I had roommates while in the Galapagos Islands and it wasn’t the kind you want to have.  It was a variety of ants, beetles, roaches and geckos.  Ants, attracted to the light, walked across my computer screen – and me --  on a daily basis.  Geckos ran across the walls and floors, leaving little souvenirs wherever they went.  After living with gigantic cockroaches in Africa, none of this really bothered me.  However, sharing the shower was a different matter.  Every time I showered, I did a fancy little two-step to avoid the cockroach or beetle that shared the stall.  No matter how hard I tried, there were moments when one of those dancing critters stepped on my dancing feet – or at least walked across them.  I’d never get use to that kind of sharing.

Unless they bite or sting, I don’t get too bent out of shape about bugs.  But, there are exceptions to that rule.  I already mentioned that showers were one of those exceptions.  There were more.  I discovered another exception when I woke up with a beetle running across my face.  There are some things in life that I just can’t ever get used to.  I’ve seen poor children in Africa with flies around their eyes and mouths.  I didn’t like it then and I liked it even less when it happened to me.  There was no forgiveness for it either.  I flung the sheets off the bed (with the beetle included).  And, then, I went looking for a shoe.  Problem was soon resolved and splattered. 

Much to my delight, there was no longer a beetle in my shower. 

Finished with creepy crawlers yet?  I wish.  Anything that goes pinch in the night, or any other time for that matter, is not a good thing.  There are few solutions for comfort without air conditioning when faced with blistering heat along the equator.  Mine was to sit on my bed, with the fan pointed directly at me.  So, there I sat, innocently minding my own business, as I worked on my lap top, when something pinched my backside.

I don’t know how I managed not to toss my computer on the floor!  I jumped up, examined the area around my bed, and found nothing.  Now, I know when I’m pinched and I was pinched!  But, there was no evidence.  No mark on me (fortunately) and no beast of any significant size in my room.  (Insignificant beasts like ants, geckos, and roaches were always there, but I didn’t think any of them pinched.  I could be wrong.)

I never did find the pincher.  Life returned to normal.  There were enough mosquitoes (not in my room, thankfully) to worry about.  But, the butt pincher was still out there.  I had no doubt.

AND IT STRUCK (or pinched) AGAIN!

This time, I at least was able to get a look at the critter.  It was a centipede, and not a normal little centipede!  This tropical monster was six inches long!  I didn’t know if it was poisonous (it was) so I proceeded as quickly as possible to carefully kill the sucker (or pincher).  Yes, this was the Galapagos Islands and you’re not supposed to touch (or splatter) indigenous wildlife.  But, (butt?) this was war!  And, I failed.  It somehow slithered and wriggled away.  It must be out there lurking in some dark corner, waiting for another opportunity. 

Finding out what was pinching, I did some research.  My enemy was only a baby.  They can grow to almost a foot.  The pinch from those claws is indeed poisonous.  It’s how they hunt their prey and it is supposed to be very painful for humans.  Centipedes, in turn, are hunted by the Galápagos hawk, night herons, some mockingbirds and now me.

Copyright 2011 and 2012 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.