Nope. This isn’t a lurid account of my sex life, sorry if that’s why you’re here. It is truly about animal encounters in my bedroom. Over the years I have lived in, and travelled around, sixty plus countries and have been, um, lucky enough to share my bed with….
A Scorpion or three
I live in Mérida, Mexico (you can read about why here) and here we are lucky enough to have scorpions that sometimes making their way in to our houses. I was actually prompted to write this article after almost stepping on a scorpion, barefoot, in my bedroom, last weekend.
It was dark. I was coming out of the bathroom when something small and icky scuttled away from me. Thankfully it isn’t our first brush with scorpions so I immediately knew what it was and how to deal with it: yup, I yelled out for my husband to come and deal with it. Not my proudest moment as a strong feminist but it is definitely the best way I have found for getting rid of scorpions quickly!
While I didn’t exactly stand on a chair and hold my skirts, I certainly wasn’t the hero in this story. We all had a quick look at the beasty, the kids were instructed to get on the bed and I went to the kitchen to find a killing or removing implement whilst my husband remained on guard duty. All I could find was a heavy duty spade … so we killed the fucker.
Of the previous two, the first was captured after my husband almost trod on it in the dark. He released it in the square across the road from our house. The second, I accidentally squashed when I dropped a bucket on it. No tears were shed.
In the Peruvian jungle aged 18 I was camping by a lake with school friends. In the morning we realised we’d pitched our tent over a tarantula who had been sitting patiently for us to move so s/he could get on with the day. We were a bit freaked out that one of us probably slept on top of the thing without realising.
In Tulum, Mexico, we also had a tarantula in the house, but I can’t say for sure that it was even in my bed or bedroom. It probably was.
I worked in Rwanda for a few years and had a number of interesting bedmates there. The first was a hairy caterpillar. These little critters look so cute that I always want to stroke them. In fact, the first time I ever saw one I did try to stroke it. Luckily a kid stopped me and explained why I should never touch these things. Basically every single spine has poison in it and if you touch a caterpillar it leaves its spine in you, injecting the poison in to you. To remove the spines you need to use tweezers and remove them one at a time. If you touch a spine with too much force you risk spreading the poison further. Fun, right?
So I woke up one morning, in Kayonza, Rwanda, with one of these little fellas on the inside of my mosquito net. Yes. The inside, so I can only assume it had been there all night watching me sleep. It got me on a finger as I tried to remove it. No scar there but the second hairy caterpillar with which I had an encounter, left a nice scar on my left elbow.
An Unnamed Black Snake
We’re still in Rwanda. For this adventure, my friend Steve was visiting. I went to bed about five minutes before him. As I opened the door to my bedroom, a black snake left my bed and slithered past me and out of the door. I never found out what it was but I’m still a bit freaked out that it was there, almost 15 years later.
After this event I started leaving my bed with the mosquito net tucked in rather than tied back.
This might not sound scary, in fact, it wasn’t scary at all but it’s still the only few times I’ve ever had to decamp for the night due to insects in my room. For some reason my bedroom was on an ant trail and about twice a year I’d wake up to see my walls and ceiling thick with ants travelling on their way somewhere. I’d wake up to this because some would always fall and they were small enough to slip between the mosquito net holes. So basically I woke up to ant rain. I don’t have any photos of this but it was truly horrible. My flatmate and I would have to take our mattresses and sleep on kitchen floor in our neighbours’ house.
Actually, this one was a hallucination. I had malaria and was in bed for a week having taken my very strong drugs. At one point I was convinced there were goats coming through my bedroom wall. That was weird.
Travelling in The Philippines, my friend Richard and I learned a valuable lesson: when it comes to hostels, sometimes cheap isn’t best. We found a super cheap room in a hostel in Manila but then spent the entire night standing on the bed holding cans of cockroach spray in a room full of the little fuckers. It was truly horrific. Never again have I had such an awful night.
Back to Rwanda for fleas. I still have no idea where I got them but it took me ages to get rid of them. Every single evening I’d put all my clothes and shoes in a bucket of bleach, wash and get in to bed. Every single morning I’d find a bucket full of dead fleas but still they persisted. It took me washing my bedding in this way and leaving my mattress out in the sun to kill off remaining fleas to get rid of them. Oh, the itching.
I’m not the only one with stories like this, obviously. My husband also has his own bed share tales to tell: he shared a bed with a hunting spider in Zimbabwe, accidentally ate a moth at supper in Peru and even found an enormous praying mantis watching him when he woke up in the middle of the night whilst on a riding safari in Zimbabwe. And his brother woke up with a cockroach on his face in Rwanda. Yay him!
What about you? Any disgusting bed fellows worth a mention?