My mother arrived yesterday for a 10-day stay in South Africa. It’s wonderful to have her here.

It’s Mom’s first time in Africa and Joe and I want to make her stay as nice and comfortable as possible. Before she came we spent quite a bit of time arranging the furniture in the guest room, clearing closet space, etc. We’re very pleased with our work.

Our guest room has a great view of the garden and the Melville Koppies in the background.

We arrived home from the airport and showed Mom to her room. It was dusk. I opened the window to let in some air and turned on the bedside lamp. Then we left the room.

When we came back a few minutes later, the room was swarming with flying termites. Welcome to Africa, Mom! There must be a nest outside the window and they like to come out after the rain. (Sadly, no photos. I didn’t have my camera handy.)

We managed to get most of the termites out by turning off the light in the room and turning the back porch light on to attract the swarm. Then we stood by the window and watched as the termites flew up into the sky in search of a new nest. There were hundreds and hundreds of them.

Soon we realized we weren’t the only ones interested in the termites. Several cats ran excitedly through the garden. Birds and bats swooped through the air, snacking on termites as they flew.

Then, a pair of fuzzy rat ears appeared over the edge of the veranda roof. As the three of us watched in wonder (or horror), the rat reached up with his paws, snatched a termite from the air, and chowed down. He ran along the length of the roof, tail outstretched, and disappeared from view. A second rat joined the action.

I was thrilled by the rats’ hunting prowess. Joe and Mom were not so thrilled. Mom keeps asking why the rats don’t crawl into the house through the open windows. I have no answer for her but I can only say it hasn’t happened since I arrived (as far as I know).

I’ll have more to say about Mom’s visit in my next several posts. In the meantime, here is a photo I took today when we visited the Giraffe Centre, a funky shop at the corner of 7th Street and 2nd Avenue in Melville. It’s packed floor-to-ceiling with African art and souvenirs — a great place to to take out-of-town visitors.

Paper mache guinea fowl at the Giraffe Centre. Mom bought two.

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