Wednesday, June 6, 2007

When Scorpions Attack

I survived my very first scorpion encounter this week.

Looking back it was not nearly as terrifying as it felt at the time. I am happy that it is over with though and now I know what to expect…kind of. Let me paint you the picture. Get ready to laugh, as I’m going to write about it as dramatically as possible so that you all know how it felt.

It’s 10pm. We’ve just finished a yummy dinner of Haco (my favorite!--a mushy paste of leaves and fish poured over couscous) and I’ve already set up my foam pad and mosquito net outside in my douche. I’m all ready to settle in and get a good night’s sleep. So I go into my room after saying goodnight to my family, I turn on the light and there in the corner of my room I see it…my very first Senegalese scorpion. It’s about the length of my hand from middle finger to palm, it’s tail stinger thingy is pointed upwards ready to strike and its running all over the place. I freak out and grab a shoe, but it scrambles into the shadows.
(P.S. I’m not gonna lie. I’m pretty proud of myself for trying to kill it right away and for not running right back out of my room).

So I chase it all along the floor, around my bed, behind my trunk, and then I lose it. I cannot find it anywhere! So I call in my family. They can’t find it anywhere either. We move my bags, my bed, my shelves, my mat. It’s nowhere to be found. So they reassure me and say well, it must have gone away, just go to sleep and worry about it tomorrow. HA! Are you serious? Yeah right I’m going to sleep anywhere NEAR that thing. It is most certainly NOT gone. I know it. I mean, the damn things can’t climb walls and both of the doors were closed. There is no way it escaped.

Too embarassed to tell them that I’m afraid of sleeping until I kill it, I close my front door and get ready for bed, hoping that it will appear and that I will have the guts to take it on by myself. No such luck. So I convince myself that it is gone, and get into bed. But I had forgotten something in my room so I flip on the light and sure enough, I hear the sucker scampering about. At this point, I’m in my underwear, chacos, and headlamp, with a broom in one hand and a big heavy book in the other, climbing all over my bed and trunks and making a TON of noise moving furniture and then shreaking every time I think I see something move. I finally move my trunk and there it is! I screamed and my family came running. What a sight I must have been.

Of course the nearest teenage boy takes over and kills it with one swoop of a flimsy flip flop (I guess my 250 page health book was a bit overkill huh?). Then he holds up the corpse for all to see and they just laugh and laugh at me. Apparently, my nightmare scorpion is just an introduction into the horrors that await me. They could barely contain themselves and just asked me what I was going to do when the rains came and I started seeing the big black ones the size of my FOREARM!

Are you freaking kidding me? How do you say “first flight to America please” in Pulaar?

I think I’ll be the first Peace Corps volunteer to die of pure unbridled TERROR if I ever see a scorpion that big in my room. Truly.

It took me about 2 hours to calm down after that. I called my mom in America for some sympathy and sent out a mass text message to fellow volunteers just to make myself feel better.

Now, I’m not afraid of them because they’re ugly or because they’re bugs. I can handle bugs. Lizards-no problem. Even mice aren’t that bad. And as you all know, I’ve gotten over my fear of cockroaches. Common variety creepy crawlies just don’t bother me anymore.

But scorpions are different.

I’m afraid of scorpions because they sting and hurt like hell AND if they’re the right variety, you’re on the first ‘alham’ to Dakar for medical treatment. There is a recent horror story about one volunteer who was stung and waited 3 days to tell anyone and his arm was swollen so badly he couldn’t even move it. Great. Good thing I’m 2 days from Dakar and Peace Corps medical officers.

So much for looking forward to the rainy season. Give me 120 degree heat with wind and sand storms over a scorpion infestation ANY DAY!

Maybe Peace Corps will support a secondary “Scorpion Eradication Day” project?

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

The same thing happened to me with my first scorpion in my room in the Fouta - at least, the part where you saw it and tried to hit it and then it ran away behind the trunk and then you ran to get help. Exact same thing. In my case we (i.e. my village father) ended up finding it *under my mattress*. Yuck.