Saturday, 22 September 2012

life on a tropical island

Yes the Caribbean, tiny rock island, actually coral,  we took r&r in Miami where there seemed no shortages. When we first arrived on the island we were put in a hotel in chalets with roofs of sea grass board painted green, much like holiday cabins but nicely appointed and there on 2nd night I met my first scorpion, it was around four inches long and pink and ran across the roof.... we soon learned not to put boots and shoes on without tapping them out first, next one I met was a smaller threatening darker one on the tiled bathroom floor, it waved pincers at me and raised a nasty tail in my direction,  but in 4 years there none of us got stung, when we were moved to an expats bungalow we were more careful on eradication of pests! An upside of the hotel stay was the presence of  hummingbirds taking nectar from a hibiscus bush outside the kitchen window, tiny iridescent jewels with wings so fast you couldn't see them!

Wasps were called 'marie bombers' and we had a lot of run-ins with them, usually my oldest got stung as he was more 'outdoorsy' than the rest of us, one got him on the eyelid when he was swinging high up into a tamarind tree, but apart from swelling and turning the eye black and blue, and blood curdling screams,  it was no worse than a UK wasp sting(which son now avoids like the plague!) These bigger foreign wasps had long dangling legs and built big paper nests on buildings' overhanging roof corners. If you left these they came to resemble diamond shaped Star Wars ships with a long single connection to the roof To the annoyance of the wasps their growing nests were easy to dislodge with the broom! Which we did, until we met the termites....

Termites ate your house infrastructure such as the roof beams! Eradication meant moving out, covering your house in a sealed tent and filling said tent with poison gas .....termites left dirty trails up the walls from the ground so on a whitewashed colonial style bungalow you could see where they'd been ! 

Ours entered an integral shed of garden tools and ate the broom, leaving the rows of bristles on the floor, then moved onto and ate the handles of the garden shears we'd brought from England.  They then marched indoors through the air conditioner unit (though quite how I was never sure, as they came in the night) and up the wall into the roof. it seems at that point they left again because in our roof was a large 3 foot scaly green lizard of the iguana type,  perhaps he scared the termites off, though I think iguanas are vegetarian! We spotted a similar iguana living in a hole in an organ pipe cactus by the boundary fence, occasionally the two would get together in what seemed a dispute over territory and then the roof rattled...

We had most trouble with bites from ants, there were lots of tiny brown ones by the post box with a vicious sting/bite It's formic acid they inject and it stings and itches like falling into a bed of vicious nettles. Other larger ants cut green leaves and then walked along in procession carrying the bits over their heads like parasols, fascinated the children! 

makes me realise just what a wealth of experiences we had overseas...

Now I just grow orchids.....tell you about those one day!

1 comment:

  1. Wow Morig great tale of your stay in the tropics. Another of my twitter friends who resides in Northern California is troubled greatly by Yellow Jackets (wasps) whose back garden is literally covered by them during the season and she is allergic to their sting.

    I was in Central America for a while and recall, scorpions, tarantula and all manner of snakes and tropical birds and iguana