Wednesday, February 06, 2008


This post is dedicated to the memory of my teeth.

After a hearty dinner of grilled pork chops, boiled potatoes, and mushroom soup, six of us in our group headed for the bar of the Kande Beach lodge huts, situated on the western shore of Lake Malawi. We ordered Scotch, which we're using as an internal antiseptic, and played pool while listening to classic American rock. Just one Scotch and a slice of chocolate cake for me, and I was nodding off at the bar.

I returned to my beach hut, pulled the dirty blue mosquito netting over the damp and stained prison-issue sheets and thin pillow. Just as I was fumbling around in the dim light for my toothbrush, I noticed a pair of eyes watching me. Or several pairs, as it were. "Jesus," I breathed irreverently, "a tarantula." I'd known this moment would come, but in booking my trip to the Land Of All Things Big, I hadn't anticipated just how pronounced my arachnophobia would be. Eyes locked on eachother, I slowly reached onto the bed to retrieve my industrial strength bug spray. Feet frozen to the floor, I slowly bent forward and sprayed him. And the entire doorframe and wall.

He must have died instantly, because a dozen or so of his friends came to his funeral right away. They rallied around his corpse, lots and lots of them. Feet still glued to the floor, I felt my intestines tighten and I started to cry. I bent forward again and unlatched the lock on the door, shut my eyes, and sprinted out. I found George the guide in the bar, and asked him what I should do. Masking mockery with concern, he offered me a night alone in the unused tent. Unused because of the rain and flooding in the area. Meaning, it was either the spiders or I'd sleep in a puddle. I chose the latter.

I unzipped the door to the tent, climbed inside, and unwrapped my brand-new "800g-lightweight-woman" sleeping bag which is lightweight perhaps because it comes without the comfort of any interior cloth. I tucked myself into my plastic wrap bedding and shut my eyes. I slowly drifted off to sleep only to wake up an hour or so later to thunder and lightning. I gritted my teeth and shut my eyes, willing myself back to sleep. At dawn I woke up to puddles all around me in my tent, and a film of sweat inside my plastic wrap. I'd been dreaming of creatures, and grinding my teeth all night.

I packed my gear, and headed in the rain for the shower. A gecko eyed me nervously. "Where were YOU last night when I needed you?" I said out loud to the spider-eating lizard. He sauntered off. At breakfast, I recounted my story to the group, telling them in great detail how my hatred for spiders was on a clinical level. Moose, our African cook, admonished me, "You should never hate any creature. Never."

And that was that...

Apologies for the lack of editing...I have only 15 minutes to write today...more later

1 comment:

MET said...

Having been looking forward to this day, when I could at leisure read all your posts at once, I am excited to confirm you continue to be the best travel writer I have ever had the pleasure of reading.

Trish, when you are back, print out Mongolia and Africa, put together a book proposal and send it to an agent to get you a book deal.

This is where your true talent lies. You are amazing!