For whatever reason, my previous post got cut in half. So here is the rest of it. But before I jump in I must put out an advisory here…people who are terrified of creepy crawly things…don’t read this post, and definitely do not look at the pictures. For those of you who are braver, or just like being rebels, read on and enjoy!
So to bring you back to where we were…we were in a 15-year-old abandoned church which we had just torched to get rid of the mutant fire ants, discovering a family of rats in the process. I had been hoeing and tamping down the floor for a while when I leaned against the wall to take a quick break. I turned my head to the side and immediately bolted from the church, throwing my hoe to the wind and screaming like a mad-woman. Convinced that I must be dying, the whole team came running. I’m sure they all thought I was being a pansy, because for all my wisdom in running away, my greatest fear only made them run TOWARDS the church. SPIDER.
Remember how I said everything in the Amazon is on steroids? The biggest spider in northern Canada where I’m from is the Daddy Long Legs. This was not a little spider. This was huge, hairy and had definitely been seriously contemplating eating me. Did I mention it was poisonous? Oh yes…I’m talking about the infamous Tarantula.
Now, almost as quickly as I had run from the church, the team ran into the church with their cameras; crowding around the beast snapping pictures. Reluctantly, I snuck back into the church staying as far away as I could. I was the only medically trained person on my team and if one of these insane people got bit by the monster, I would have to deal with it. It was at about this time that my team leader Joaquim decided to give me heart palpitations. Leaning forward, he reached out and plucked the spider from the wall, holding it up so we could all see the underbelly and the fangs. I don’t know if it’s just me or if its the same for all arachniphobes, but the underside of a spider is ten times scarier than the top side of them. But all of this I could have handled. Anything is doable with safe distance. Joaquim isn’t known for his observation of safety though. I don’t know if it was the mixed look of disgust and sheer terror on my face, or if he just thought it was funny, (I’m almost fully convinced it was the latter), but he decided to “help” me get over my fear of spiders.
By shoving the huge thing in my face.
There is a time and a place for dignity, just as there is for bravery. This was not one of those times. I quickly reverted back to my first reaction and ran screaming from the church. To my absolute horror, Joaquim followed me, cackling maniacally as he chased me around the entire building threatening to throw the traumatized spider at me. The whole team was rolling on the ground laughing at this point, but I was definitely less than amused.
Thankfully I’m a fast runner and Joaquim finally took pity on me and flung the spider out into the jungle. I would have preferred he kill the beast, but I guess you can’t have everything in life. We all returned back to work, me with a much more cautious eye at the walls.
By the end of the week, two things happened. First, I found 5 more Tarantulas living in the walls of the church. Secondly, I overcame my extreme terror of spiders. By the end of the week I entered into a truce with the Tarantulas; I mostly ignored them other than keeping a watchful eye on them to make sure they stayed on their side of the church and far away from me.
Its amazing the things you learn from travel. Who knew travel could cure arachnophobia? Now whenever I’m at home and I see one of our tiny spiders, I just laugh. “You think you are scary… you should see your cousin in Brazil!
(And for all of you who I know are dying to ask… no I did not see an anaconda. I only saw 1 snake my whole trip and he was itty bitty.)