23 July 2012

Centipede Central

I am Hitler to ants.

Like Ender before me, I have attempted and committed acts of xenocide against the Formicidae family.  They seem to wait in-season, for warm dry spells with not much wind, before raiding my living quarters.  But when they do, they do so in calculated strikes of overwhelming numbers.  I have had to put up with (not one, not two, not even three, but) four different entry points all around the apartment since before leaving for COS.  I'm convinced that they only travel in single file, in order to hide their numbers.  But they can't run away from the fact that I have doused, wiped and disposed of thousands of their brethren over just the last couple of weeks, and continue to wipe the floor with their bony carcasses (literally).

The tangible downside to having hundreds upon hundreds of ants in your house at once is that the sudden infusion of protein invites other unwanted guests, specifically the hundred-or-so-legged variety.  The reader will recall that before now I have been stung by a centipede while laying in bed, to no great or lasting discomfort.  On the night before I was scheduled to fly to Antigua, I had another run-in with my Chilopedal nemesis, this time with no evidence save for the familiar stinging sensation localized on my upper arm.  I snapped awake, turned on the light, and collected a glass jar from the cabinet.  I then carefully searched the environs, subtly pulling back one sheet at a time, removing a pillow here, an article of clothing there, until my bed was nearly clear – no sightings of any creatures scurrying back to darkness.  What to do now?  But then, I had an epiphany, and I pulled back the mattress from against the wall, and... BINGO.  There, vertically astride the mattress edge, was the offending centipede, standing at about 5 inches long, but boasting venom claws reaching at least an inch from its body.  Unlike its predecessors, this one exhibited no sense of urgency about having its location revealed, but instead displayed a decidedly nonchalant attitude about moving.  It was as if it was saying, when it saw me,
"Heyo!  Oh, it was me you's lookin' fer, dawg?  Ohhhhhh, I was just here chillin'."
I quickly captured the scoundrel, suffering a simultaneous foot cramp in my nervous excitement, but nonetheless successfully incarcerating the villain in his newfound glass prison.  Completely bereft of my composure at this point, and also carefully monitoring the sting for possible swelling, I decided I would do better to relax for an hour, until sometime about 3:00 in the morning, before trying to once again fall asleep.

When the time arrived, and my hackles had relaxed somewhat, I was carefully walking across my bedroom floor and the bridge of my foot crossed something long and substantial.  Nerves frayed already, I jumped, only to realize I had just stepped on my shoelace.  I breathed a sigh of relief and casually moved my shoe off to the side...  And there, under the shoe, was a grand inch-and-a-half cockroach that quickly scuttled to safety as my body flung itself on the bed, suffering from a mix of harried anguish and mock amusement.  And that is the end of my funny story.

Close Of Service Conference is now over, and I am returned home to St. Kitts.  Three days, four nights of being wined and dined at Jolly Harbor in Antigua was a good break for many of us, and it was, as always, a great joy to see all of my displaced compatriots for what will amount to the last time during our Peace Corps terms of service.  The training was largely logistics for exiting PCVs: insurance offerings, travel accommodations, medical clearances, and the like.  It was, actually, a lot of hard information to take in, and I expect a review will very soon be in order.  But in the meantime, I am swamped with work, most notably preparing for the weeklong board games camp that is scheduled for next week – I'll add more about that later.

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