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Creepy Crawlies

"The following letter is a comical reply to a criticism about an outbreak of stink bugs at Okonjima. The matter was rectified – but the letter was not sent, for fear that it would be taken in the wrong vein or used to the detriment of a very clean, well run organisation. The client’s comments did however inspire this letter. . . "- ED.

"He came to Africa, instead of enjoying all the splendour it had to offer – he stayed up all night and counted 150 tiny bugs that had crawled under the door"

Dear Mr Sir

Authenticity is a credibility not easily obtained. It has taken literally years to have a fully breeding nest of stink bugs resident in our tree at Main Camp; we are very pleased that the staff pointed this out to you as it usually goes unnoticed. As a layman, (or non African resident), you cannot imagine the cost of rounding up bugs pre season to add that very special African feel. In the past, there were numerous complaints that the rooms at Main Camp were sterile and clinical, not a fly, bug, lizard or ubiquitous cockroach to be seen. This problem gave the Hanssen family deep concerns about the future of Okonjima as fly and bug enthusiasts were slandering our good name; you can imagine the sort of thing " bugless conservationists who only look after endangered species"- "species discrimination at Okonjima" – “ Cleanliness eradicates the much needed insects at Okonjima" – "Okonjima not authentic African bush".

This had a very detrimental effect on our turnover, the lack of a well established arthropod society meant that studious ornithologists boycotted our humble abode for lack of avian delights. The lacertilian community disintegrated, rodents rebelled and even ungulates took umbrage. All of this combined meant that tourists - "a person or persons who strive to broaden their minds by leaving there normal {bug free or bug ridden} environments to immerse themselves in the rich diversity of flora and fauna of another country" - stopped coming and the impact on the endangered carnivores was catastrophic. This was in complete contradiction to raison d`etre of Okonjima so something had to be done.

At first we decided to reintroduce large amounts of cattle or large African antelope that would foster the growth of invertebrates within the region. Unfortunately, those tourists who did arrive from Europe complained that the smell reminded them of home, not authentic Africa, although the smell emanating from a herd of wildebeest as opposed to a herd of Aberdeen Angus is difficult to differentiate in my mind!!

We had a go at importing plastic bugs from Taiwan but suffered retribution from trade description officials. Import duties were astronomical, bird populations suspected something and got rather thin. Tourists complained that choking frogs were keeping them awake at night and just to add insult to injury, we suffered a law suit from insect repellent manufacturers.

All in all, we decided it would be far more beneficial to our financial turnover and, therefore, our endangered carnivores to leave nature to do what it does best – produce an abundance of life in all sorts of shapes and forms. Initially this seemed to do the trick, but believe it or not there were more complaints from the real enthusiasts; "no barking geckos" "no orthopterons (crickets) to keep us awake at night" "No authentic African sounds" We even had dissatisfied clients who insisted that we shave off 2cm of the door bottoms to let in smells and sounds of Africa to add to the ambiance, this had the added effect of keeping the discerning ophidian, (snake), lovers very happy, as their nocturnal meanderings, (the snakes not the tourists), could be watched from the comfort of their, now bug infested, beds. Sorry, didn’t I mention the snakes? Well that’s another story…

Needless to a say, but I will anyway, it has taken years of dedication and tireless enthusiasm to re-introduce a plethora of various "creepy crawlies" back into the home, {this also includes rooms, beds, cupboards, toilets, sinks, pillows, underwear, shoes, freshly made tea, sandwiches, new hairdo’s, baby’s milk bottles and last but not least – pyjamas!), of Okonjima. An enormous amount of money was spent on netting and face veils for the staff so they could gather and relocate various arachnids, (no explanation needed here unless you’ve been living in an incubation chamber or Kensington all your life), around the accommodations, so much money in fact that we now ask a 40% levy on all our rooms, however, we will consider a discount if you stay up all night and count less than the normal 150 bugs per room!! This rarely happens of course as most tourists forget to count the lice!!

I’m sure by now you are more than eager to re-book for next year and to enhance your stay, we at Okonjima can proudly announce that each room has red and black biting ants, comfortable infestations of bed bugs, an assortment of evening urinating moths, stink bugs that would put a Skunk to shame and an abundance of associated worms, maggots, frogs, bats, geckos, snakes, lizards and the much maligned giant cockroach, (scorpions in the slippers by special request).

This has brought tourists to our doors in droves which has kept the money pouring in so we can feed our endangered carnivores, although we are thinking of getting rid of them and concentrating all our efforts into Raphidiidae with the suborder Megaloptera – in other words- SNAKEFLIES!!

If you have any more asinine criticisms about authenticity, we would be only too glad to ignore them.

See you soon, (after the Amazon rainforest educational perhaps?)

Spiderman

"The views and opinions in this letter are the sole expression of the editor and not of the staff of Okonjima. This letter is a satirical retort to a particular situation that most lodges in Africa experience at least once a year – but because the guests ‘are always right’ - we do not have the privilege to express these feelings on paper; it may not be copied, edited, disclosed, distributed or taken out of context without the express permission of the editor" – OKONJIMA MANAGEMENT.

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