It is rainy season in Indonesia, and it has been raining practically everyday. It is a blessing in this tropical environment. The air conditioner gets turned of in the morning and we let the breeze in through our large patio doors until the sun gets too fierce or until a bug flies in. After the sun sets, sometimes it gets chilly enough for my maids, who are used to the hot weather, to wear light cardigans. Unfortunately, the doors have to say shut at night because of mosquitoes. These pesky bloodsuckers are not the villains of the rainy season, though. In fact, the villains are much bigger–as big as you and me. They are people who throw trash into ditches and cause rampant cockroach attacks upon my house and neighborhood.
The ditches around my neighborhood are not completely covered. The newer houses have covered the ditches in front with concrete cover, but the older homes remain uncovered. Our neighborhood has a mostly middle to upper class population and most are educated enough not to throw trash into the ditch system. However, we have dozens of traveling food peddlers that go around the neighborhood daily and they do not think twice about using the ditches as their trash can. For an example, right across the street, there is an unmaintained house whose owner lets a food peddler set up shop for a couple of hours a day. This food peddler throws their leftover food into the ditch, and they show no concern as this happens every day of the week. Their ditch is connected to everybody else’s and their scum becomes ours. Their scum attracts pests and basically creates an infestation of cockroaches throughout the entire ditch system.
To be fair, ditch system is not exactly clogged. Unlike many areas around Jakarta, we do not get flooded even when it rains all day with an average downpour. During a very heavy rain or a thunderstorm, some parts of Jakarta are flooded to adult’s knee height, some places up to your thighs. Our streets usually get a pavement level of flood. The flood does not even reach our gates, but it fills up the ditches all the way to the top, propelling hundreds of cockroaches to seek refuge in dry places like up our exterior walls, front yards and houses.
Imagine dozens of cockroaches of every size imaginable crawling up your property. Our next-door neighbor even got some on his carport roof. We saw him climb up to get rid of them. It is gross, I know. This is the first time I have ever experienced it in Jakarta. Even my maids told me this is abnormal. My maids have been doing their best to prevent them from entering the house. We subscribed to Rentokil services, but they do not come right away. They usually come the next day to spray the ditches in front of our house when the bugs have retreated back to their nests.
Rentokil might have killed the cockroaches in front of my house, but there are hundreds more in other parts. All neighborhoods in Indonesia have a ‘Rukun Tetangga’ or Neighborhood Association. I am sure the swarm has affected the head of our RT as well. After last month’s cockroach attack, I saw her and a couple of neighbors pour gasoline into the ditches in an attempt to control it. I doubt it did anything. I think some kind of bait needs to be use. More importantly we need professional help, but I am not sure if everybody would fork out the money to fund it.
We are all experiencing the same thing but nobody is doing anything. I think it’s because most of them have their maids tackle the problem, so they are pretty numb to the whole thing. I know my husband is, because he is never home when it happens.
I am feeling pretty hopeless about the whole thing.
Rainy season is cockroach season.