Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Trini Tuesday-That Really Bugs Me!

If you've paid much attention you know Diana lived in Trinidad and Calypso was born there. My son Isaac has not yet had his turn to even visit. It's his birthday this week so I thought I'd share something about Trinidad that gets him excited.

My last visit was during the summer of 2002. Before I went I called my dear friend who works in the entomology division of the Ministry of Agriculture.

Flora, how yuh goin', gyul? I comin' to TNT fuh meh holiday and I have a favor tuh ask.

Meesh, I goin' good. You would be stayin' by us I hope? What I could do fuh yuh?

Of course I would stay by all yuh. And well, meh boy does love insects, yuh know. He been catchin' dem since he jus' small and I was hopin' yuh could maybe hook us up wit' some big, freakish bugs.

Oh gosh gyul, yuh make joke!

No, Flora, I eh make joke. De boy love insects.

Gyul, meh own chil'ren eh like insects. Yuh does make me real happy! I would be glad to collect some fuh all yuh.

When we lived on the island, Flora had taken us to the Ministry's 'Bug Museum.' The museum is a large room full of specimens of virtually every insect to be found in Trinidad and Tobago. May I just say it was a somewhat disconcerting experience. There are some seriously big ass bugs that are just insanely icky. There were beetles the size of my palm or bigger, with these terrifying looking horns coming off their heads. There were locusts bigger than my whole hand. There were arachnids of nightmarish proportions. I tried to confine myself to the order lepidoptera...(deeeep breaths, focus on the pretty butterflies....). I had not yet developed even the slightest degree of appreciation for many of the much more sanely sized insects I lived with in Pennsylvania, much less these titanic tropical beasts that looked like they could carry off small children.

I asked Flora if I could expect to find any of these creepy crawlies in my own back yard. She said yes but that since I already knew wasps and bees I really only needed to concern myself with scorpions. Nothing else I would come across in my backyard was a danger. Right, except when I am standing on a chair shrieking like a...well, like a girl...because one of those giant beetles with horns comes lunging at me. (In my own defense I hasten to add that I am the resident spider killer here at the House of Lime. Mr. Lime is the one given to standing on chairs and giving an estrogen heavy performance when spiders are in the vicinity.)

By the time I left Trinidad I was learning to be blase. Crib legs in dishes of water to keep the ants off the baby. Wash the dishes after use and before use because of the proliferation of cockroaches. Wait for ants to exit the water well in my iron before pressing clothes. Don't sit on tree stumps so scorpions don't go after you. Replace electrical switches and outlets with regularity because the ants crawl in, get zapped and the moisture in their bodies shorts it all out. React by nonchalantly asking, 'Didja flick it off?' when Mr. Lime tells me he saw a 4 inch cockroach on my head when he woke up in the night. Understand that when I wake up with a swollen lip it is because a kissing bug bit me during the night. However, I still hopped around like a lunatic when a tarantula skittered towards me after falling from the ceiling and hitting Mr. Lime in the head. Mr. Lime just about had a heart attack. He climbed on a sofa after Flora's husband suggested Mr. Lime just step on the tarantula. Mind you, Mr. Lime only had on flip flops. I don't blame him for not wanting to squish that thing.

Fast forward to when we have returned to the USA. Isaac is almost 3 and now catches grasshoppers and crickets with considerable efficiency. He regularly comes into the kitchen dangling one by its back legs. I'm rather amazed that chubby preschoolers fingers are nimble enough to catch the critters without damaging their fragile bodies. Also, I don't want to ruin his fun by screeching in horror, 'Get that thing outta here!" Trinidad has helped me learn to control my responses and actually kneel down and marvel with him over whatever his latest catch is. Then I take pictures of whatever he catches. So now the routine is catch, marvel, snap a pic, release the critter, look it up in field guides to identify the species. He finds stag beetles, luna moths, walking sticks, preying mantises, newts, salamanders, frogs, snakes (the amphibians and reptiles I have enjoyed since I was a wee Lime myself).

