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·476 words·3 mins

Rats. I’ve known since we moved that there are a lot of rats here. There were a lot of rats where we lived before, I just never saw one on our terrace on the fourth floor. Here I see them, especially at night, but sometimes even during the day, not really scurrying, but more like strolling around the edges of the veranda, and on the staircase. There’s a big palm on the landing, and they seem to have a nest somewhere behind it (there’s a gap that extends between two properties, so who knows exactly where). Sometimes I watch two of them fighting. They don’t even turn around to look at me.

In any case, I don’t really mind them if they leave us alone, which they have done, aside from strolling around, this past month and a half. The last couple of days (of heavy rains) they’ve started digging some of the plant pots. I’m not sure why they’re doing it. Maybe it’s their way to reconnect with nature? Are they looking for food? Will they eventually eat the roots and kill the plants? Maybe the garbage dumping spot on the sidewalk at the corner of our house becomes less appetizing when wet? Yesterday evening I sprayed some diluted peppermint oil, as I read rats dislike the smell, but they dug the spot again just the same.

I also found a large philodendron leaf chewed at the stem a couple of days ago when this all started, with claw marks on the leaf that looked too big to belong to a rat. I thought it might have been a monkey again. Maybe a civet? Maybe the mother of all rats. Strange problems, living in the center of a big city.

The other problem so far is our trash burning neighbor. I asked the landlady to ask them if they would accept a small monthly remuneration to stop burning their trash. The landlady said they’re aggressive and have threatened her and her family with physical fights in the past. I suggested we call the police, since it’s illegal to burn trash in the city, but the landlady was not keen on the idea.

Maybe the toxic fumes from the plastic make people violent? I hear the old man coughing horribly as he burns the trash every night. He even burns Styrofoam, which emits horrid black sticky smoke that contains styrene. I’ve sealed the window next to their coal stove with leftover bubble wrap from the move, and the home office is now smoke-free. A bad long term solution as we need to get some fresh air in here. The other place where the smoke gets in is a trapdoor close to the ceiling that will be more difficult to seal.

I’ll look for something positive to say on my next post, but I needed to vent.