Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Life's Wild in Colombo

Getting used to the 'wildlife' here has been another matter. I knew about ants, and having to keep everything in the fridge or in tupperware containers, and mop up immediately before the ants march in and take over. Cockroaches I loathe, but it's the unpredictability I dislike most.

I was getting breakfast ready at 6.45 one morning not , as you can imagine, feeling very with it at that time. However Mr Kitchen Gecko (they seem quite territorial) had other plans to wake me up. I opened the cupboard above my head to get the breakfast bowls out, and this particular gecko must have been snoozing along the top edge of the door, (and not an early riser like me) because when I opened the door he fell off his perch onto my forehead and plopped onto the back of my hand (they feel very spongy and rubbery) before scurrying away. Not the best early morning wake up call.......

M too showed he’s not all butch cockroach stomping machismo, because whilst in the hill country one wk/end, we were eating supper in the garden of our guesthouse and suddenly something huge flew across the garden and landed on M. It was 3 inches long and green. Mike leapt up (being familiar with the flying practices of cockroaches) and, not completely calmly, brushed it off frantically, having the same adrenalin rush I got with the gecko. It turned out to be a grasshopper/cricket type thing. Quite harmless, if rather large by English norms of grasshopper size.

But fool that I am to think these were bad. I nearly caught a flight home last night………

I am not usually that squeamish about insecty things, but I don’t much like big spiders.. Anyway I was lying in bed reading, just took my glasses off, and as I was lying down I saw something big , and blurry of course, shoot across my line of vision onto the skirting board a foot from the bed. I put my glasses back on and saw the 2nd biggest spider I have ever seen. (The biggest for those who are interested, was in Peru whilst climbing Machu Piccu. We sat down to picnic, and I sat down next to a tarantula. At least it was that size, shape, colour etc. I didn’t stop to ask if it was poisonous.) Anyway this one by my bed had a body about 2 “ long and 3/4 inch wide and legs that were easily 5inches long.

Unfortunately it was in the corner and when my hero M came to put it in a pot, it got away. I couldn’t believe how fast it went. So then we had this nightmare scenario, whereby it had gone behind our bed somewhere, and we didn’t know where. M decided he had to kill it, and he said we had to find it because ‘that was too big a spider to leave lurking in our bedroom!’ We also had no idea if they were harmless or not...

It took about 15 long minutes. M was heroically lying on the floor looking under the bed, in boxers and barefeet, pulling the bed out, shaking the curtains etc. Finally we found it on the window and M managed to squish it, even though he said it was very beautiful with stripey black legs... Can’t say I have ever been able to appreciate the beauty of spiders. I actually went outside the door because I thought I wd have nightmares if I had a close look at it, (remmeber that Doctor Who with the giant spiders?) and wd you believe it, I spotted another one on the ceiling in the landing. EVEN bigger.

So M began leaping up to try and wack it with his shoe, with it scurrying along upside down above his head. He got it on the 4th attempt. Now this is where the story gets even more horrible. When he examined it, he noticed it had a white sack on its body and what he thought were ants already devouring the dead spider. Nope. It turned out it was a mummy spider and 100s of tiny baby spiders had emerged from this sack and were running all over the place as M was wacking them with his shoe!

I am so glad we sleep under mosquito nets, now VERY firmly tucked in all round the edge. It feels a lot safer. I must admit I’ve been on edge all day putting my hand in cupboards, drawing curtains etc, for fear of what I might find. I wish I had remained in blissful ignorance of these monsters, which my neighbour casually assures me are harmless. I have to say though M was a complete hero, don’t know how he did it, and he admitted they were pretty disconcerting creatures. I realise what an important criterion it is to have a spouse who will heroically do battle with spiders of whatever magnitude.

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