Now it is 2002 and I am headed to Trinidad and Flora has promised to help me find some crazy tropical insects. As soon as I arrived she presented me with a scorpion she caught in her own yard. She also found a really magnificent walking stick,some sort of burrowing cricket, some gigantic beetle, and then I found this big katydid on the beach. It was dead but in good condition. I even picked it up and carried it myself, aren't you proud of me? It was really fun to see her glee as she caught these critters and told me all about them so I could tell Isaac.

trinibug (2)

She packaged them all up in jars of formaldehyde. She got me documentation from the Ministry stating that I had permission to remove the specimens from the island in case customs gave me trouble. Isaac was completely thrilled with his insect collection (I got some bonus 'Cool Mom' points and Auntie Flora got a gushing letter of thanks and a bunch of 'Cool Auntie' points.). In fact, just last week when everyone had to bring in a bag of their favorite things to share with their class as a part of 'getting to know each other' the little jar containing the scorpion went along to school.

Happy TriniTuesday!

May I also suggest that you go check the comment by Lacquer, Semi-Gloss Lacquer on my post yesterday. He added it quite late but it is a very good tribute to another WTC victim with whom he was personally acquainted.


Alistair! said...

Oh wow! Sounds like my beach house in Brazil. Some seriously big-arsed bugs there. There's also one beetle that if you step on it smells like a particularly stinky poo.

tl said...

It seems like Mr. Lime has a normal reaction to spiders. I believe they should be forced to wear a bell around their neck so you know where they are.


AndyT13 said...

Well that's pretty interesting! I love when you use the trini accent. You're totally busted for usage os "anymore" on your recent comment though. In case you thought I wasn't paying attention... punished!

steve said...

Loved that story!!

Cosima said...

How much I can relate to that story... The closer you get to the equator, the bigger the critters. I still remember the first cockroach I saw in Hong Kong, at first I mistook it for a mouse. Yikes!

barefoot_mistress said...

OK Lime, please tell Isacc that when I was born, in a Naval hospital in Asmara..there was a tarantula crawling on the wall! My poor mom, huh?
I mean, just try to squeeze a baby out while a tarantula is poised above you!
Well LIme, perhaps I will bring Isaac some wierd bugs from India...no no no....aint gonna happen...when the big bugs AND birds get into my room, oh! And Monkeys too!, Ijust call Rajuji and he gets them out for me. Now this started to be a daily thing thelast time I was there.
I dont know if it was because of the impending earthquake/tsunami...but the critters were definitely weird that year....

And one more thing......Titanic Tropical Beasts? Sometimes, Lime, with your writing, you just slay me!

(BTW You have to read TC Boyle, I know you will like him...)

lime said...

alistair, what's that enchanting fragrance you're wearing?

tl, great idea...here are the bells, have at it!

andy, it was 6 am, give a girl a break. please, pretty please with sugar on top.

steve, glad to hear it, thanks!

cosima, very good observation, i think you are dead on correct!

susie, or good grief, your poor mother. i was about 6 months pregnant when the tarantula fell, had it been later in the pregnancy it might have started labor for me, which would have been a good thing, given i was 2 friggin weeks overdue!

Logophile said...

I am not a bad of bugs either.
But Flora sounds like the perfect Auntie for Isaac!

Blither said...

Umm.. You freaked me out at Big Bug. Hold Me? Still Shaking.

rose_michelle said...

Ewww ... bugs! (I scream as I stand on top of my chair) I thought we had some really big critters here (you know those flying coachraoches that are the size of a small rat) You win. I tip my hat (it's this cute little pink and brown number in a pageboy style, but I digress). If you give it time, Isaac will soon be named the resident bug catcher at Case de Lime ... Sounds like he's got an impressive collection already.

ttfootball said...

Lime I feel allyuh live on top a ants nest. I never see somebody talk 'bout ants so, lol. And roaches...maybe the bugs get less/smaller as you get closer to Port of Spain ;-)

lime said...

logo, i can't wait for them to meet someday!

blither, deep breaths, focus on the pretty butterflies

rose, what a nice hat, it becomes you....isaac already does a fair amount of bug dispatching in these here parts.

tt, we did have it suggested to us that there was some serious ants nest (after we replaced like the 6th outlet) in our house beyond was sevens and a can of raid would take care of. but flora and another lady told me ants in the iron was not unusual, and flora kept her daughter's crib legs in dishes of water too. we started doing that after calypso woke of screaming because the ants has gone in after her drool and they were all over her.

lime said...

good grief, i really need to proofread my comments..........

Jodes said...

great post, I have a good one today too. ;)

Chickadee said...

Ok, so I really like insects and bugs, but I think that I would have been a little freaked out with the way you lived in Trinidad, well, initally anyways. I had NO idea how much insects are a part of everyday life there. But I'm sure pesticides is the issue or lack of pesticides. And lack of pesticides is probably a good thing in some regards. I'm not much of a pesticide person...just ask the 300+ seed ticks that were crawling all over my body last week from my jaunt in the woods. :)

That museum sounds fascinating.

