Tarantula Trauma 

Living amongst leaves that extend past my height and growing fruits that are easily the size of my head, the constant creep crawly companionship isn’t hardly surprising. What did I expect when I came to reside in a Filipino jungle? Sharing a room with a friendly beady eyed gecko is one thing. Even if taming and evolving the cute creature into a rapunzel style sidekick did cross my mind (more than once), he remains in the safety of the corner peering down at me and freeing my space of the unwanted buzzing insects. What a lovely gesture.

The thought of having ants patrolling the length of my bedroom once would have disgusted me, yet now, it is ingrained into everyday life. Ants kind of fascinate me. Their clear social soldier like actions mysteriously drawing me in. Finding millions of them scurrying around the toilet seat is a completely different story, but as long as my path doesn’t cross their trail, we can live in harmony together.

After spending three months in Southeast Asia last year and encountering 0 eight legged beasties of a concerning size, their presence had scurried away from my knowledge, briefly. Having replaced the concrete trees of Phnom Penh for the dense green thickness, I should have been more prepared. He caught me off guard as I relax on my princess in the pea style piled mattresses that is my slightly unsturdy bed. The anticipated daily rains had been oddly absent this afternoon but had just begun to thump down onto the roof. The constant questionable unknown creature noises squawk and rattle through the leaves and branches, anticipating the upcoming downpour.

The heavens break and scale down around the cottage with a mighty crash! Out of the corner of my eye I spot the beast, he has been awakened. His thick black body unmissable against the peeling magnolia paint. Where had he been hiding? How did he get in? More importantly, what am I going to do!?

Despite being immune to many aspects here than would otherwise cause uncomfort in my everyday Mancunian life, tarantulas, or any spiders exceeding the size of a 1 pence coin for that matter, throw me way over the edge of the cliff. I become this squeaking and squawking, foul mouthed pathetic wimp. With the previous night’s full moon dragging up my inner werewolf and causing insomnia, I had been really looking forward to a full night’s sleep. I was treating myself to the glories of air conditioning after indulging in drizzled chocolate cake for supper. I had been more than content, before this rude interruption.

I prepare for the long night ahead, flip flop glued to my hand for the next 8 hours, bag safely on board the mattress. I place myself in the most strategic position, right in the centre of the bed, able to swiftly maneuver myself in any direction necessary at any given moment. Endlessly refreshing my Wi-Fi in hopes that I’ll all of a sudden miraculously begin to receive messages again and attempt to find my answer to this predicament on google, I hear this faint whooshing scrape. I shoot my gaze over to the bare magnolia wall. Great.

Now standing, praying that the top mattress doesn’t begin to slowly slide its way towards the floor as it does every single night, and attempting to keep my balance, I begin to logically assess the situation. There are currently only 3 options;

  1. He’s amongst all my rable and belongings on the dressing table

  2. He’s snuck behind the mirror or

  3. He’s disappeared into thin air just as miraculously as he appeared.

This was the point I should have cut my losses, braved the darkness and gone to sleep. How I longed to be blissfully unaware of his presence in the room, but instead I was fully aware that I was unaware of his exact and precise coordinates which sent constant shivers crawling over me.

Once the courage had been plucked up to actually move off the bed, it was conlcuded that there is no chance he was behind the mirror, even the ants couldn’t venture down there. He just HAD to be amongst my belongings. Whilst not being able to see the fat body and hairy legs my courage began to grow. Plucking a pen from my saved bag I reach across and start searching in between books and bags and makeup. No movement. Nothing. Maybe it was option 3, maybe I had made him up, maybe I was going to be okay, maybe I should just go to bed and forget the whole thing happened. But my subconscious knew. She just knew.

Leaving the light on for protection (do spiders frazzle in the light?) I place my head down onto my pillow, keeping my belongings close and my eyes fixed on the dresser. You’re there, I know you’re there. My eyes started to feel like they could close, my alert was down, I could almost taste the freedom…until this flash of black whipped itself from amongst my makeup and plummeted itself to the underside of the desk. Damn it. Okay, now what?

Kneeling myself into the appropriate viewing position, he was still, waiting. Well, that’s not going to do me any good. The longer he stays still the longer I’m going to be awake watching him staying still. He needs to get out. I know, let’s make some sudden noises, scare him into moving and consequently scare me into screeching whilst not moving any closer to a positive outcome from this, brilliant idea. Bravo.

A sudden move of the chair and he drops onto the floor, scurrying to find somewhere to hide. I flail the flip flop around with no significant purpose.  A two hour long battle sees inventive hiding spots, the inanimate contents of my bag being hauled to uncover said hiding spots, including tampons and hand sanitizer. He sprints the length of my room, scaling walls and jumping, yes JUMPING, between them. Someone forgot to mention the tiny yet incredibly pressing information that tarantulas jump. This is not what I signed up for.

Vital progress was made on my behalf as my courage grew (again, due to the fact he was hiding behind a bag and I couldn’t see his grotesque body) and saw my battleship develop from the bed to the chair. A variety of weapons had been cautiously collected yet had continuously failed me. A new strategy had to be devised. A strategy that involved attempting to leave the bedroom, which also involved placing one’s feet off my islands of safety into his territory. I could do it, come on girl. THIS GIRL CAN.

Flip flop in hand, tarantula behind bag, prime opportunity. Leaping towards the door and jolting it open in one swift movement, I begin my search for appropriate trap supplies. Which, unfortunately, were non existent. Brutality was my only option. It had to be done. I tug on my trainers for protection, load my hand and arms with appropriate weaponry, trusty flip flop ever present, and purposely march my way back towards the room. Quickly and swiftly I reposition myself on the bed causing minimal noise and disturbance. Plan of action; reach for bag without moving it, give bag a sudden tough tug, Mr. Tarantula reveals himself, dive, flip flop, done. Fool proof.

3, 2, 1… tug. Nothing. Tug again. Nothing. What. Sigh of relief amongst disappointment. Tug again, out he sprints! Making a beeline for…THE BED! This was NOT a part of the plan! Screaming inside, (considering it is now gone 2am, I don’t want to wake my sleeping housemates) waving my arms frantically, adrenaline pumping, heart pumping faster, I leap for the door. Abort mission, I repeat, ABORT MISSION.

All I wanted was to go to sleep peacefully and quietly, by myself, and now I see reinforcements!? Charging towards me coming to rescue his friend, who I’m praying hasn’t yet made the leap from underneath the bed, the big brother. This isn’t fair. Legs shaking and skin crawling, with a great struggle and uncoordinated movements I manage to avoid letting my path cross with the hand size monster that had come to make sure I never feel comfortable in the cottage ever ever ever again and slam the door (as quietly as possible) behind me.

The sofa is my final option, except, all my necessities were being held hostage. This really wasn’t my night. Once my breathing restructured itself and I’d managed to contain my nervous shakes, it was time to begin the rescue mission.

Trainers on, glasses on, flip flop in hand. Movements from my housemate awakes me as she comes into the living room to find me using a chair cushion as a pillow. Well, I’m alive. And if there is anything I’ve learnt from this traumatic ordeal, it is 1) don’t throw tampons at spiders and 2) just ring your 24 hour housekeeping service to come and remove the unpleasant creatures. Or else they’ll just hide away the next day nowhere to be found, ready to repeat the harrowing events the following night…

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