How to Cope with Creepy Crawlies
I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with creepy crawlies during my years on the road including encounters with snakes, scorpions, and spiders. On the upside, these varied and heart-stopping experiences have helped hone my survival instincts.
To help avoid creepy crawlies in the future, I’ve created a short list of rules to live by:
1) Don’t let your feet touch the floor. I wear my flip flops religiously in hotel rooms and shower stalls. This also includes sandy beaches. The parasites that invaded my feet on the beach in Mozambique still give me nightmares. In case you missed it — here’s the video of my parasite surgery.
2) Don’t let your head touch the pillow. I look pretty closely at the pillow that’s provided and often opt for my own inflatable version. Another option is to use a t-shirt as an extra pillowcase. A few of the pillows in the tea houses during my Nepal Himalayas trek were particularly greasy. Gross.
3) Check the bed before you get in. I had more than one unsettling siesta in the Honduran jungle when I discovered a boa constrictor sleeping in the rafters over my hammock. I tried to be nonchalant and continue my snooze. My siesta was ruined for real once I discovered the boa was no longer there. Yikes! So check the ceiling and the sheets before tucking yourself in.
4) Turn shoes upside down. This little tidbit is particularly helpful in Australia where there are so many dangerous spiders. I always turn my shoes sole-side up and shake them before putting them on. Better to be safe.
5) Squat over the toilet. Unfortunately (or fortunately) most places I’ve been don’t even have toilet seats. In Africa, I was told this was to avoid Hepatitis E. (What? I have vaccines for Hep A, B, & C, but E? Never even knew it existed…) My advice is to strengthen the thigh muscles and avoid all contact.
6) Check ceiling and corners of shower. I’ll never forget when I good friend Clara discovered a scorpion in a Nicaragua shower. Want more info on how to treat a scorpion bite? Read: How to avoid a Scorpion Sting.
7) Zip all zippers all the time. I advised my friend Teruko to zip her bags in our Borneo jungle camp, but it still didn’t matter, the rats simply chewed holes in her rucksack. They were going for her dirty clothes. Nevertheless, I always keep my toiletry bag, backpack pockets, and sleeping bag zipped at all times. You never know what can crawl in.
8) Keep doors shut. In Sri Lanka, one of the bedroom doors was kept open to get a little air. Instead they got a little slithering serpent in the closet. A snake catcher had to be called to remove the offending reptile.
For housing without floor-to-ceiling walls, such as my tee-pee in Montana (where I also saw a snake) and the reed huts in Kalahari, I instead opted for a tent with a zipper, which I always kept closed. (see above Rule #7).
9) Move tent before folding. I learned this lesson camping throughout Southern Africa. I was told to move the tent to the side before folding it back up every morning. And sure enough, once there was a scorpion seeking some shade.
10) Stamp the ground before squatting. Obviously this is the most important rule of all, especially for women. When nature calls when you’re in nature, be sure and stamp the ground a few times to dislodge any snakes in the grass. No one wants a bite on your butt (or worse!).
Hope these hard-won rules will help you survive the wilds and keep the creepy crawlies away. Far away!
This entry was posted on Monday, August 27th, 2012 and is filed under How to Cope.