Post 31— Encroachment

Big cockroach picture courtesy of Dave Gillmore. Thanks, Dave - this is an awesome photo!

Big cockroach picture courtesy of Dave Gillmore. Thanks, Dave – this is an awesome photo!

Mornings became more complicated now that everyone had to be out of the house by 7am. Karen was picking the raisins out of her toast as Jean tried to subdue her humidity-induced riot of curls, while Kathy and Carolyn could be heard fighting in the bedroom over a pair of flip-flops that both were claiming as their own. Chrissie looked over her fractions homework and considered substituting hearts instead of dots over the “i”s in her name. Subtlety hadn’t been working very well and she hoped Mr. Regula would show some signs of interest if she made the first move.

“I don’t like raisin toast,” whined Karen. “I told you that yesterday.”

“And I told you it doesn’t have raisins in it, it’s just plain toast. Finish your breakfast.” Jean gave up on Karen’s hair and pushed the half-eaten slice back at her. She stirred a lumpy glass of powdered milk and Nestles Quick (which was the only way to make the drink tolerable) and turned around just in time to catch the horrified look on Chrissie’s face as one of the raisins Karen had picked out of the toast ambled across her homework. Karen chugged the chocolate milk and missed the moment when her mother decided she had consumed enough protein and swept the toast, crumbs and bugs off the counter into the garbage. She handed her youngest a banana and went to break up the fight in the other room.

The native bananas are delicious, but the price seems to go up each week. We bought a large bunch (on the stalk) from a native boy, but we were hoist on our own petard when the damn things all got ripe at the same time. Know anyone who can use about 100 brown mushy bananas? We had them hanging from a rafter and covered with one of my shirts. This was supposed to make them ripen more slowly. No one bothered to tell us that the stalk ripens from the top down so we were checking the bottom ones each day. When we finally removed the shirt to inspect the stalk, a squadron of fruit flies took off from the soggy brown mess, and the ants scattered in all directions. 


Of all the surprises that came with a move to a new climate and culture, the one thing no one had expected was the insect life. Giant flying cockroaches had been on the island a lot longer than even the Polynesians and had no intention of going anywhere. They ruled the hallways after dark, and one never attempted a trip to the bathroom after sundown without turning on the light and allowing the scampering herds to clear. It was best to keep your eyes closed while this happened, for the Hitchcockian sight of them running to places you couldn’t see was almost worse than having them in plain sight.

Some kind of creatures showed up with regularity inadvertently baked in the local bread, and the ants had a voracious appetite for just about anything. One of their favorite snacks was the slightly used part of nylon underpants. A trail of them could always be found lining up outside the hamper to feast on the crotch buffet. They didn’t survive the washing machine, but their vigorous chewing was evident in the frequent holes that kept showing up in the girl’s underwear.

“Hey, Liz, look at this neat shell I got over at the Sandpiles,” Carolyn showed the large pieces of conch shell to their resident island expert as they waited for the bus to school. “There were still things living in it when I brought it home so we had to break it to get the animal out.”
“Didn’t you want to keep the shell?” asked Liz.
“Well, yeah, but not with that slimy thing in there.”
“Oh, you can get rid of them easy. Just bury the shell in the sand and the ants will eat everything that’s in there. Then you dig them up in a couple of days and they’re all clean inside.”

Carolyn looked at Liz admiringly and wondered why they didn’t teach this kind of information back home in the schools. It would have been handy to know that before the shell got wrecked.

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One Comment to “Post 31— Encroachment”

  1. then there were the shiny black oval cockroaches. It was alwatys difficult to decide whether to let them live and multiply unmolested or to swat them and deal with the house-filling nauseating stink!


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