Yes, Heebie-Jeebies Is A Technical Term.

5 11 2012

The other day, I woke to find a companion in my bed.  While most men would welcome bedside companions…my reaction was, well, let’s just say that while I love being in Belize, the paradise part is sometimes a bit lacking. Yes, insects are just a part of the grand circle of life here. I even have a friend who calls bugs in the house “friends.” But sometimes that Circle becomes a bit of a pain in the tush, or in my case, the hamstring.

I was alone at a “resort.” A friend owns it and needed someone to keep the island location company for 5 days. I volunteered. I had the whole island to myself. I was alone and loving it. I splurged and decided to move into the waterbed room. It was nice. It was still rustic camping, but the water in the bed had a way of sucking the heat out of your body from the hot day. It was brilliant.

The water bed had 2 blankets working as mattress pads. I removed one because it was moldy (mold’s kinda part of the deal here. I will blog on that later). As I lay there after about 30 minutes of sleep, I felt something poking through the blanket into my back side. I drowsily rose and got my flashlight. I pulled the sheets to discover this ugly centipede staring back at me.

Centipede

Centipede

I got the serious heebie-jeebies. I had nothing grab him with. I sure wasn’t going to grab him with my bare hands! Leather gloves were across the compound. So I got a fork (and knife for good measure). After 30 seconds of prodding and pulling, he unraveled from the blankets. Thankfully, he was dead. He had been dead for some time. He was about 4-5 inches long and full of creepy crawly legs. His broken antennae were what was poking me through the sheets.

Needless to say, I moved rooms.

But that was not my worst insect experience. Do you remember the short story from high school, “Leiningen Versus The Ants”?

The other night after leaving the island, I was staying in a room which had an abnormal quantity of “friends” of all sizes cruising around the room like cars on California Interstate. These friends kept crawling out of the bathroom door handle. I did what any sensible male would do at the time. I took insect spray (that is banned in the U.S.A) and sprayed it into the door handle.

Apparently, I horked them off.

At first, all I saw were 3 ants appear from the door handle, drop, and role like little mini-ant-paratroopers. They were drunk with bug spray and spazzed around at the base of the door with all sorts of funky 6 legged limbo dancing. I continued to brushed my teeth and didn’t think much of it. After a few minutes, I glanced of the floor and saw 20-25 new ants joining the nerve gas limbo dance. They were moving around like zombies, looking for a place to escape the smell of FISH Bug Spray.

I was barefoot at the time, and wearing nothing but underwear. As well, the owners and everyone else I knew there were asleep. Can you say, “Alone and vulnerable?” I knew you could.

I got my big fat Chaco sandal and started splatting them on the floor. Splat! Splat! Splat. Every 10-15 seconds another 2-3 ants would drop from the door handle. Apparently, I had sprayed the nest and some big boss ant inside had sounded the mass exodus bell. It was like folks fleeting from a burning building. 30 minutes later, I had killed no less than 125 ants. I splatted so many my sandal was getting heavy. Blood spatters covered the floor. I kept using toilet paper to clean them up because I was running out of room to place my bare feet.

I thought, This can’t go on all night. I need to sleep. I decided to unhinge the door and put it outside. I sprayed the handle one more time so that when I was away, if any escaped my killing, they would be dosed with death and not go hide in places like my bed.

I went to my luggage and found my Leatherman. I tried to disconnect the door to no avail. I happened to have the keys to the office. I went down and rummaged for tools. I found a screwdriver and a crescent wrench. The latter was useless as a wrench but I thought it might work as a hammer in a pinch.

I was wrong. I got only one of two pins out.

I went back down for a 2nd look at the office and found a metal punch. I came back to a room filled with ants everywhere. I stopped, and killed them all. Add another 75 to the tally. Total: > 200.

I tried using the punch to push out the top door pin. I used the crescent wrench as a hammer to no avail, first because it’s a wrench and second because it was midnight. Folks around here go to bed at 8-9 PM. I didn’t want to pound real hard and wake anyone up. Besides the pin wasn’t budging. All of this failed and ants were still parachuting out of the door handle, rolling on the ground and doing the funky limbo dance.

I did notice the ant onslaught appeared to have slowed down. It looked like maybe 2-3 ants a minute now. And they were drunk with bug poison and not really going far. A lot of ants I hadn’t splatted lay dead on the floor. I decided to run my risks and go to bed. I killed and cleaned up all I could. I lifted any part of my dragging blankets and sheets off the floor and crawled into bed.

About 5 minutes later, I turned on the lights to get something. At that moment, I noticed 3 large ants (3/4’s of an inch long) crawling over my blankets towards my head. More were crawling up the bed. I glanced at the walls. More ants. I put something together. I sprayed the U.S. banned bug ant killer on the floor next to the door, in the hallway leading to the kitchen, and along some walls. In retrospect, one of the only paths of escape was (you guessed it) my bed and the walls around it. Apparently, driven to find fresh air, the ants were invading my sleeping space. This was unacceptable.

I knocked on Gale’s door. “Hi, Gale. Sorry to bug you. I need your help. I need a hammer to remove a door.”

“Hammer and door?” he said in his mumbled sleep.

“Yes. I’ve killed at least 200 ants. They keep dropping out of the door handle going.”

He brought a large hammer. With 5 deft smacks that would register on the seismographs in Honduras, the remaining pin was free. I took the door and placed it on the balcony outside.

I walked back in and thanked him. I showed him the pile of ants on the floor. He said, “I can’t believe that many came out of the door handle.”

“I never dreamed. Apparently, they were living in the door and I made them mad.” He went back to his room. I commenced to cleaning up the blood and bodies of evidence. In total, I cleaned another 30 ants in the cleanup.  230 total ants dead, by my count.

About 1:30 AM, I finally lay in bed. I was exhausted, hot and needing a 3rd shower that day. I reflected on how the people around were nice and the jungle was pretty in its own way. But I said to myself, I really need to leave this place and go find another island for me and my retreat.

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One response

19 11 2012
Kevin Richter

Ho, Ben, such the adventures! I was reading and thinking to myself, “what’s 20-50 ants?” or even more until I got to the 3/4″ long part. I’m used to seeing swarms and digging nests up here in Colorado where I’ll see what’s likely 800 to 2000 ants easily…but they’re the ones 1/4″ or smaller. Size of ant makes a big difference when relating to quantity and the amount of “splat” left behind after smashing!

Thanks for the updates. Praying for you, especially today!

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