Wednesday, March 14, 2012

hive consolidation [gri-NEY-duhz buhg PROB-luhm] noun…

…1. unification of 138.2 square miles of insect colonies: The hive consolidation was confirmed to have taken place in or near my place of residence.
2. an act of merging and strengthening all populations of insects on one tropical island: The hive consolidation resulted in random swarming patterns and increased incidents of infestation.
3. cruel and unusual torture: Documented cases of hive consolidation have proven its long-term negative psychological effects.

I haven’t really discussed our mosquito situation lately.  That’s because the mosquitoes laid off for a heavenly span of three weeks.  For that time, I was tempted to suggest that we’d acquired an unlikely tolerance to them, or that we’d stopped smelling like foreigners—our expelled carbon dioxide suddenly adapting a hint of the Caribbean—so the stringy little vampires had withdrawn their forces.
I was mistaken.  That their promiscuity relies on moisture should have warned me of their imminent approach after our recent bouts of wetness.  But, being that I enjoyed the notion of insect-repelling personal evolution far too much, I was in no way prepared for the waves of blood-letting that have recently befallen us.
On Sunday alone, Ivan killed 25 mosquitoes in our apartment. I killed 18, bringing our slaughter-fest to a grand total of 43—not even half as many as we had hoped to kill, less than one-third of how many we had attempted to kill, and about one one-billionth of how many are left to kill.  I lose my sense of progress and accomplishment daily.

