I’d like to think that I’ve been pretty positive about my overall Peace Corps experience. Even during the challenging times and moments of loneliness and frustration while living in rural Costa Rica, I have always gone to bed feeling humbled and grateful.
But after last night’s events, I need some space TO VENT.
Growing up on a farm, I’m no stranger to bugs, critters, and wildlife. As a teen, I even spent years living in a house infested with earwigs. They were everywhere.
But since moving to Costa Rica, life with insects has gotten intimate on a whole new level.
I have found multiple scorpions in and around my bed…
Came back to my room only to find a swarm of termites seeping out of the wooden ceiling and waterfalling down onto my belongings, bed, and clothing…
Chased out a bat. Killed a rat…
Discovered an enormous deadly spider INSIDE of my umbrella after it was hanging on the corner of my bed all night long (that one was rough)…
And just last week cleaned my room to find a spider with her nest of freshly hatched babies living behind my bedside table.
In all honestly, when stuff like this happens it’s the only time I think about packing up my things, throwing up deuces, and getting on the next plane home. It just feels so invasive to know that while I am sleeping, in my most vulnerable, precious, peaceful state, these creepy crawlers are lingering in the shadows.
But what you read above is nothing compared to what happened last night. NUH – THING.
Oh, it went down. By the end of the night I felt like I was being punished with a series of bug-based plagues.
Let me fill you in.
For the past week or so I’ve been noticing more and more ants around my room, especially on my bed. I figured they were just the ants that came and went from the top of the wall (as they do) so I was just kinda meh about it and accepted them as they crawled across my bed.
But last night I investigated their route a lil more closely and realized they were coming from below the bed. So I lifted my colchón (mattress) and OHHH LAWWWWWDDDDDD THE SIGHT.
There were piles of ant larvae in every single nook and cranny of the bed frame. 360 degrees. All around. Not one area was without a larvae nest.
I sent my host dad down to the pulpería (the community convenience store) to get some matches and gasoline but he came back with some bug spray which I used to douse the entire bed frame.
After spraying the bed THIS GUY comes out from behind my bedside table.
I spent 30 minutes sweeping up the massacre of ants on and under my bed and then sprayed my entire room with the bug spray to make sure anything lingering would quickly perish.
There was absolutely no way I was sleeping in that room so my host mom prepared the guest room next to mine and I hopped in bed, turned out the lights, and read on my phone for a bit before going to sleep.
As part of my nightly routine, I did a sweep around the room with my cellphone light to make sure there weren’t any buggers around me. OF COURSE, this massive spider had crawled its way over the wall and was right above my bed.
Oh god those legs. THOSE LEGS. Legs for days! I can’t even look at them they make me quiver. I got out of bed, paced the room for a while and then got the broom, held it tight in my clammy palms, killed him (sorry), and swept him away outside.
Now I could finally rest.
I turned the lights out again, hopped back in bed, and played some Hex Crush on my phone until my nerves were calm enough to try to sleep. About 20 minutes later I plugged my phone in, got comfy and closed my eyes. Suddenly, I felt a sting in the middle of my forearm and quickly brushed off whatever had stung me. Given the night’s events, I figured it would be best to check to make sure that there wasn’t anything else creepin’ on the bed.
I kid you not an ENTIRE colony (seriously everyone was there) of fire ants had infiltrated the bedroom. They were dumping out of a crack in the wall to where they trailed down the curtains and coated the bed like tiny speckles of confetti.
¡AYYY DIOS MIO NO MÁS!
Luckily, the one other guest room was clean and free of scorpions, ants, spiders, and other bugs. At least within eye’s sight…
My sleep was restless and full of nightmares and illusions of ants crawling on the wall in my room. This morning I woke up happy to be alive and only have only 18 more weeks left in my Peace Corps service (yes, I needed to count).
Dealing with bichos (bugs) is something all Peace Corps Volunteers have to deal with, no matter where they are in the world. I remember my brother telling me he had to sleep with a headlamp on when he was in the Peace Corps to scare away the rats in his room at night. I also read a blog about a girl who stepped on a pregnant spider, which then released hundreds of tiny baby spiders into her home.
It’s not only the reality of serving in the Peace Corps, it’s the reality of life in the countries that we work in and the communities that we serve; places where infrastructure is underdeveloped and resources are limited.
No doubt, it will make you thankful for the simple things you never knew you had like proper walls and adequate insulation.
Don’t get me wrong, in no way am I grateful for these bichos that flood my room, bed, and personal space as I have gained appreciation for the little things back home without their presence.
But, I can say with certainty that I’ve learned to handle nauseating situations with confidence and composure and in just 18 weeks, I will be back home in the comfort of an apartment that has walls that touch the ceiling and is miles and miles away from the devil scorpions that have haunted me for the past two years.