on travel, thoughts, and the art of short fiction

Surprise Spider Attack

In Mozambique on April 1, 2008 at 4:42 am

I am sitting in the teacher’s office with a pulsating headache. My headache has many levels and came into existence in a very unique yet acute way.

Reason one for early morning headache: the teachers are screaming and arguing with each other yet again. It is all they do. Every thirty minutes or so a loud, long screaming match erupts. I just can’t understand it. This is supposed to be a “professional” environment- if they only knew. I don’t know why the directors don’t do something about this, they hear the teachers arguing through the walls, their shouts and screams echo all around and make their way into the classrooms, it’s so pitiful.
Today a pair actually exchanged a few shoves. And I sit at my desk, shooting disgusted looks in their direction, typing away, reminding myself over and over why exactly it is that I am here.

Reason two for early morning headache: a spider tried to murder me last night. Last night after my English class, I came home, went into my room and immediately noticed something out of place. There was a black furry rug along the wall where it met the floor. No wait! It wasn’t a rug, silly me, it was a spider, the size of a small dog hanging out in my room. I felt my eyes widen in horror, I covered my mouth so that I wouldn’t scream, my entire body began to shake. This was literally the largest spider I had ever seen. This includes large scary spiders behind glass at the zoo. Naively, I ran into the kitchen to grab my can of Baygonne which works on spiders the size of my hand and smaller (silly, silly, me). When I sprayed this creature, I only made it angry, very angry. Spiders here come with the strangest feature. They lay flat, in what I assume is a resting position, but when they are roused, they literally inflate and double in size and girth. Now I was staring at a full fledged enormous tarantula. ENORMOUS! It ran and scurried, I sprayed at it again and it hid behind my night stand.

I ran into the kitchen and just stood there with my mouth open for a good ten minutes. I think I was actually in shock. I was out of my league. I had no idea what to do. I was all alone in this bug infested house in this country where I don’t fully speak the language. Creatures like this don’t just pass by, they enter and take over a space. It was so big and so fast. Baygonne just wasn’t going to work. It was like trying to kill a pet cat with Raid. Think Sojourner…think, think, think….. I paced the floor in the kitchen.

The spider, as a way of giving me the finger I’m sure, began to crawl along my door frame peering out at me. It was soooooo big. I couldn’t believe what I was dealing with. I gave in. I heard a television somewhere in the distance. I crept next door to see if I could find my neighbor Belleview, but of course when I’m looking for him, I can’t find him, when I don’t want him around he’s everywhere. I did find two servants that work for the family though. In my broken Portuguese, I explained that I needed help because there was a large spider in my room that needed to be killed. One of the men followed me. I handed him a broom and he entered my room. He couldn’t find it. After summoning up my courage, I entered the room with him and I couldn’t see it either. How could I not see a small dog in a sparsely furnished room?  Then, the servant, a man, a Mozambican man, actually screamed. You know it’s bad when a local person who is used to all sorts of creepy crawly disgusting creatures screams in shock. This thing was sooooo big!

The spider was backed into a corner. He fought with it using the broom. I’m in the kitchen at this point, all he needed to do was scream and jump back and that did it for me. They battled for a good five minutes before he emerged sheepishly. “Is it dead?” I asked. “No” he said reluctantly. “Where is it?” I said “I don’t know?” he stammered. How could he not know? What was going on? Who was this super spider? He was such a sweet man, he could tell I was distressed and was trying to be nice. He brought me in the room and we checked every corner and crevice and just like that, the spider was nowhere to be seen.

I grabbed my mosquito net tent and evacuated. I would never be able to look at my room in the same way. I didn’t trust that the spider was gone, I knew it was in there hiding, waiting to catch me alone and defenseless.

I thanked the man who happily went back to his room to finish watching his novella. I set up camp in our pantry/turned spare bedroom. It was the most fitful and uncomfortable sleep that I have had yet. I was shaking for an hour afterwards.

This morning, I woke at 5:00 because I had to work on my agriculture project and present a lecture to the students about composting. I got up, climbed out of my mosquito netting and made my way towards my room. I froze, the events were too raw. I couldn’t convince my feet to bring me inside. I took the tablecloth off of the table, wrapped it around myself, grabbed my lecture and my bag and took off.

When I returned around 6:30, it was completely light out. I would need to get into my room because all of my shower materials and clothes were in there.  I couldn’t walk around all day wrapped in a gingham tablecloth. It took me fifteen minutes to convince my legs to enter my room. Another ten to gather my items one by one. I didn’t see the spider, but I didn’t feel safe either.

I don’t know how much of this I can take. Tracy isn’t back yet, she is taking an extra long investigation period- why?!?. Between the bugs and the teachers that I am forced to share a space with, mentally I am through.

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