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
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.
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.
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
Bit 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…