Wednesday, April 14, 2010

prince of scorpions

Sometimes, we are simply careless.

Or complacent.  Or careless because we are complacent.

A number of us expatriate bloggers get very exorcised about the north of the border news outlets. 

You know the stories.  The type that send our friends and neighbors running to their telephones and computers to make certain we have not been kidnapped or beheaded or forced to listen to marathon mariachi sessions.

And, of course, we are always quite well.  Just as if we still lived in Topeka or Medicine Hat.  No drug lords or Marie Antoinettes having crossed our paths during the day.

That is not to say that Mexico presents no dangers to its residents.  Driving comes to mind -- much to my continued enjoyment.

But there are other reminders that as pleasant as Mexico is, it is no Eden, let alone Paradise.

Topping the list for most of us would be the dreaded
alacrán -- the scorpion.  We have a nasty little beige variety here that can make the hearts of the susceptible -- well -- stop.  To put it bluntly.

I have seen only one scorpion in Mexico.  The day I moved into this apartment.  (the wages of hubris)

Full disclosure requires that I now double that count.

On Tuesday evening, I was resting my ankle on the couch while I read Donald Miller's Searching for God Knows What.  (A book I highly recommend.  His style is very reminiscent of Ann Lamott.)

I had been monitoring my computer's attempt to back up my files -- a process that seems to be working.  The screen saver blinked the screen blank, and I was rushing to get over to the computer.

I grabbed my crutches and was about to put my healthy left foot on the floor.  When I saw it.

The movement and shape was distinctive.  Like some armored death machine designed for one purpose -- to kill before being killed.  The silhouette of many an adventure film.  Pure visceral terror.

And hovering barely above it: my bare foot.

Instinct told me to smash it right then.  Common sense told me that using my healthy foot to challenge the venomous was about as wise as taking a Geneva Convention form to the Taliban.

My crutches proved to be a far more effective tool to dispatch the scorpion life force to whatever netherworlds they occupy.

Thus the photograph that looks as if it was snapped by a CIA satellite.  I really need to work on my close-up death scenes.

I live a life of complacency.  Bad things seldom happen to me.  Or, at least, bad things that matter.  As a result, I do not take many precautions in life.

I don't wear shoes in the house.  I don't turn on lights for my nightly journeys to the bathroom.  I often wander in my garden in my bare feet.

The question is whether I have led a charmed life or do the little stings of life simply not matter to me?

Or am I simply turning this into another Zen moment because I am starting to feel reluctant to leave Mexico?

Who knows?

What I do know is, for the next few days, I am looking before I leap.


Christine said...

When we were in the far southern jungle of Costa Rica in a house that was really a big open air palapa, we slept with our sandals on the bed. We figured they were safe there from critters and handy for the odd midnight trek to the bathroom.

- Mexican Trailrunner said...

Good post, Steve. Arrgghh. I killed another one last night, that's 3 now in about 3 weeks. It's the season. They always seem to enter the house about 9 or 10, I go on safari now before going to bed. I found one under my pillow a couple of years ago. That's just WRONG!

Anonymous said...

The facts remain:
1. You saw the critter before you stepped on it (some level of precautionary consciousness is working in you)
2. You did not stupidly try to smash it with your bare good foot (some level of self-regarding reason is still at work in you)
3. Given facts 1 and 2, I think it is fair to conclude that you are not the entirely oblivious Chauncey Gardner you make out to be.

However, to be entirely honest with myself, I have to aknowledge that there are screws and plates in the other ankle; the presence of these devices has a cause. One cause for those orthopedic devices can be ruled out: Your ability to listen carefully to zipline operators and to follow their directions carefully.


Calypso said...

I make a habit of shaking my shoes or boots before inserted foot as well - a good habit amigo.

1st Mate said...

That look-before-you-leap thing is always a good idea. The ironic truth is that you'll encounter a scorpion when you least expect it, and are least prepared for it. Like the wee-hour bathroom trek in the dark. Or when you're in a hurry to get somewhere and you go to put on your shoes. (That's why sandals are always better, easier to see the little devils and shake 'em out).

Good for you, doing the backup thing. Tedious, but you'll feel so much better.

I've only seen two scorpions so far here in Sonora, one at my front door and one making a run for it across my living room. Both the mean variety. So glad you were watching where your foot was going, all you'd need is to lose the use of the good one!

By the way, did you mean that about us expats being EXORCISED over events up north? Makes sense to me. Any time I'm bewitched by conveniences and attractions NOB, I read news that drives out temptation.

Steve Cotton said...

Christine -- Anything on my bed would end up on the floor. I am the original thrasjung machine when it comes to sleeping.

Mexican Trailrunner -- On the floor is fine. Fair warfare there. But under the pillow? Too covert for me.

ANM -- Following directions is a bit blase for me. And too adult.

Calypso -- I seldom wear shoes. But when I do, as I will tomorrow on my last trip to Manzanillo, I will shake -- not to mention, rattle and roll.

1st Mate -- I chose "exorcised" for its pun-ability. Glad you caught it -- and liked it.

Don Cuevas said...

Wait until you wander into the bathroom in the dim light of an LED nightlight, and just as you get ready to sit down on the throne is...

a waiting centipede!

Don Cuevas