I love holidays. And so, in the spirit of Halloween, eight of us volunteers gathered in Bonga to celebrate. Pumpkin-carving, pinatas, scary movies and Halloween cocktails made the weekend feel like a legit October celebration. I came home feeling fully fulfilled.
I unpacked my stuff and settled into bed with my netbook. As I was reading updates of all that I’d missed through the weekend, something caught the corner of my eye. I looked up and saw a large black body creeping across my floor.
My heart began racing. It wasn’t a mouse, although it looked like the size of one. A giant cricket? I tried desperately to think of an explanation for something other than what I knew it was.
I set down my computer and got up to take a closer look. It stopped behind the leg of a chair, so I couldn’t quite see its whole body. But the long legs of a giant spider were in plain view. I yelled at myself, be brave, be brave, be brave… holy shit! What do I do?!
I thought quickly through my options… fly swatter.. roach spray. That’s all I had.
Roach spray. I could stay far enough away and not have to make any physical contact. I tip-toed to the table with the spray and hurried back to my room. The monster was still there. Ok, ok. Be brave. I crouched down as near as I dared and started spraying.
Immediately it sprang from its hiding place and crawled across my floor to the other chair. I jumped back screaming, still holding down the button. I can’t honestly remember what came out of my mouth, but I couldn’t stop screaming.
Soon I heard my neighbor’s voice from the next room. “Kay-tee?” I tried in my best Amharic to explain: Huge insect! Spider. Huge!
At this point the giant was perched steady on my chair, somewhat stunned from the spray but certainly not dead. I thought in thirty different directions. I reached for my camera and turned it on, took a few steps near it, then threw it down and ran away screaming. Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit… it’s all I remember thinking. I grabbed my phone and unlocked the keys, stared at it, then threw that down because who the hell am I going to call?
I got my fly swatter from the wall and stepped slowly towards it. Nope! Nope, nope, nope, nope. Holy shit! Be brave. I was sweating and my heart was pounding and I felt myself shaking. I could barely breathe, which was probably good because the room was filled with roach spray. It felt like hours as I stared at it, tried to get close, then ran away cursing.
Finally my neighbor and another man came to my door. I pointed to the cause of my commotion and she looked around for more. “No, there!” I told her. She pointed her light at it, then continued looking. “There, there, there!” I yelled. I realize now that she just didn’t believe a spider was the cause of all my panic. The guy she brought with chuckled, walked up to it with my fly swatter and slapped it, scooped it up and walked out.
Ten minutes later I was still shaking, trying to get the image out of my mind and trying even harder not to question whether there were more. I wrapped my mosquito net around my bed and sat under it. Dear God, don’t let there be more.
There was no going to the bathroom that night. There was no leaving my bed. Every time I woke up, I saw the image of it creeping across my floor. Was it really that big? Where did it come from? What if there’s more? I try to tell myself I’ve faced the fear, it’s over.
I guess that’s Happy Halloween.