Growing up in New Jersey, I’d have a small coronary if I saw a spider in my room. I would stop moving, stop breathing. I would freeze thinking that if I didn’t move it wouldn’t see me. I was paralyzed by my fear of the 8-legged creature that I knew was staring at me with its 26 eyes and trying to figure out how to spin me in its web and eat me. These were ridiculous spiders. Small. Not poisonous. But unless it was a beautiful little firefly, I wasn’t interested in ANY insect.
When I came to this country, I had been sidetracked by the beach waves and J.Lo tan I was going to have that I forgot all about how BIG BUGS like to live on small islands until this happened…
As written for Women Who Live on Rocks
Prior to moving, I daydreamed about all of the fantastical adventures that would unfold in my life once I lived on a tropical island. While packing my 6 suitcases, I fantasized about all of the Pinteresty-nautical-islandy Tommy Bahama looks I would don living in a perma-vacation and how beach-wavy perfect my hair would surely be, falling into place effortlessly like a model with a constant fan blowing her way. Let’s not even talk about the sun-kissed tan state my body would always be in, of course. I snuggled with my romantic ideas of what island life would be like.
What I didn’t really consider were the animals – or, more accurately, the insects – that call this place home as well.
Months after we settled into our apartment, I spotted the Wooly Mammoth of cockroaches – legs in the air and dead – in our parking garage. Instantly, I remembered hearing that big, gross insects live on this rock. How had I never thought about that before this moment? Oh, yeah, I was too busy imagining my freaking perfect J.Lo glow and J.Crew boat shoes to remember that you’re bound to encounter problems even in the most picturesque of places. Damn it!
With my flesh crawling and a few almost-vomit-gut-reactions, I got into my friend’s car and told her what I had just seen.
“UH-HUH? That’s it? That’s all you have to say to that?”
“You live on a tropical island, Jen. Of course there are big bugs here. They’re huge.”
Apparently, she wasn’t understanding my horror.
“Was that the first one you’ve seen?” she asked, starting to feel bad about her lack of empathy.
Yes! We have some ants, but that’s it.”
“Count yourself lucky, then. And those big cockroaches? Better than having a bunch of the little ones.”
Guh. Insert vomit-gut-reaction again. The only thing worse than the thought of a huge cockroach crawling in my apartment is the thought of a bunch of little ones. Bleh.
The following year when we were moving apartments, my main worry was not if the power would go out more or if the water heater would be as good as the one we had. My main concern was the potential insects that may also live there. Our current apartment had only proved ant-friendly, and that l I could handle. Would this new apartment be the same?
Turns out that God or the Universe or whatever you believe in has wanted to keep me on this rock because as far as insects go, they’ve kept pretty far away. It is as if the Powers that Be know that me and the insects cannot co-exist, and they are doing their best to keep the Peace Treaty well and alive.
But what I certainly never imagined, in my wildest, Jungle Book dreams, was this:
What the f*ck is that? you ask? My sentiments exactly.
That is a Dominican Centipede. A straight up ancestor of fire breathing dragons. 33 little nightmares (that I could count). The Freddy Krueger of insects. The Stephen King’s “It” but bug-style. And that is how long it is without its head since the groundskeeper had to kill it by chopping its mother-effing head off. The head alone was another 3 inches long with mustache-like pincers that could bite your face off. Okay, maybe not your whole face… but lots of damage.
I got to see this prehistoric dinosaur insect after it hid in a friend’s dress during a massage and then bit her finger when she picked up said dress. She was fine, but apparently these demons can kill small animals and children. Can you imagine? Bleh. I can’t. I could never have dreamed that something like this actually exists.
But it does, which means my island world just got a heck of a lot scarier.
Guh. Insert vomit-gut-reaction.
~ UNTIL THE NEXT BOTTLE ~
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