Tuesday, October 28, 2008

MorceeegoOOHHH NO!

A little before 3am a noise jolted me from sleep. I later discovered a large moth (maybe an inch and a half long) hitting the window, falling to the floor, and thrashing around a bit before taking flight again to repeat the escape attempt. I convinced myself that it just sounded more impressive in my sleep.

Prior to annihilating the moth, as I lay quietly under my blanket listening, I felt a terrible stomach ache. It was the kind that fades until you adjust your position and then starts again. So my mind wanders…

Maybe I have jabuticaba poisoning. You see, I bought a blender yesterday and made a smoothie with a mango, strawberries, and some of these weird grape-like fruits. I start wondering about the jabuticaba – since I had gone off half-cocked and thrown a dozen of them into the mix. Maybe locals know something I don’t. Maybe you shouldn’t eat the skin, or the seeds? I fire up the laptop and Google the fruit, looking for the earmarks of an overdose. No three-piece limit. No imminent health risk.

My health crisis was interrupted by the sound of wings flapping just above my head. MORCEGO!!! I had been warned not to leave my screen-less kitchen windows open at night because of the population density of bats in Centro. True to form, I learned the hard way. My first reaction was to hide under the covers. Maybe I can sleep through it? Should I put in earplugs and make a cotton sheet cocoon? Nope, can’t sleep.

So I race through my arsenal of bat-knowledge acquired on some elementary school field trip to the museum, but it’s hazy. I know the expression “blind as a bat,” so does that mean it can’t see me? (I think the thing crashed into me in my sleep-which explains the whole waking-with-flailing-limbs thing.) Bats have great hearing, right? So I try a whistle, like the big bad human Boss that I am. Nothing. Let’s see, I think they like sweet stuff...??? Did the strawberry remains in the kitchen garbage pique its curiosity? Are bats attracted to body heat? Should I call Victoria to devise a plan? Call Dad? I continued my strategy of hiding for a while. Listening. Ten minutes of silence followed by another failed escape attempt. [bat: thump, flounder, flounder. me: shiver.]

I peak out of my safe house and see El Vampiro clinging to the screen near the top of the window above the bed. Gathering my nerve, I reach up and forcefully slide the screen to the right, leaving the left half of the window open to either grant its freedom or, worse, welcome its’ buddies to join in my pre-dawn torment. After a few more seconds of hiding, I peak out again. Old rubber wings is still fixed in the same spot on the screen and appears afraid to move. This, I feel, gives temporary grounds for peace talks. Or at least, gives me a bit of confidence to leap from the bed and fetch the broom.

Standing on the bed in the dark with heart palpitations, I try to stun it with the bristle side of the broom. Wait…is that a bat??? It’s the size of my palm but (albeit, observed in the dark) I think it might have iridescent wings. If that isn’t a bat, I don’t even want to know... Anyway, I hold my breath and poke at it twice but the flimsy bristles aren’t enough to do anything but piss the bicho off. I think I hear it fall on the floor but I am too busy leaping toward the light switch, and then back on the bed. I peer over the far edge toward the floor space by the windows. Nothing. Crap. It’s under the bed, lying in wait for revenge. I stab the broom, jerkily, trying to push it out. Then I work up the nerve to get down on the floor for a look. Nothing.

Did it fly past me into the other room? Did it fly out the open window? Either action would have been very stealthy for a stunned bat. After a cursory search of the apartment, once illuminated, I closed the kitchen windows, the small kitchen door, and the bedroom door. I figured, if it’s still in the bedroom, might as well encourage it toward the open window by limiting airspace.

I waited under the covers with my eyes on the window. After an hour on night watch, I am almost comfortably certain that it’s gone. I decide to get up and write notes of the event. Another hour passes and still no noises...

I learned this evening that, in fact, there are moths the size of birds here (yikes). In the end I don’t know what it was. But just in time for Halloween, I am totally jumpy at the slightest noise tonight.

Shiver and quiver,