Friday, February 10, 2006

Russell the Tunisian Mouse

Click to see larger version with Riaan's route
Riaan Manser became the first person to circumnavigate the continent of Africa by bicycle in November 2005. He met many fascinating individuals along the way, as you might imagine, including...Russell:
I had a friend join me for about 8 hours on Sunday while aiming for the Libyan border from Tunis . Although I sort-of kidnapped him , it certainly was not the situation from the outset. His name was Russell and he is a Tunisian field mouse.

Russell was huddled in a little ball , shivering uncontrollably in the pouring rain and chilling wind . He was also perilously close to passing traffic and probably in the back of his little mind he understands what I did for him. Nonetheless he enjoyed the warmth inside my jacket pocket and the full stomach that came from sharing my food. He seemed to enjoy the greasy rag I had used as a towel to dry him with initially and then subsequently as his bed. Approximately 30km after I had ‘saved’ him the two of us stopped at a garage for a snack . We ate outside in the parking area as I didn’t think the other customers would enjoy sharing the eating area with a rodent. This is where Russell made his first getaway. He jumped from my lap with an impressive leap. This had me running after him in a bent over position , cycling shoes clicking away like a tap dancer with me every now and then lunging unsuccessfully to scoop him from the ground. This minute or two event drew a group of onlookers most political rallies would be proud of . I put this embarrassment I had suffered down as the mandatory relationship building phase . Although very one sided currently , I remained committed (desperate) to make a new friend. We continued in the rain , me still getting soaked and Russell now cosy in his new apartment I had provided. Russell and I then stopped 25 km later for a drink of water . While I was having my drink Russell sat in my free hand wrapped in his cloth. Suddenly he decided again that he had had enough of my generosity and made a concerted effort to ‘escape’. This time , on his first leap, I managed to catch him mid-air and hold him more firmly than before. Russell then, without much hesitation , bit me and leaped clear of my reach. He first ran parallel to the traffic and then turned right into the grass area. Once again, I decided that the bite was part of the complexities in building a relationship. I followed him into the muddy grass area . Here I did the same ‘catch me if you can ‘ dance as before . Just the tapping sound was replaced by squelch of the mud under my tired shoes. Russell eventually got his freedom. But I am worried about him. He doesn’t even know anybody in that area . It could turn out to be a very lonely move on his part. Good luck Russell.

1 comment:

Leya said...

I can't say I have always been a rodent fan. But I happened upon your blog and I just wanted to tell you I think it's really sweet, and very interesting.