, but rewarding when it works. The more adept can even try the single handed squash using the fingers of the same hand against the palm. Once I was in a church clapping along to some syncopated rhythm (as you do) and – by chance – an unfortunate mozzie flew between my hands at the precise moment they clapped together. And I wasn’t even trying to squash it!
(iv) The smoking coils
– they may repel mosquitoes, but the quantity of carcinogens emitted could seriously damage your health. This report (as well as this one) suggests that burning one all night could equate to having over 100 people smoking in your bedroom!!

So, I’ll stick to my new, non-polluting, fun mozzie-killer – it even gives off a satisfying ‘CRACK’ and a blue spark each time you kill one! I did try it on the cockroaches in the back yard, but it was not especially successful (unless you beat them with the rim…)


PS Here’s another blogger’s take on the racket (just in case I’ve not given you enough links yet).

PPS ‘Orca Deco’ is a great shop for lots of household stuff. Well worth a visit if you’re in Cotonou. Here’s where to find it on Google Earth/GPS: 6º22’31.40″N 2º25’22.60″E.

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 02-05-2007

(That’s a Scottish phrase, for the uninitiated!) For the second time since we’ve lived in this flat, we had a MOUSE in our lounge…

It came whizzing out into the hall, where both Lois and I happened to be, then turned tail and skidded back into the lounge, Lois screaming in the process! So, Rob to the rescue!

Step 1: Close all doors out of lounge

Step 2: Get a suitable container to catch the rodent

Step 3: Pull out furniture and shine torch behind.

Step 4: Once located, scare the mouse into an easy corner.

Step 5: Once cornered, get the tub on him fast!


Having completed the above, it was time to admire my catch:


Foolishly, I lift off the cover to have a peek and, whoosh, like a flash he’s out again. “Crikey, mate! This little critter’s really got some energy!” as our dear departed Aussie would have said.  So, back to step 3 or 4 and he’s caught again soon.  Here’s Ruthie admiring said rodent:


So, we take him out into the street, where I take the cover off and throw him out (as far away from me and the house as possible!) and he scurries off, looking a bit like Peter Pettigrew!!   Phew – let’s hope that’s the last time!

Other regular visitors to our house include:

  • Cockroaches, like this one:


  • Geckos – friendly little creatures, which apparently eat mosquitos, so we leave them be.  The only trouble is they do poos everywhere and you find loads when you look behind any of the pictures on the wall.
  • Lizards – not so nice and a bit huge!  Usually, you just open the door and chase ’em out, but I have also used the mouse technique!
  • Mosquitos – gotta splat ’em before they get you!
  • Spiders – nothing too big or ugly.  Plenty of flat spiders which jump rather than spin a web (but which are susceptible to bug spray!)

Filed Under (General) by Rob on 21-04-2007

Aaarrrgghh! We’ve had SOOOOOO many power cuts this week – it’s been almost unbearable!!!

Our friends the Vickers said that the power outages were one of the worst things to deal with here. However, since they left on Sunday it got worse and worse, with a total of around 59 hours without electricity in five days!

Here’s a brief low-down:

  • Monday – The electricity went off at 6:00am and did not come back until 9:00pm. We ended up going round a few shops in town, which have generators and good aircon.
  • Tuesday – First day back at school. Power on and off a bit during morning, then cut from 1:00-3:00pm. Another twist: our freezer door has broken – the lower hinge has almost completely rusted off, so it no longer shuts properly.
  • Wednesday – Luxury: NO POWER CUTS all day, until 11:00pm!
  • Thursday – Bad night’s sleep due to no power all night. I have work to do, so take the laptop round to the local cyber cafe, which has power and internet! The air-conditioning is also nice, with midday temps well over 30 degrees C. It finally returns at 2:45pm after almost 16 hours, but the lights are very dim, the fans hardly moving and various appliances keep going off and on (spooky!) Off totally from 3:30-5:45pm, then back again…until 10:10pm. The water is also cut by bedtime. Can’t get to sleep until early hours. No cool water left to drink, only mango juice! Our kitchen reeks of rotting flesh as the meat in the freezer gradually goes off.
  • Friday – Get up and remove ALL meat from freezer and mop kitchen floor. Still no power. I spend an extra long time at the gym as it has good aircon, then hit the cyber cafe. NO CONNECTION! Aaaarrgggh! Finally, at 9:50pm, the power returns and hasn’t gone off again since (and it’s now Saturday evening).

Phew! Let’s hope this is the end of such a long spate of power cuts!



Other News:

  1. Micah lost his first tooth the other week:


  1. We have the school summer fair on Saturday, right at the start of rainy season. Let’s hope it stays dry (and there’s power!!!)
  2. Rob’s next workshop is from 3-5 May in Togo (why are there never any in Benin?!?)
  3. We have a new CREEPY CRAWLIES album on the photo galley, which includes this fab photo of a grasshopper, taken by Madelaine:

Grasshopper (Taken by Mads)

(click to enlarge)


Over the months several hundred photos have accumulated on the gallery (any idea how many, Reg?) In case you’re new to this malarky, here are the albums. Click on any one that interests you to see its photos:

Cotonou Photos


Benin Photos (general)


Wild animals at the Pendjari National Park


Togo Photos – a very pretty country


Rob’s Ethnomusicology experiences


Creepie Crawlies – cockroach, mosquito, millipede, and THE moth!!


African people – some great shots of a variety of people.


Birds of Togo and Benin – this one’s for you, Steve P!


Rob’s shirts – it had to be done. They have become a tad legendary of late!


The ‘Touareg Trail’ – some crazy guys in Citroën 2CV’s drove across the Sahara and finished up in Cotonou!!!


Friends and Stuff – Jon Assheton, the Vickers, Clive Rahn…etc.


Birthdays etc. Blowing out candles, parties, food, balloons etc.

That’s all for now. Thanks for visiting – please leave a comment if you have time.

Rob et al