Sunday, February 14, 2010

Australia Day and Increasing Encounters of the Insect Kind

So I'm sitting here munching on some celery, basking in the 35 degree heat*, which is a nice and healthy 95 to those of you in Farenheit land, reminiscing about Australia Day: a day that all Australians look forward to as a day to drink many beers, grill many snags (sausages, of course), get very sunburnt and run around with Australian flags tied around their necks like superheroes.

This delightful day falls annually on the 26th of January. Wikipedia dutifully reminds us that Australia Day commemorates the first landing in Sydney Cover in 1788, which is about as accurate of a "discovery" as Columbus Day in the USA. But they LOVE it, and I love it too.

For my first Australia, I was lucky enough to start the day with a nice big helping of housekeeping (back up in Kippa Ring.) I cleaned like lightning, took a very quick shower, and then embarked on a nice long bus/train ride, about two hours in total. (Considering my past history with trains, this is fairly simple and time is easily passed.) Riding the train from Kippa Ring to Bundamba is practically the entire train line. I watched beer drinker after beer drinker board and disembark, until finally, I came HOME!

Of course by 12:30, the party was in full swing. Wading pool, cricket, sausages and lamb and white bread (because the Australian way to eat a sausage is to wrap it in a slice of white bread...), and the radio is playing because they do a Top 100 countdown, and everyone sings and plays cricket (they even let me take a couple swings, even though I still don't get the point), and makes merry. So all in all, such a successful holiday.

But the big shock came at 3:00 AM, when I woke up wrapped in a bathtowel on the couch and a giant red splotch on my arm. The splotch was itchy and the circumference of a baseball. Upon further inspection, it was revealed that this was no mosquito bite, but a juicy spider bite gone wrong.

I have no problem with insect bites. At the moment I have about a dozen itchy mosquito bites, mostly on my feet, hands and arms, and I hardly feel them anymore. But a spider bite? A spider bite? That requires a spider crawling onto me, without permission, and sinking its disgusting venomous teeth into my skin, without having been provoked. I fretted over it for a while. What if it were a redback spider bite, which could have latent effects that would put me into a hospital? What if I lost my limb? I circled the bite and watched it increase outside of my lines.

Well, after many hours of scaring myself into thinking I had met my journey's end, the bite began to regress (not after itching so bad I could have chewed my arm off.) And all was well, and I continued to make beds and scrub toilets.

That is, until I came back to Bundamba last week and awoke to yet another spider bite (this time smaller). Then, I start seeing baby spiders around every corner, and somehow, the bigger cockroaches start perching on the walls - have you ever had a cockroach waggle its 2 inch antennae at you? Gross! - and ants suction onto my feet, and heck, I feel like a regular Bear Gryllis except I'm not willing to eat them, embrace them, or promote them...or kill them. I just tend to run away or shake hard to get them off. I was weeding yesterday and had no less than three multicolored arachnids on my arms, which provoked a dance of award-winning performance to shake them off.

Tomorrow, the bug spray men are stopping by.

* 35 degrees and humid is pretty much enough to make me want to throw everything I own, including all the dried food goods, my clothes, and myself, into the standard size freezer.

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