Flashback Stories: Spider Eater

With most of the world completely come to a screeching halt due to a disease of historic proportions, you’d think the one people actually still active would be the bloggers. After all, who thrives best when they’re locked in their house with nothing else to do? However, in my case, I’ve been kept quite busy since circumstances are different. First, I live where I work, so isolation is no excuse. Second, I work in wildlife rescue, and animals couldn’t give two watery shits if the world is suffering a plague–they’re hungry. And we still have an obligation to clean up their watery shits.

So with animals to take care of and no one to take care of them (most of our foreign workforce went home while they still could), I’ve been pulling extra duty helping out feed animals, clean cages, administer medicine, wrangle snakes, sedate monkeys, net birds, and arm-wrestle sloths. I doubt anyone else’s quarantine is this interesting.

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My self-isolation involves iguanas.

But I haven’t had much time to explore, take photos, or find inspiration for new posts (I still don’t feel comfortable blogging about work, strictly). So I’m falling back on my fallbacks: Flashback stories. And what better way to start off this pandemic post with some good ol’ fashioned body horror.

No, seriously, the last one’s pretty bad.

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You’ve been warned.

I’ve mentioned before the concept of the “spider eater”–that is, the first person who walks in a line down the jungle trail and inevitably walks through many spider webs. It’s happened to me so many times that I’m almost to the point where I can identify a spider by its web. Not the appearance, mind, but the feel of the silk on my face.

 

Costa Rica boasts some orb weavers with webs strong enough to stop a human in their tracks. I know because that’s not an exaggeration–it actually happened to me. Several times, in fact. One was just high enough to yoink off my hat. It then bunjeed higher, out of my reach. But that was preferable to the time when I caught the spider too, and it ended pinned to my face by its own web and tangled in my beard.

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Not sure who was more upset in that scenario.

I’ve gotten in the habit of waving a long stick in front of me if I leave early in the morning when the webs are freshest, at their most strong and sticky. I usually go a few hundred meters until before I’m holding an enormous glob of what looks peculiarly like cotton candy. Once I did this during peak mosquito season, and the glob filled up with trapped bugs. Inspired, I ran around twirling my arms, deliberately catching in as many webs as I could. It worked–soon I was covered in trapped, squirming mosquitoes unable to reach my skin. I became a living mosquito trap!

But what happened this morning went a little too far. Have you ever tried to eat, say, hot pizza, and accidentally inhaled a little bit of melted cheese? And it stretched, down your throat and out your mouth like a piece of hair? Well, I was half-turned, speaking to someone behind me when I walked face-first into a web. I impacted the spider mid-sentence, just as I was taking a breath. I inhaled the whole thing. It went right down to Florida. I could feel it tickling the whole way, followed by a strand of silk. Gagging and retching, I fell to my knees, and managed to grab hold of the remaining web. With a combination of coughing and tugging, I reeled that little spider back up my windpipe and out my mouth.

orb weaver
In case you’re wondering, it did not taste like melted cheese.

There. Now you might want to explain to your roommate/family/partner that the reason you’r hacking and gagging now isn’t coronavirus–it’s spiders.

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