Thursday, October 29, 2009

In which I make a truce with spiders

Before I came to Sierra Leone, while I did not consider myself to be deathly afraid of spiders, I still didn’t like them very much and was definitely kind of scared of them. To be honest, I didn't give much thought to potential bugs here before I left, until a friend asked me about it. Even then, I tried not to think about it too much. In the six weeks since I arrived here, I have to say that I have become much more used to spiders. In fact, I would go so far as to say I have called a truce with them. I originally titled this post “in which I make friends with spiders”, but I don’t think I can go that far quite yet. I see spiders here every day. They are in my bedroom, in the bathroom, in the office, in the library, and of course, outside. Some are small, but most are bigger than any spider I have seen at home. Apparently in the bush the spiders can get to the size of dinner plates!

At first they really freaked me out, especially because they tend to come out more at night when it’s dark. This makes them much scarier to deal with. In fact, at the beginning I even avoided getting out of bed to pee a couple of times because I could see there was a spider in the corner by the door to the bathroom. However, they are impossible to avoid. The houses and buildings here are all pretty open to the outdoors, so you can’t keep them out. If you kill one, another will just come along and take its place. Spiders do a good job here – they eat mosquitoes and other bugs that might be in your room, and they aren’t poisonous. I don’t think they even bite. No one here is afraid of spiders and they find it kind of funny that we are. I guess the fact that I am hundreds of times bigger than the spiders and that they usually run away from me makes them easier to deal with too.

All of this, plus seeing them and dealing with them daily, has made me basically resigned to spiders. Eventually I worked up the courage to use my little broom made of twigs to at least poke them out of the way of where I wanted to walk. Now I tend to pay them little attention (although if I see one, I do check if it’s still there later). A spider crawled on my hand the other day when I reached in to the cupboard to get something, and I didn’t even scream :-) Ok, so it was on the smaller side, but I’m pretty proud of myself all the same. I'm even starting to find them kind of interesting.

I’m not sure I’ll ever get to the “friends” stage with spiders. I still wear shoes almost 100% of the time I’m not in bed, and I especially wear them at night, just in case I step on one while walking to the bathroom. And I still shine the light on the ground to make sure one isn’t in my path. But for the most part I have declared a spider truce. As long as they don’t bother me, I am happy to let them go about their little spider lives.

Side note: I wrote this a week or so ago, before Chris arrived, but didn't have a chance to post it until now. However, seeing him see his first big spider here reminded me how far I've come since arriving in terms of my acceptance of spiders :-)

p.s. the spider photo in this post was taken in my room - it's hard to tell the size, but it was about as big as my hand.

1 comment:

urquharj said...

Glad you've made peace with those god awful things!! As you can tell, I haven't ;-)

Love all the new picture (minus the spider). The one of you and Chris on the viewing platform is fabulous! I really enjoy looking at the kind of life you are living really is quite fascinating! (The taxi's the ferry, your supper, the abandoned ship...incredible!)

Take care and keep postin'!