the little things…
I crawled from my nest this morning, like a zombie climbing from his grave. No sleep… again. It’s been weeks since i’ve slept through the night. I sit up on my bed, and let my eyes adjust to the light blaring in through the curtains. Reaching for the mosquito net, my hand stops short… a giant, ugly spider is waiting on the other side. I try flicking and swatting it off- the last thing I want is for this thing to end up stuck in my hair as I crawl under the net. It scurries to the wall, and disappears behind my mattress. Whatever- out of sight, out of mind.
I shuffle over to my kitchen counter, still barely wake. I pick up my oversized coffee mug I left near the stove, and prepare my morning VIA. As I am putting in the third heaping teaspoon of sugar, a spider crawls over the lip of the mug. Ugh. It crawls away too fast for my delirious state to care, so I add one more teaspoon of sugar for good measure.
While the kettle is warming up, I open my door to head for the latrine. It’s so bright outside, I have to squint as I search for the handle of the screen door. My fingers touch something foreign; slender, pointy, scaly and rough- a lizards tail. It shoots back through the hole in the screen, and falls to the ground, sprinting away throgh the dirt on it’s little legs.
I walk towards the latrine, and grab a big stick along the way. The maze has grown as tall as me, and the path as become narrow- the perfect place for snakes. I walk slowly, scanning the ground in front of me, and listening for any rustle in the bushes. I reach the latrine, and I smack the tin door with the stick a couple times and wait. Nothing comes racing out, so I open the door, still standing to the side. I search the four-corners, the rafters, the cracks in the walls. When it is all clear, I enter. As the door slams shut behind me, three small, camelons scatter on the walls, and I startle. They are hard to see, blending into the cement blocks perfectly, except for their orange beady eyes. They perch at the top of the wall, un-phased by my presence.
I am swatting flies, and bees away. They are so loud in this tiny cell. As I am leaving I stand, and straight before me is a huge, GIANT centipede. It is only a few inches from my nose. Its the poisonous kind, I think, but its mesmerizing, so I stare a little longer. This thing is the biggest, blackest bug I have ever seen. As big around as a hot-dog, at least 6 inches long, and so many bright red legs I couldn’t begin to count them all if I had all the time in the world. I decide after a moment, I am too close. The “Survivor Man” series has taught me bright colors equal deadly poison in the wild, and I really don’t want to test his theory before my morning coffee. I exit the latrine, doing the same ritual in reverse. Open door, wait, scan, exit slowly, search the ground and nearby bushes for movement.
I make it back to my hut and the kettle is whistling. I remove it from the burner, but the screeching doesn’t stop. It’s rhythmic, and I know its a cricket. I track the sound to the corner by my bed. Somehow this cricket has snuck into my house and found a safe place to hind under my box spring. It’s too much work to find it, so I let it sing. I pour my morning coffee, and start writing this story. I often wonder how many bugs are crawling on my body at any given time, without my knowledge. That tickle on my leg, that scratch on the back of my neck. Africa is full of little creatures, and i’ve become pretty accustomed to all the little things…