Saturday, August 27, 2011

Bugs, crabs and bats .... I prefer to be underwater!

"I don't like spiders and snakes, but that ain't what it takes to love me.."  Jim Stafford lyrics

Tom's Take:    My family isn’t real big on bugs, spiders or any kind of crawly thing.  But when you go to the tropics that’s exactly what you get.  Except these critters are on steroids.  When we checked into our island house, my job was to be the first one in our bedroom to “check” for any of these wild creatures.  An  island house on Roatan is not quite what we are used to in the States. They are very nice, but usually a little more rustic and a little less, shall we say, bug proof.  After deciding who was assigned which bedrooms, I was given the instructions to “check” the room.  “Check” is translated, "seek out and destroy anything that might make me scream".  In Colorado, I am known to be very brave and efficient at this task.  There isn’t a grasshopper, moth, spider or bee that hasn't felt my wrath.  My wife and daughters have been well protected.
I checked the room out and all looked safe to me but I soon discovered --  night time is when they come out to party.  Our first night turned out to be interesting.  We were basically in a jungle on the edge of the Caribbean ocean.  All the sounds of a jungle can really enhance your dreams, provided you can get to sleep.  There were almond trees over the top of our tin roof dropping almonds all night long - "THUNK, THUNK, THUNK".  Fruit bats the size of small eagles landed on the walls and eves of our island house, squeaking and fluttering as they chased insects.  All this noise, coupled with the urge to get up to use the bathroom from the several Saliva Vida’s (local Beer), kept you from what should have been a peaceful nights sleep in paradise.  I can get used to the sounds, but my wife can hear a caterpillar peeing on a marshmallow three blocks away, and if Sandy can’t sleep Tom won’t get to sleep.  I was periodically awakened by her asking “did you hear that”?  I was asleep, what do you think the answer was?
We went out to dinner most nights and would come back after dark, which was another experience in and of itself.  Crabs come out at night for their own type of party and believe me, they are everywhere! It is very dark at night (no streetlights here) and our house was on stilts because of its proximity to the beach, requiring climbing a flight of stairs to get to the rooms.  There were often so many crabs partying on the beach that it looked like the ground was moving and it was difficult to cross from the car door to the stairs.   My job was to blaze a trail to the steps.  In other words, clear a path and chase away the crabs so the rest of the gang could dash to the stairs and not land on a crab in the process!  Some of those crabs had an attitude. They would square up with you on their hind legs with their claws out -- If I had been packing they wouldn’t have been so tough!  I'll admit - a few of them were quite intimidating and I found myself giving them an extra wide berth.
Eventually we would get up the stairs and after all the laughter and commotion, we would settle down to relax and watch Gecko TV (translated:  watch Geckos eat bugs around the porch light).  This was great entertainment - if you haven't tried it, I suggest you give it a whirl next time you're in the tropics!  I remember one particular evening.  We headed into our rooms to get ready for bed and Sandy went into the bathroom before I had the chance to "check" it out.  Turns out, there was a cockroach in our shower that you could have put a saddle on.  After the mild heart attack I suffered from Sandy’s "quiet and calm" discovery of this lovely insect,  I went into the shower to take care of this critter.  Sandy’s discovery of this guy also alerted Jim and Jan's daughter, Beth.  Let me just say it -- this girl is the bravest woman I know.  She came into our room and offered to take this bug OUT.  My back had been bothering me (well, kind of, but okay -- not really. That bug was BIG), so I accepted her assistance.  She had a butter knife in hand and came into the bathroom with me.  I warned her this was no ordinary cockroach, but she wasn’t afraid. She pulled back the shower curtain and just like in the Hitchcock movie Psycho she went after this cockroach with her butter knife.  Eeeee Eeee Eeee.  She kind of scared me. But the bathroom was safe, and it was comforting to know she was nearby if necessary. 
On this particular trip we had more fun and more unusual experiences but we created some of the best memories we'll ever have.  I wouldn’t have changed a thing.   Except I would have done more diving.  But that is true for all our trips.

Travel Tip:  Pack Bounce dryer sheets in your suitcase and slide them into your bed at night.  Bugs are detracted by their smell and will stay clear of them!

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