Nicaragua is home of one of God’s most abhorrent creatures: the tarantula. Or so I hear…
Supposedly, this elusive creature lives mostly in the forest and is relatively shy, preferring to run into his hole rather than to confront hikers in the woods. This is the story the locals tell. But fellow travelers? What say they?
The long-term volunteers have encountered a tarantula right here, at Hacienda Mérida. It is a story so terrifying that they will not tell me for fear that I will be unable to sleep at night.
A Swiss traveler, who I met here, also had a rendezvous with a spider of the behemoth variety. She entered her room and to her surprise there was a very large black spider (from the way she described it, the size of a fist) perched on her table. It did not appear to be moving so she nudged it. As it remained motionless, she concluded that it had met its maker. But, as she lay down in bed, a dark shape scuttled up the wall. The expired spider remained on the table. So what was this ghastly apparition? None other than a hideous duplicate! She grabbed her trusty flashlight and an empty water bottle sitting nearby. She waited for a time for the mangy beast to show himself again. Finally he emerged from under the bed and without hesitation she smashed him, defeating the little demon.
At breakfast she asked if I had encountered such a monstrosity in my own room. She was unsure what this varmint was, so I told her the rumors of the famed tarantula. She had never heard of such a creature so she employed the aid of google images and began to scan the gruesome pictures. This was not the beast that had tried to bedevil her the night before. Tarantulas are normally pilose in nature, while these monsters that she had vanquished were freakishly glabrate. After further consultation with the omniscient google, she discovered that savages she had valiantly confronted are relatives of both tarantulas and scorpions. A hybrid fiend that haunts the night!
To this day I have not caught glimpse of either of these most formidable eight-legged aberrations. But it is precisely this type that I fear the most. It is an all-encompassing terror. More than mere aversion. And perhaps it is an irrational phobia but the agnst is real, and ever present, of the gargantuan spiders who lurk in the night.
I am armed solely with this weapon, with which I search nightly both under the bed and the dim corners of my room. It was purchased here in Nicaragua with the original purpose of navigating the stone-studded streets in the black of night. But it now serves as my only hope. My only defense. A beacon in the eclipse that is my anxiety.
Will I have a brush with one of these phantoms that terrorizes we lowly humans who possess only two lower limbs? My greatest hope is that the answer is no. I dread the fated moment when such nightmares become reality and a hideous parasite scurries past the ray that illuminates the cavernous spaces in which these loathsome arachnids take refuge. I wonder If I will have the courage to attack or if the panic will paralyze my every muscle and tendon. And if such a barbaric mutant does cross my path, with what instrument shall I strike? I fully acknowledge the deficiency of my arsenal. I dare not assault my foe with the torch that is my one, luminescent salvation. Will I have the bravado to use my own sole to crush the very exoskeleton of nemesis? I pray that I will never need to know.
And frankly, I’m starting to run out of synonyms.