all african adventures must have the following:

a) a trip to a safari park (complete with blurred pictures of “an aligator, see? you can see it right there, … i think…?! or is that a hippo…?!”);

b) a trip home with a sunburn (“i just didn’t have a clue that the sun would be that intense in *insert african country name here*”);

c) a standard story of how you got “ripped off” by locals (esp. hawkers or salespeople – no folks, it’s not a rip-off if you agreed to the price!);

d) a semi-lame hair weave or plaiting (accompanied by a “really great” story of some wonderful local who became your best friend and did it for you); and

e) a story of how you ate bugs (or some other comparable nastiness).

so here’s my obligatory bug story.

i’m walking along, minding my own business and chatting with my colleague, today on the way from a take-away restaurant when she asks if i’d mind stopping into a different resto for her to grab something. we go into this bizarre shop that looks like a used-car dealership (sans the cars) and she orders her food. she points to the counter where there are bowls of assorted salads you can order. “have you tried this?” she asks as she lifts the plastic wrap off of one bowl. “nope,” i respond as i look into what looks like a bowl of black worms. i didn’t want to make assumptions given that i’d already tried tripe last week (and almost threw up over that experience) and the contents looked much the same. the clerk smiles and offers me one. yup, it’s a worm. a big fat black worm, complete with large shiny black head and a hundred spindley little half-fried off legs. (ugh).

i say no thanks but the shopkeeper insists. my colleague is also standing there looking at me expectantly and encouraging me to give it a try. doing my best for cultural exchange and sensitivity i take it and bite down.

nevermind the feeling of a hundred little legs on your tongue, the worst is the hard thin-shelled crunch followed by soft inexplicable gooeyness.

screw cultural sensitivity, i ran out the shop and promptly spit it onto the ground, doing my best to spit out the little legs that have now lodged themselves between my tongue and teeth.

the two instigators are still standing in the shop laughing their asses off at me. i’m embarassed and ashamed (i’m supposed to be skilled and trained in diplomatic relations!) and thoroughly grossed out by the experience and they’re falling off their feet with laughter!

once i’d regained composure i apologised profusely, grabbed my colleague and her food, and we headed back to the warm comfort and safety of the office.

the kicker: apparently my zulu colleague has never even eaten these things (mopani worms/masonja, a “delicacy” from another (shangaan) tribe). once we got back to the office she told me that she wouldn’t have the courage to eat them.

yup yup yup.

those silly canadians – they’ll chow anything!

ever feel like an anthropological experiment gone bad??

i’m looking forward to the office party tomorrow. we’ve been told that there’s a one-drink minimum, unless you buy your own booze. and so i ask, what is an office party without booze and a convenient excuse to hit on your coworkers?! 😉

thankfully there will be only beef at the buffet, no mopani worms.