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When I think of the

Ups, Downs, and All Arounds of Life in Peru

one of my first thoughts is


Even just writing the word makes me shudder. When I visited Peru in 2001, I was a (somewhat) brave high school girl. I was terrified of spiders (always have been, always will be), but during that trip, I didn’t see ONE. The only thing we saw were these:

I call these “Crickets of Unusual Size“, or COUS’s (if you don’t get the reference, think “Princess Bride”). It was hard to get a good picture, but honestly, these things are ginormous. Way larger than your average cricket. They eat through clothes, fly, and pop when you squish them. I do my best to never squish them. I sweep them outside. That is not so easy to do with things like this, though:

Literally my worst nightmare come to life. This is a wolf spider and this freakish creature carries its babies on its back. I kid you not. We had never heard of or seen such a thing and people did not believe us when we told them we killed a giant spider and babies scattered everywhere. It’s like something out of a horror movie. Uck. Getting creeped out just typing this. They normally show up in the evenings during the summer, scampering across our living room floor. Brian now covers them in spider spray (my go-to since I don’t own a vacuum cleaner anywhere to suck them up!) before stomping on anything. And then we sweep. And sometimes mop. So. Gross.

When we moved into our house, the bushes literally leaned against the side of our house. They were very tall.

This is Brian standing where our house is now. The bushes for the place where our house stands were burned down, but everything around it was left for a few more months. We had such an influx of insects I actually didn’t like coming home. One Saturday, I was home alone for the morning and decided to do some laundry and clean up the kitchen. I had my laundry hanging up in the spare room. Every rack had a spider hanging from it. I finally gave up and came into our bedroom to gather clothes to wash. I picked up a stack of clothes that had been on the floor for less than 24 hours. Out of habit, I shook them. I heard a *thunk* and looked down to see a giant spider running across my floor! I screamed, threw the clothes down, and stayed downstairs until Brian got home to kill it. I went downstairs to wash dishes having given up on the laundry for the morning. As I was cleaning up the kitchen, I noticed my counter looked funny. I got down on eye level and literally – the entire counter was moving. There were so many ants, it looked like my counter was going to walk away! I traced the line up the wall and out the front wall – there were 3 lines of ants marching across my house. I took my sandal off, slid it across the counter to kill them all, washed my counter thoroughly, sprayed the ants crawling up my house, and sat down on my couch and cried.

Somehow, over the last few years, I’ve gotten a handle on dealing with insects. I was told, “Oh, you’ll get used to the spiders and they won’t bother you after awhile.” They still bother me. I think they always will. But, I can handle myself (a little) better now. Brian has gotten used to hearing me yell for him to come kill something before I shower or while I’m cleaning the house. My students know how much I hate spiders and my 9th grader gladly kills whatever happens to be crawling across the floor, dangling from the ceiling, or hiding on my desk on any given day.

Another day, in the springtime, I was sitting in my school building and we literally watched all these tiny, baby spiders rappelling from the roof. Something hatched. I don’t have any idea how many we killed that day! Another day, also in spring, we were cleaning my school and found 3 black widows (different sides of the school – they’re territorial) and something like 27 other spiders of various sizes. ugh. Our campus now normally fumigates every spring; the spiders just got to be too many.

Currently, our issue is FLIES. A few flies is one thing – a fly swatter and a sticky fly strip and you’re good ta go. These are not a “few flies.” This is ridiculous. It’s like Moses’ plague. I walked into the kitchen yesterday and about 50 flew up from the counter into my face. Elena’s babysitter has been spraying to kill them, then thoroughly washing everything on my countertops, twice a day now. Ridiculous! This happens about twice a year – spring and summer. Nasty. By January, we’ll have 3 fly strips hanging downstairs, 2 upstairs, our fly swatter, and Brian will spray every night before bedtime. No wonder God used them as a plague on Egypt! Very useful. I wonder if the Japanese ever thought to put people in closed rooms filled with flies as a torture device? I’m sure it would be quite effective.

Now, I just have to ask: If spiders are “so useful”, why are we infested with flies?! I had three spiders in my shower for almost a week and I never once saw them eating any flies. Useless I tell you!

These are the main pests we deal with right here. In the jungle, there’s tarantulas, poisonous spiders, poisonous frogs, and a host of snakes. We do have rattlesnakes here… two crawled into my classroom one week. We also have scorpions, but right where we are, we rarely see them (we’ve been here three years and we have never seen one). Oh – and our ants bite. That’s fun.

Pests. Definitely a “down” of living in Peru! 🙂 Next time, I’ll cover an “up”!