well, that was epic: why i will not set my net on fire

i was enjoying a lovely rainy evening in a nairobi suburb–talking to a friend and fellow uganda teammate on the phone when the siege began. yes. siege. a siege that has convinced this mzungu that not only are mosquito nets handy to not get malaria, but might be my new security blanket.

there i was, perched on my bed happily chatting away with lindsey when a MASSIVE spider crawled under my door. just zipped right on in as if i had invited its nasty little self into my nice warm room. (i had done no such inviting.)

i may or may not have shrieked (but not too loud) and gushed a little “holy crap” to my friend–and then explained what had happened. being a good person, she responded in a very helpful way, “oh my gosh. thats so gross.” its always nice to know that others feel the same way you do about spiders.

then the hemming and hawing began.

i was standing on my bed–watching said spider hanging out next to my book bag–and trying to decide what in the heck to do. i am the WORST about killing insects/bugs/spiders/anything other than flies and mosquitos. i just. can’t do it. i fear.

as i stood on my bed and talked over my options with lindsey i remembered a story from jen about a massive spider in her place in durham and how she (who also doesn’t kill things–even if for different reasons) took care of it. she very cleverly put a colander over the spider until help could be obtained to move it outside.

i knew that whomever i would have come help me would want to kill it, which is totally fine by me, but i did not want to leave it on my floor and leave the room to find someone because i just knew that if i took my eyes off of it – it would surely disappear into my room, and i’d be terrified all night long.

so i looked around my room for something to put over the spider and noticed my trashcan in the corner. i dumped all of the contents into a plastic bag, and inched my way toward the spider (lindsey still on the phone and giving moral support) trying to be very brave.

i am not brave.

i inched away from it and confessed my wuss-ness. but THEN i thought i could mcgiver myself into a solution with one of the wire hangers in the closet. i unwound one of the hangers and hooked it though the holes in the trash can–thinking that i could affix the stretched out hanger through the holes of the can and, from a safe(er) distance place said trash can over the spider.

in theory: its beautiful. in practice: i, yet again, chickened out…
i couldn’t get the hanger to hold the trashcan in such a way that i would not have to maneuver it quickly so the spider couldn’t escape. and frankly-i just didn’t want it at-large in my room all night long.

i had opened my door just after coming to this decision on mode of attack-in hopes that someone would come a long and wonder what i was doing–and be able to help me in my distress. (i.e. take care of it FOR me). it was also open because i felt a little more safe with it open. i mean- the spider could run out the door…or I could if need be.

two people went past while i was looking out my door for someone to come along. i didn’t know the first woman, and she was on the other side of the court yard. the second woman to pass was joan (pronounced: joanne), who was on the phone and who i didn’t really think would be the biggest of helps.

i stood in the door way, still chatting with lindsey when 2 white ants flew into my room. white ants are these massive winged creatures that flock toward light. they are totally harmless–and apparently also quite tasty–but i’ll be darned if i was going to be invaded by any sort of creature!

deciding that i had had enough of nature in my room for the night i resolved to go find some help.  walking toward the dining hall i was simultaneously listening to lindsey and begging jesus (the christmas jesus) to let someone still be in the dining hall who i knew and who i wouldn’t feel to terribly embarrassed to ask to kill a spider.

when i was within about 10 feet of the door father alfonse came out of it–blue and yellow umbrella with a japanese cartoon character umbrella trimmed in blue lace in hand–and whistling a hymn he probably had led that morning in mass. i greeted him and asked him if he could help me take care of a spider in my room. “oh! yes! my friend, of course i will help. you tell me the size of it.” he said.

i showed him the size by making a circle with my fingers (about 3 inches long and an inch and a half wide. it looked like a tarantula, but we don’t have those here) and said “it is covered in hair.”

he made an an assenting noise–the kind that means he understands–but it had a touch of concern in it. “okay. we first find a weapon.” (pronounce weapon: weigh-upon) our weapon of choice turned out to be a 5 inch long bamboo cutting that we stole from a potted plant.

we marched to my room–lacy blue umbrella leading the way and lindsey still observing on the phone–little was said, this is war afterall.

after reaching my room i opened the door and pointed him in the direction of the MASSIVE spider still hanging out next to my bag. (good little spider!)

“i’m just going to go ahead and be a really girly-girl and stand on my bed while you do this.” i said. this elicited laughter from lindsey and an affirming look and nod from father. he even waited for me to get up there.

calm cool and collected he sashayed up to the spider and tapped it with the stick. he used just enough force to kill it–nothing dramatic and nothing wimp-like about it. just a nice “tap tap tap” of the stick and then a request for a plastic bag. i handed him one and he scooted the spider into the bag and disposed of it outside.

father alfonse then returned to my room and said the following, “it was very smart of you to come find me to take care of that ka spider for you. it is very poisionous. i had to throw away the bag, for that i am sorry.” (plastic bags are reused and reused an reused here.) “you use that ka towel and put it under your door when i go so that you do not have to deal with more of these spiders. do not touch the mess it left on your floor–let the woman clean it tomorrow. tell her it is spider. very dangerous. do not touch.”

i thanked him, and we bid each other a good night and he went off to his room with his darling little umbrella. lindsey and i debriefed the event a little before hanging up the phone–i was thankful to have her moral support during this adventure!

i reassembled my hanger and put my shirt back on it and i have searched my room for creepy-crawlies and have found none except the white ants, which have already perished (i didn’t do it.).

so my towel is tightly tucked under my door–and i am wondering if there isn’t something else i can add to make it even more secure. perhaps i’ll stack all my books etc. against it as well… maybe not. but maybe. and i will for SURE be tucking my net in tonight, even though it is plenty long and there is no way anything of that size could get under it–i will at least be able to sleep knowing that i’m tucked in and there is nothing in bed with me. (yuck.)

in the morning i will ask florence, the lady who cleans here, to come and clean up the bit of leg and spider goo on my floor. i will explain what farther alfonse said, and i will apologize for not being able to do it myself. and then maybe i will ask to be moved to an upper floor…


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