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Monday, November 5, 2012

Encounters with (not so) small animals

(I wrote this one a couple weeks ago, just haven´t  had a chance to post it)

Flashback to a little over a year ago…..I was living in Honduras, in training, with a family of all women—2 middle aged sisters, 2 teenage girls, and the abuelita.  One afternoon, we all were sitting watching telenovelas, as per usual.  All of a sudden, Yeisling, one of the girls, points towards my feet and screams.  I look down and there’s a small black snake, maybe a foot long, slithering right next to my feet.  Of course, everyone’s first reaction is to jump up on the furniture.  Abuelita jumps up and books it into the kitchen, away from the snake.  For maybe 10 seconds we’re all on top of the couches and chairs, looking at each other, wondering what’s going to happen next.  Then Sonya jumps into action, grabs the machete (because, of course, every Honduran family always has a machete handy) and hacks the snake to pieces.  We throw the pieces outside, clean up the blood with a mop and a little Asistin, and immediately started laughing together about how hilarious the situation was.

Flash forward to about 2 weeks ago… After showering and getting dressed, I walk into the dining room to sit down to my normal breakfast here in Nicaragua—fruit, bread, and coffee.  I hear something moving in the corner of the room and I see a teeny tiny mouse trying to get into a bag of garbage hanging next to the table.  I call Doña Manuelita over to tell her what I saw.  She immediately reacts, takes off her shoe, and tries to hit the mouse, which at this point has hidden underneath the tablecloth.  Unsuccessful in her attempt to squish the tiny mouse, she takes my food out of the room, closes the door to the dining room and runs across the street.  She comes back dragging a cat by a rope tied around its neck, which belongs to her sister, Doña Esperanza, who lives across the street.  She puts the cat in the dining room and closes the door behind it and says, “Ok, Sarah, the cat is going to kill it.  No problem.”

Flash forward a little bit more to this morning…My alarm is set for 7:00, but I wake up at 5, and there’s something moving in my room.  Now, I lived in a tiny cabin by a lake this summer at camp, and I am no stranger to hearing mice running around while I’m trying to sleep.  However, the animal I heard in my room this morning, running on top of the dresser, on top of my mosquito net, and rustling around in plastic bags was NOT small.  After laying in bed, super freaked out, for a couple of minutes, I decided that the animal was too big to ignore.  Without turning on the light (because obviously I don’t want to see what it looks like), I run to the door, barefoot, and walk over to the door of the bedroom where my host mom and sisters (the twins) sleep.  I knock a couple of times before I hear them wake up.  “Creo que hay un animal in mi cuarto,” I tell them. (“I think there’s an animal in my room.”)  Doña Manuelita runs out of her room with a sheet wrapped around her, walks over to my room, opens the door and turns on the light.  At this point, I don’t have my glasses on or my contacts in, because I ran out of the room as fast as I could and without turning on the lights.  But, even in my half-blind, 5 a.m. haze, I saw a large, brown moving object on top of my mosquitero (mosquito net).  “Alla está!” we scream.  (“There it is!”)  Thus begins the hour-long ordeal of trying to catch and kill the rat that is in my room. 
The twins are now awake, and Doña Manuelita screams for her teenage grandson to come help us.  “Concho!  Hay un ratón en el cuarto de Sarita!”  (“There’s a mouse in Sarah’s room!”)  Somehow what he hears, having just been suddenly woken up is, “Hay un viejo con carretón en el cuarto de Sarita!” (“There’s an old man with a cart in Sarah’s room!”)  That gave us a good laugh, because he was super confused.  Being a too-cool-for-school teenage boy, he came over and had a look inside the room before he went right back to bed.  The twins are in the room with Doña Manuelita trying to catch the “ratón,” but it definitely was a rat, not a mouse.  At one point, I go inside the room because they can’t find where it went, and I see it climbing on the wall next to the bed that has all my clothes stacked on it.  We start taking furniture and my belongings out of the room to make it easier to find the rat.  Eventually, after some screaming and chasing we got it stuck behind the dresser.  Did I mention the lights kept going out?  That made the whole thing more interesting because the lights were going on and off and we had to use flashlights to try to locate the rat.  So, now that the rat is stuck behind the dresser, they aren’t sure what to do with it.  The shoe-hitting method isn’t going to work because they can’t fit their hand behind the dresser.  The broom doesn’t fit behind there either.  Doña Manuelita suggests the machete, and then runs to find it, but doesn’t know where it is.  They decide to call Pablo, who is a friend of the family who helps Doña Manuelita out by doing things around the house and running errands for her.  They use my phone to call him, and Doña Manuelita tells him to hurry quick and come over, without saying why.  He shows up 5 minutes later, on his motorcycle.  At this point, Doña Manuelita has found the machete, and her, Pablo, and one of the twins are in the room trying to get the rat.  It comes out from behind the dresser, and after about 10 more minutes of chasing, yelling, and looking under beds with a flashlight, an almost-dead rat runs out of the room and into the living room, where María Gabriela and I are waiting.  Pablo hacks at it a couple times with the machete for good luck and kicks it out towards the back patio.  We mop up the blood and clean up my room, putting all of my stuff back in it.  By now, it’s 6 a.m. and it’s been an hour of craziness.  The explanation that I was given, by multiple family members and friends, is that our neighbor has a big storage area where they keep corn and beans and things from their finca.  The rat must have entered from a hole near in the roof and fallen down into the room.  They also said the rat was “dundo” (dumb) because they family next door uses rat poison.   What a morning!


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