Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Jessi's Fear Factor

Fear is an interesting thing. There's a lot things that don't scare me. Snakes, for example. I killed my first snake the other day in the orphanage yard. I didn't hesitate. I wasn't breathing hard or trembling. I just picked up a rock and walked over to where the orphanage worker was standing, (she was paralyzed with fear), and smashed its head. They think it was a "puff adder" which is a highly poisonous snake that isn't very fast. Now, would I be thrilled about a cobra in my bedroom? Absolutely not. Would I scream if a viper slithered across my feet? Absolutely yes. But my biggest battle has been against all of the crawly and flying creatures that seem to be everywhere.
I've been forced to face my fear here. I can't believe how stoic I've become about things I used to scream about 5 months ago. For example, I was getting something out of the cupboard, and I saw a mouse move right by my hand. I jumped back and gasped, and then rebuked myself for being such a was just a mouse! At home, I would've given myself permission to call the exterminator and spend the night somewhere else! Frogs, mice, lizards, large millipeds, huge wasps, and beetles are just a normal catch/kill or catch/release experience around here. My first week here, the sight of a normal honeybee on my bed pillow forced me to tears. I now chase around huge wasps with a broom to smash them before they escape! My 2nd scorpion kill was met with nothing other than, "Jacob, look, another scorpion...SMASH."
I'm not regaling you with these tales to impress you or make you feel silly for screaming about a cockroach. Rather, I'm saying that I am still afraid of the same things that I was afraid of when I got here. I still gasp when a grasshopper lands on my head or a wasp flies up my skirt. It's just that I've had no choice but to face my fear instead of run away. Jake's not always around when there's something to kill. And sometimes that thing is putting other people in danger. So I've got to take care of it. Also, women here don't scream nearly as much. They just walk over to the offending creature and smash it with their fingertips or barefeet (something I have yet to attempt) I wonder if I'll revert back to my old "wuss-dom" when I come back to the States.
Don't get me wrong, I have my methods. Many of them. That's how I can tell that I'm still just as afraid of bugs as when I came. I just have a better way of dealing with them now. I keep a pair of shoes in every room, and close by in the living room, so that I can smash whatever large crawling thing decides to make the migration from under the couch. I put the mosquito net down over the bed at 5 o 'clock so that by the time the bugs get swarmy at night, my bed is protected and clean. My dad will be glad to know that all he would've had to do to get me to turn lights off at home would be to introduce a hundred small flying insects that invade the house after dark. I make SURE to turn all lights off in unneccessary rooms. You never know what's gonna make it through the screens. Some words of advice for any of you that might be forced into bug extermination in the near future:
1) Bug spray is overrated except for large swarms of ants. Bug spray just makes flying insects fly sporadically and flop around everywhere before they die. When I spot a huge bug, I want it to STAY in that spot until it can't fly away (like into my hair, which still gives me a heart attack.)
2) Crickets (and we have huge ones) are FAST little buggers. And you MUST kill them because as soon as you go to bed it will start to sing REALLY loud and you will contemplate suicide. The best method is sneaking on them from above, and dropping a heavy object on top.
3) Ice tea or pop spilling is annoying in the States, but here, it's devastating. I dropped a gum drop on the ground by the front door, and picked it up and threw it away. By the time I came back, black ants had swarmed the place where I dropped it, fighting over the grain or two of sugar that remained on the ground.
4) The worst are the security lights at night. The moths and gnats and mosquitos LOVE them. Just put your head down, run through the cloud of bugs...and pray.
5) Take a flashlight to the bathroom at night. You don't want to step on a scorpion. I've heard they hurt REALLY bad.
My last advice to you is this: Don't ever wear a head lamp. It might seem like a good idea when the Zesco goes out. But believe me, unless you're partial to huge bugs smacking into your forehead, you're better off without it.
If you're not afraid of bugs...this is a great place for you. If you are, it's still a great place for you. You get over it, believe it or not. The payoffs are too big to miss out because of fear. I'm glad I figured it out (okay, okay, so before Jacob calls me on it, I'm STILL trying really hard not to be afraid.)