Lacquer, Semi-Gloss Lacquer said...

Bug related moments in the life of yours truly...

1. 1982 Phila. (Col. of Art.) old hi-rise (apts/dorms,) roomie and I pooling money for pizza, beer, and various bug sprays, (LOTS of roaches.) -one survived, long legs, made him a pet (named 'sweatsocks,') regrettably, sweatsocks a couple of months later was caught in a roach motel, cleared all adhesive stripes made it to the 'sex lure,'lived for several days. 'Roomie comments: ...yeah man, but like his antennas were going like crazy the whole time.' RIP sweatsocks - you da man.

2.1999 -Cuddebackvile, NY (on protected waterway Basha Kill) small house in woods (read: heaven.) -except for snakes and spiders.
Never saw snakes.
-However, up, middle of night, (extremely small bathroom, extremely small... I'm a big guy...) sitting on throne, taking care of business, then realize that immed on wall next to my head was a massive spider (5" dia)
-G.I. and Urinary systems perform with spectacular speed.
-proceed to use every aerosol, paint, cleaner, and caustic liquid I can find to kill spider, (finally, it falls like king kong to floor with a thump... (bugs aren't supposed to thump...)
--live in fear for a few days, (did I take out dude? or did I take out dudes old lady?)
-I took out dude...
The missus came calling by weeks end and she was much larger and not pleased...

3. (final.)
Younger brother, kindest, classiest, and one of the most talented men I know...
-Lived with me in the woods for a while just prior to marrying his sweetheart...
-He has a book on him to which he writes phrases down and turns them into songs, (I usually resort to bags or napkins on seat of truck while driving...)
-He also has a book on all the ways you can kill spiders, (I think he's up to 208... (arachnids do not buy his CD's by the way.)

-Do NOT tell thes stories to a guy who is standing somwehwere, trying to make small talk -and he eventually tells you that he's an entymologyist, and has a pet tarantula that he loves very much... (stick to sports.)

lecram sinun said...

Coming from where I come from I know of all the bugs you speak of... so camping out in the jungle was always an adventure. Roaches still freak me out a bit but only the clusters found in an old shoe box... it's their chaotic scattering technique that unnerves me. Mano o mano... no problem.

lime said...

jodes, thanks:)

chickadee, oh believe me there are some wicked pesticides down there.

lacquer, you KILL me. 1)i'm sorry for your loss 2.) a woman scorned ... 3.)i think we need you to blog brother's methodology PS)kinda like when i went on a 5 minute rant about my whacked out wildman professor and when i took a breath my listener just said with a smile, 'yeah, dad can be like that.' (please may the floor open up and swallow me now....)

lecram, as i was writing this i was quite sure you could tell all SORTS of bug related stories!

Gary said...

I always love your Trini Tuesday pasts and thid one is no exception. You made me feel like I was there.

I have always been fascinated by the idea of huge cockroaches. I think I read once that they can get to 6 inches. I HATE cockroaches. But I think I would like seeing a huge one. Not anywhere near my house though.

I hope you are having a nice week.

Seamus said...

When I was growing up I used to hear stories about the bugs in Trinidad from our next door neighbor. Things like the huge bugs that would crawl across the ceiling and land in her bed. Reading this reminded me of those tales. :)

Moosekahl said...

Bugs rock! Funky foreign bugs are even cooler.

Fred said...

I can remember when I moved to Miami from upstate New York. I had never been introduced to palmetto bugs before. They're pretty darned ugly. Especially when they fly in the dark and hit you.

lime said...

gary, i'm so glad you enjoy these posts. i only wish i had pictures of some of the hideous crawlies there.

seamus, you've really got to share some of your neighbor's tales with me:)

moose, 15 years ago i'd never have dreamed of agreeing with you ;)

fred, big bugs smacking me in the dark, not my favorite

m said...

a 4 inch cockroach on your head?? in your hair?? he probably was just getting comfortable thinking he had found a nice place to nap and then zing, he is across the room on his back.

I think that I heard once that insects out number people on earth. icky buggers!

Nancy Drew said...

I have heard about these especially the walking sticks...YIKES!!!!!

Heather said...

All those bugs would totally creep me out. I don't know how you got so used to it??!