Sunday, February 2, 2014

Encountering tarantulas

Not MY tarantula, but similar

Part 5 Haiti Chronicles

 I am standing next to my bunk, fluffing my pillow in Desab, a mountainous Haitian village, when  something crawls down my upper arm.

 Then over my lower arm.  I give my arm a shake and fling a tarantula  down into my pillow.

 I'd say he was big. Maybe the size of a basketball (kidding). But big.

Adam Pitzer, my hero/protector and one of the directors of Stone By Stone, snatches up my pillow, with the doomed tarantula  clinging tightly and rushes away.  I imagine he intends to let the harmless critter go into the wilds of the Haitian bush. I don't ask. 

What a memorable encounter. 

I'd heard many stories about the tarantula (Phormictopus cancerides)  here in Desab. They don't release enough poison to kill a human, but they have long teeth, about 3/4 an inch long, and so their bite can really hurt.  Lots of people (in the US) keep them as pets because of their beautiful markings. And they live freely throughout Haiti.

My friend Paul Rumo (another Stone by Stone director) names the ones he sees here in Desab; so I name mine: Bedfellows. He's not the first one I've met on this adventure.

Little Lily lives down by the bathroom, an outhouse with a resident rat that lives down in the hole (shine your light down and you'll see him/her.) Peeping Tom lives in the dressing room (a storage room off the kitchen, which fills up with generator exhaust in the evenings). I train my headlamp on him as I dress. Emeril is already dead when we see him,  in the kitchen at the step near MY BED.

Poor Emeril. Why did he die and where was he going WHEN he died?  I don't want them killed. They live here. I am only visiting. Abend, our translator and protector, says it feels like rain, which brings the tarantulas out. So, I expect to find more.

And I do see one more. It might be Peeping Tom, because he's back in the dressing room. But he's moved closer to my world, to the wall behind which I sleep. To where Bedfellows and I made our acquaintance. And I remember that feeling, of Bedfellows crawling down my arm.

So in the course of one day, I change from pacifist to activist. DIE DIE DIE! I call for help. And Peeping Tom is swept to his death.

I feel no remorse. And I see no more tarantulas.

BTW: Paul's tarantulas  are Sharts, Jesus Freaks, Squeal and Amil (pronounced a meal). Adam and his wife, Nicole (president of Stone by Stone),  named one NBD (No Big Deal).

Part 6: Haiti Chronicles: Even without a common language, we understand each other -- finally

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