Animal Tragic


When you travel you learn a lot about yourself, good and bad.

So far Phil and I have discovered that of the two of us, he is a more ‘hardcore’ traveller with the wash-to-wear ratio. He will happily sport the same outfit for ages, whereas I will start cringing after the second outing.

Phil is more gung-ho when crossing busy roads in unfamiliar territory, sprinting into the path of oncoming traffic.

I prefer to wait for half an hour until I’m sure I won’t die a horrible death (if you’ve seen how drivers handle the lanes here you’ll understand). We now have a ban on hand-holding when approaching any junction.

My most recent enlightenment was that I am ‘animal-predjudiced.’

Phil is regularly left baffled by my ability to coo over some of earth’s creatures and recoil in horror at other, vaguely similar, ones.

Take the other day. We were walking through a forest when a large-ish, colourful jacu bird flew close over my head and into the thicket. This was exciting.

When later back at the hostel a gargantuan, whirry black beetle flew into my head I screamed, well, like a girl, and ran away.

Once he had finished rolling his eyes, Phil remarked: “Oh, I see. Birds are nice animals. But beetles, well they’re just nasty…”

He had a point…So, in the spirit of my new-found irrational logic I’ve drawn up a little list, just to be clear:

1. Nice: Crabs                                                                                     Nasty: Spiders

DSC01493Ok, so both these guys have eight legs and move fast, but one of them is sort of cute and comical while the other is downright terrifying.

I think it’s the fact crabs can only move sideways that makes them a bit less threatening.

They have dropped down the scale a bit recently though since I discovered they eat the babies of Nice-y number 4. Spider Crabs are excluded.

2. Nice: Moths                                                                                    Nasty: Mosquitos

I hate mosquitos. What exactly do they bring to the table except suffering and irritation? I’ve never been bitten as much as in the past three months and the little beggars are particularly vindictive out here as they’ll happily chomp away through 50 per cent Deet and a layer of clothing.

DSC03058Plus there’s that whiny noise in the middle of the night as they buzz past your ear on the way to your jugular.

I was woken up by one at 3am once and tried to kill it by vigorously clapping my hands together in the dark like a lunatic. He came back with a mate a few minutes later to taunt me.

I’d take their flying insect cousins nibbling at a few clothes in the wardrobe any day.

3. Nice: Lizards                                                                                           Nasty: Snakes

Lizards eat Nasty number 2. ‘Nuff said.

DSC01495 I wasn’t too bothered about snakes until we did a trek through Chapada Diamantina and the guide told us about all the different venomous serpents hiding in the wilderness. He said you have to know your species, as some will rise up and attack from the front, while others will cruelly face the other way and get you as you try to sneak behind. Evil!

4. Nice: Turtles                                                                                Nasty: Giant squid

DSC03196Bit obvious, this one, sorry. Whenever I swim so far out to sea that the green-blue changes to a patch of black-blue, there’s always a split second when I fear it’s a huge prehistoric monster of the deep.

At least you know a turtle won’t swallow you whole.

5. Nice: Millipedes                                                                             Nasty: Maggots

Ever the romantic, Phil threw a dead snail at my leg once. What really grossed me out though were the wriggling maggots that flew out everywhere. Millipedes just seem to wriggle about minding their own business (for the record, Phil has thrown one of these at my leg too).

6. Nice: Cats and dogs                                            Nasty: Rats (sorry Dave and Claire!)

The nicies and nasties of the four-legged mammal variety. Even the mangiest, most flea-ridden stray cat or dog hanging around our table can become a bit more lovable when it looks up folornly, à la Shrek‘s Puss in Boots. We had a whole gang of stray dogs set up camp around our beach seats on one memorable occasion in Ilha Grande, and I didn’t bat an eyelid.

But when a rat scurried out from behind the toilet in our hostel, I squealed again and sought refuge on top of the bed. Phil inadvertently (at least, that’s what he says) locked me in the room as he went to fetch the hostel owner, who at first tried to convince us it was a possum.

But that’s just silly. Possums are nice…


About travellingtoothbrushes

We are a couple of journalists with restless toothbrushes. Our teeth scrubbers seem unable to leap out of their respective washbags to take up a permanent residency on the bathroom shelf. So, we've decided to let them live the way they want to and take them on a trip around South America...
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6 Responses to Animal Tragic

  1. Tia Annegret says:

    spot one – some things must run in the family…:-))

  2. Ian & Lesley says:

    Glad to see the Fauna is making an impact in one way or another. Phil doesn’t seem to have changed much then (and we don’t mean just his clothes!)

  3. Tony Collins says:

    Truly agree with the mosquitos being totally unncecessary, and not just ‘cos they cause malaria.
    I also remember being on holiday – at a game lodge in Africa – and listening out for their whining/buzzy noise. I pulled the sheet over my head and waited for my mate (in the next bed!) to be bitten before I re-emerged.
    And then we splattered their blood-gorged bodies on the white walls in the morning.

  4. Pingback: » serpents de la vallée du Capão

  5. Dave says:

    No way! Rats are cute! Instead of screaming like a girl, you should adopt the rats as pets and train them to entertain you!

    Snakes however… spot on, I’ve never really been up in the grill of a nasty snake and I hope I never am!

    Also mosquitoes… no neeed!

  6. Pete says:

    Clever article this, sort of duplicitous. Asks you where you stand. Myself, can’t stand hens, but love eating them, and their eggs, but love chic chics too!

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