Wednesday, August 10, 2011

On the topic of spiders...

Spiders don't really bother me.  I generally leave them alone unless they are invading my space bubble (read: touching me).  Out in nature, they play their role and are good for the environment.  But once they are on my turf, it's action time, which I've said before.

I am, after all, a spider murderer. I don't require someone else to do my dirty work or a man to come save the day. I am my own hero. Plus, if I'm invading their space, I acknowledge that and sidestep out of their way.

Not much frightens me, truth be told. (Now, jumping tarantulas that can also "walk" on water due to their furriness, that's another thing...) As a result, I can very happily be found trekking through the rain forest ahead of the other tourists with no hesitation.

Spiders? Who cares. Snakes? Not a problem, we'd catch them as kids. Millipedes?  Gross, but whatever.  Piranhas? (Okay, only in the water, but still...) Bring it on*. Conga ants who's bite will hurt for weeks? Just don't touch anything.  Poisonous frogs?  Cool, can I have one?

On one night walk in the jungle, our group of international tourists came across a wolf spider. My manfriend at the time generally felt the urge to provoke these arachnids into a defensive position for "more interesting" pictures. He was out of his mind. This time, though, he knew better.

Manfriend: "Alright, folks, everyone see the wolf spider?" aiming his flashlight at a branch ahead of us.

Illuminated on a branch 6 inches above our heads and two feet in front of me, a lone wolf spider waits for his prey.
Tourists: "Oh wow." (gasping and murmuring)

Manfriend: "Be careful walking under it. Don't bother him."

Alright, I'm off.

Tourists: "oh. Uhm..." (more gasping and murmuring)

Fearless, I walk on.  Honestly, he's not going to jump on you, people.  Just walk.

The Lucys (two tourists with the same name): "I'm scared." (whimpering)

Somehow, we all manage to walk on by the spider and continue our evening walk... for about 7 more minutes.  At one point, each person turns off their flashlight and we are consumed by the black of the rain forest as the songs of the insects creep steadily toward us. It is unnerving, this absence of visual stimulation, and overwhelming perception of sound and the sudden awareness of the aroma of damp earth and fresh rain.

Night walks are a unique experience that one rarely gets to glimpse on a quick tour to Cuyabeno.
Yet the spider appears to be too much for the Lucys. Among some tears and handholding, we turn back.  10 minutes?  Shortest jungle walk ever.  (They usually last hours.) In my head I'm screaming...not only for their inability to deal with a spider, but because they apparently need to be comforted with a hug or two, from my manfriend.

*Piranhas have an eerily aggressive reputation, but won't actually attack a human (because of our size) unless blood thirsty...meaning there are too many of them in too small a space because it's the dry season - in which case, they become cannibalistic.  If those are the conditions and you are bleeding, then they might attack.

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