Saturday, September 22, 2012

Forever Twenty-Nine, The Spider Hunter

            In many ways I am like my father: bony, monkey-toed, dorky.  I looked like a freckled pale Gumby as a kid and… oh, wait! I still do.  But I’m pretty sure that’s a Gray gene I also share with my old man.  Last Saturday, our similarities caused a minor panic attack for me, though.
            Despite my apparent inability to regulate my body’s temperature—or even effectively breathe for that matter—in Grenada’s humidity and heat, I opted for the running trail on Hash #745 last Saturday.  Though initially fooled by the easy, even trail/paved road, I was brought to my senses when hash-reality collided with me in the form of a 60-degree one-thousand-foot incline.  (Insert expletive.)  My saving grace during the gasping, single file march (actually, more like a crawl because you’d better believe I was using all resources at my disposal to lurch forward, including extra limbs), was Elly, the cute little dog brought along by a couple friends.  When Elly needed to stop for a drink, we all got to stop for a drink!  Ah what a break will do when you’re on the brink of heat stroke and watering the jungle with your sweat!
Taken from the middle of our ascent

            About three quarters of the way up our mountain path, I obliviously stumbled into the territory of a peeved bee colony.  As I huffed and puffed along, I felt a nasty stinging on my elbow and looked down to find a bee curled up against my shiny skin.  The stinging got worse and worse.  (Insert string of expletives.)  I flicked at the bee, trying to dislodge it, while Ivan urged me to keep moving (we were apparently surrounded by bees at that point).  The bee came loose and I flung myself forward, determined to catch up with our hashing group.  But the stinging was still getting worse.  I looked down and there, protruding from the point of my elbow, was the bee’s stinger.
            Though Ivan had successfully removed the stinger, as I trudged on, I couldn’t help but think how fast my heart was beating and the small chance that, since my last sting decades ago, I may have very well developed an allergy to bee stings.  I certainly wasn’t carrying an EpiPen.  Heck! I don’t even own an EpiPen!  I was at least a mile (a very steep mile) away from the nearest road.  And I was in the jungle!  All I could envision was Dad’s swollen arm and that menacing red streak running from his wrist to his chest last summer after a single bee sting.
            With every footfall, I chanted to myself, Don’t be allergic.  Don’t be allergic.  Don’t be allergic.
            Good news!  My chanting worked.  I’m not allergic to bees.
The evening sky after our hash

            Tuesday marked a milestone for me.  I officially celebrated, for the first time, the last birthday I’ll celebrate for the rest of my life.  Because, from now on, I’ll just be turning twenty-nine again and again, right?  I’ve begun the perpetual non-motion of aging for the second two-thirds of my life.
            Here’s how the last birthday of the rest of my life went:
            The campus had a hiccup, resulting in no water and flickering electricity.  Speaking of hiccups, I had drained my water bottle the night before when I couldn’t sleep due to an obnoxious bout of hiccups, so I only had milk or Tang to drink (not exactly the thirst-quencher I had in mind when lining up my morning exercise routine).
            Thankfully, I got some water from a neighbor and, by the time my workout was done, the water was back on, so I got to take a shower!  Hooray!  Although, the flickering electricity resulted in a day without A/C, so we opened the apartment up and enjoyed a relaxing cross-breeze.
            I spent most of the day painting which, combined with the soothing wind, about left me in a relaxation coma.  For dinner we went to Umbrellas restaurant on the Grand Anse beach, where we both had burgers and enjoyed the sunset.  My sandal broke, so Ivan had to carry me back up to our dorm after dinner.  I slipped on another pair of sandals and we visited with our neighbors for a while to enjoy birthday cake.
My project
Finished--A hug for Beasley!
Grand Anse beach, before dinner
Mmm... piggy cake!

            Thursday evening, Ivan and I joined a big group of SOs (and a few other students) in another visit to the Fort Bar.  Live music was provided the whole night by Island Blue, which was unexpected, but nice.  We made the rounds through the fort’s crumbling structure and I snapped lots of evening photos, forgoing the flash to capture the orange glow in the evening sky.  When we decided to revisit the bar, I was determined to find more of the ominous tailless whip scorpions to photograph with my “big camera.”  We zeroed in on the hole they’d haunted during our last trip and found the smaller of the two still there.  I tried getting a couple shots, but the non-spider was a little farther into its hole than I’d hoped.  Ivan reached in with his water bottle, intending to scoot the bug out of its hiding place.  He cast a shadow too soon, though, and ended up sending the spindly legged monster scrambling even deeper.

            Flashlights at the ready, we moved on, pausing at every nook and corner, searching for scurrying shadows and the telltale signs of more fort spiders.  Here and there we successfully found little tailless whip scorpions, flattened against the craggy walls and arched ceilings.  Millipedes galore slipped in and out of cracks in the stone and curled on the paths, crunching beneath our feet.  We even found a cute little gecko, randomly plodding along the walls of the tunnels.

            Ever present, this need to photo-journalize my fort adventure sent me scouting forward while a larger chunk of the group stopped to socialize.  Ivan and I climbed a set of brick steps, to a dark doorway we hadn’t investigated last visit.  At the landing, Ivan cast his light ahead and we stood before a transparent screen of incandescent webbing, rising, endlessly into the smoky night sky.  Spiders.  Striped, glossy black and toxic yellow.  Sharp legs, stretched forward and behind, vibrating like some grotesque dance.  Milky droplets of shriveled insects dripping from knotted corners of webbing.  Spiders and their shadows, like echoes, trembling against the walls and suspended, surrounding us, for an eternity in every direction.
The brick stairs that lead to the wall o' spiders

            It was like I had just stumbled on a wall of human skulls and, for a moment, just let my eyes wander up and into the blackness that finally ended it.  I know I’m being overly dramatic but, unless you’re Indiana Jones (or Aragorn), you’re never actually going to come across a wall of skulls; so, to emphasize my disgusting point, the metaphor is allowed.
Grenada night sky--into which walls of spiders disappear

            After stomaching a few mouthfuls of that brackish pre-vomit saliva, I got right down to picture-taking.  What we have here is some sort of Golden Silk Orb-Weaver Spider.  Species can be found all over the world, predominantly in warmer climates.  The orb-weaver is known for its telltale zigzag web pattern.  Also… they are creepy.  I mean, really really creepy.

1 comment:

  1. Good thing you're not allergic to bees or spiders!