I don’t know that I’ve given much consideration to the plethora of other bugs in my blog.  But it’s about time I did.
I’m from Erie, Pennsylvania, where subzero snow-globe winters prevent mass infestations of mutant insects from burrowing into every surface of your home (including concrete).  I’m not saying I’ve never had nuisance insects in my home, but… not in such quantities.  The bugs at home didn’t exactly stand in line, waiting for their number to be called before crossing the threshold, but they were not persistent.  My bug experience extends to buying taro (ant poison) once and bagging all of my pasta to avoid moths, also once.
My history isn’t really an excuse for my unbridled shock and disgust here; I could have done some simple research to unveil the not-so-secret secrets of Grenada.  It’s a tropical island.  Its first and last inhabitants were and will be insects.
But I was still unprepared (story of my life).  First came the mosquitoes.  They flock to us like they’ve found the elusive cornucopia of fluid nourishment. 
Then came the millipedes.  The millipedes don’t bother me.  They are harmless, slow, and don’t make a wuzzoo sound as they drone past your ear, sated on your blood.  They do crunch under your bare and unsuspecting feet, however, when you stumble blindly to the bathroom in the middle of the night. 
Then came the ants and also the other ants.  The ants have not entered our home, but are still impossible not to encounter.  Step in their nest and your sandaled foot is on fire as thousands of them cleave to your skin.  Since ant nests are synonymous with ground in Grenada, rest assured that you will not avoid the fire-foot experience. 
Then came the other ants.  (I am not positive of the species.  They may be pharaoh ants.)  Tiny and translucent, they drill through the grout of our counter tiles, gushing out in legions and falling on microscopic traces of oatmeal in waves.  Initially I fought their waves with generous rivers of bleach and frenetic cleanliness.  Then, fed up with their imperviousness, I bought ant poison.  In a final gesture of malice, they withheld from me my vengeance, disappearing from my kitchen rather than choke on my cheap poison.
Then came the spider (yes, just the one).  I was rudely awakened one night to a violent clapping sound.  In the flickering light of The Colbert Report, I saw Ivan holding up my sandal like a trophy and realized he’d just used it to kill something.  He described a spider that was smaller than a tarantula, but thick like one and also shiny.  In my house, if a spider is described as tarantula-esque and shiny, it had better also be dead.  I stopped going barefoot in the apartment after that.
Then came the produce invaders.  Nothing turns my stomach quite like cutting into apparently fresh and ripe vegetables and finding them impregnated with spidery insects, their wiggling maggoty spawn and tunnels of sticky white cocoons.  (My arms have goose-bumps, just talking about it.)
Then, just as I think, No more, no more, the ultimate fear-monger of the insect world presents itself:
Then came the cockroach.  My experience (singular) with cockroaches is as uninterested spectator to the hissing variety which inhabits an exhibit at the Erie Zoo.  (What a horrid thing to display at a zoo, as if it has as much right to exist as any other creature.)  Cockroach.  Even the word is vulgar and, even though I’m not sure which of its two halves is the root word, both would I use to insult a truly despicable person (ahem, such as Rush Limbaugh).  Thankfully, Ivan’s dad lives in Texas, so my husband has experience dealing with heat- and humidity-loving pests such as scorpions and cockroaches.  I do, however, firmly believe that my reaction was normal, acceptable and justifiable.
My first experience with cockroaches in the wild (it pains me that my apartment is the “wild” in this circumstance) played out as such: I was up shortly after six, per usual, while Ivan stayed in bed to get a few extra minutes of sleep while I got breakfast together.  I was studying a curious cluster of dark spots on our counter, like little droplets of tar, lightly smeared.  Out of the sink basin shot a brown streak of insectile horror.  My gasp and shriek woke Ivan instantly and I heard him cry out, “I’m coming!”  He stumbled into the kitchen, blinking out crumbs of sleep and squinting in the overhead light, ready to defend me in nothing but his underwear.  I had retreated against the bar, shrinking away from the disgusting roach that I couldn’t seem to peel my eyes from.  “Cockroach,” I said, my stomach collapsing, gorge bucking and bile frothing dangerously in the back of my throat.  (I have an issue with bugs.)  As Ivan came to my rescue, like a scantily clad yet heroic exterminator (brown chicken brown cow?*), bashing at the vanishing and reappearing assailant, a second cockroach darted out from under the dish rack and flipped around the lip of the counter, defying gravity as all terrible insects must do.  In one daring swipe, Ivan injured the first roach and began bashing towards the second.  Evasively maneuvering Ivan’s blows, it fell to the floor and shot across the tile.  My normal, acceptable and justifiable reaction was to leap onto the bar, balance on my toes and curl up into a ball with my arms wrapped around my legs, holding back an epic scream that would have brought the neighbors’ neighbors to my rescue.  Then Ivan’s blunt weapon (the soap container) made gratifying contact.  (Let it be known that if Ivan was not home, I would have spent the whole day on top of the bar, tightening in my little ball and hoping to disappear into oblivion.)  We didn’t put their apparently dead bodies in the garbage; we flushed them down the toilet, because anything that can survive a nuclear holocaust should be removed from my presence at least at the speed of a flushed turd.
Though I willingly stepped down off of the bar, it was still some time before I stopped lobbing obscenities at the island and quit my stream of “I am so done with this place.”
Around the same time, we came to a totally unrelated decision to go home for the summer break.  On Monday, May 21 at 9:00 am, we will officially be on our way home.  (Surprise, to anyone who didn’t know yet.)
To all who are thoroughly disgusted by this post, I am sorry, but I am thoroughly disgusted too.  Perhaps some pictures and videos of children will make amends?
At Queen Elizabeth this week the children got to play with bubbles:
Playing nice

Playing not-so nice

From atop the jungle gym

At Limes, the children had fun dancing, especially Jivvy, who could barely contain herself.

Kyla was looking especially cute in a pretty-in-pink dress that she was loathe to model, hence my collection of “snipit” photos.

The kids also played towel races.  The two videos below show a successful race, then one in which poor Kyla is toppled forward when the towel is pulled out from under her.  For anyone concerned, she cried for a bit, but was just fine later.
Following her immediate recovery, Kyla snapped a few shots with my camera, then was kind enough to give it back so I could get a few more also.
Stray pregnant cat

Trying to do the Macarena

So sweet, they'll give you cavities.

Photo courtesy of Kyla

*This reference may not be accessible to everyone.  That’s ok.

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