By Pedro Pablo Morejon
HAVANA TIMES – It’s a sad thing to say, but rats, these unwanted rodents and vectors of many diseases, have been an inescapable part of my life, for as long as I can remember. I guess that this is true for many Cubans.
I remember the traps in my grandparents’ home to catch them, back when I was a child. That shack where I once discovered baby rats, which we call guayabitos here. And their constantly attacking any food stored away.
Luckily, we didn’t only have traps back in the ‘80s, but we also had different kinds of rat poison. It wasn’t so hard to get rid of them at least back then, because we had some means to do this.
Time has flown by and I have been reminded of their presence over some periods of time, but it’s never been like it is today.
I haven’t been sleeping properly for some nights now. I hear regular noises all over the house, and at dawn, I find something on the floor, rat droppings and a stench that turns my stomach while being disgusted, angry and feeling powerless.
When midnight comes…
Midnight rolls around, and the noises begin again. I switch the light on and I see them there. There are two of them, they walk around as if they own the house, on the kitchen counter. Which of course had been clean and tidy up until they arrived.
I see them only for a split second. They react to my presence like a flash of lightning and run towards the wooden shelves that are underneath. I pick up a stick that I have ready for this occasion. I make them come out but they are quicker than I and manage to escape, although I almost hit one.
I don’t know what to do. I go to sleep again. I wake up and when I think I can fall back asleep, they come back making a racket.
I repeat the operation and one of them ends up stuck between the wall and a piece of wood I have for cutting meat.
Completely disgusted, I crush it until its tail stops moving. Then, I stop pressing because I know I’ve just spilled its guts.
I think about this for a few seconds but I quickly take action, I have no other choice. I pick it up by the tail with the fingertips of my index and thumb finger. I open up the back door, go out onto the balcony and throw it away as far as I can. His friend managed to get away.
I can’t throw out the cutting board I have to cut meat on. So, I cover it with detergent and scrub it as hard as I can with a toothbrush until I’m sure not a single cell of that disgusting trespasser is still on it. I do the same with my hands and go back to sleep, nauseous.
At dawn, I discover that the plastic lid that was covering a large container that I keep rice in, had been devoured, literally. Not to mention the small dark droppings on the corner of the counter and floor.
I make some bread with guava jam for breakfast. I keep almost all of my food in the fridge. I now keep the few root vegetables I have in the lower compartment. They have eaten some in previous days when left out, bread too.
I head out to Consolacion del Sur, not before wiping down the counter. I go to the Municipal Center of Hygiene and Epidemiology, but the trip is made in vain because they don’t have any rat poison.
So where can you get a mouse trap?
In the afternoon, I ask some neighbors whether they have a trap they can lend me. That’s when I find out that they are also suffering because of these rodents. They ate holes into one of my neighbor’s clothes.
I’m told about a woman who sells rat traps for 150 CUP (6 USD), but she’s run out of them now. They’ll let me know when she gets them back in again.
One neighbor told me that I could poison them with a bit of cement. However, it’s just as hard to find that and anything else as it is to find water in the Sahara Desert.
Until a solution comes along, my nervous system will have to continue suffering because of these damned rodents.