It was a mystery I had to solve before I could relate it to Kellie, for being convinced she would be coming here on my next trip I really didn’t want to share something with her that could cause her imagination to run wild… mine was already contemplating what I thought were all the alternatives.
It had all started when I discovered I had a roommate in my beautiful stone cabin at Samburu Sports Camp in northern Kenya. As a general rule bugs don’t “bug” me, not even spiders. I try to ascertain whether they are beneficial or detrimental to me and then take the appropriate action, either squishing or relocating them. I generally don’t like to share space with spiders because I get tired of clearing out cobwebs and spider webs and it just seems more efficient to clear out the spiders. But this spider was something unusual, my best guess being that he is a camel spider common to northern Africa and known to most of our troops who have done time in the Middle East. This particular specimen was about 3” across, as large as a fully grown tarantula, though he didn’t stand up tall like a tarantula. But the remarkable thing that struck me and first clued me in to his possible identity was his speed. After I determined I wasn’t going to share my space with him and knowing that relocating him would be only temporary, I determined that a quick kick would terminate him right where he now was on the stone wall.
Wrong. My “quick” kick hit right where I intended but he was 10’ away by then. And that is when the fun started. That spider could traverse the 25’ from one side of the cabin to the other, running across the very uneven surface of the stones, faster than I could move across the concrete floor. Quick didn’t begin to define him. But worse was that though he would run from me, he would immediately follow me back across the room obviously confident in his speed keeping him safe and either predatory or curious about me. I was especially careful tucking my mosquito netting in that first night as sharing a bed was much more intimate than I cared to be with that speed demon and our contest would have to be deferred until the next day. Well, he survived the morning chase and insisted upon circling me in the stone shower as I prepared for the day, but that evening a lead of about 6’ on a kick crippled him and with him running in circles on the floor I simply stepped on him though I didn’t grind him or obliterate him, just stepped on him lightly enough to know he was dead.
And this is when the mystery began. The next morning, thinking I would wash him out the drain with my shower, I was surprised when I went in there to discover the dead spider was no longer there. That caused me to go to the other side of my cabin to check on a very large cricket I had also killed but hadn’t picked up. It too was gone without a trace. Okay, so something had come into my cabin in the night and totally removed both the large dead spider and the large dead cricket. And this was my mystery. There were plenty of places a crawling slimy intruder could get in, but what was it? A snake? A lizard? I finally settled on lizard because believing it was a lizard felt better than thinking it was a snake; I had seen a couple of really long (perhaps 8’) snakes that were thinner than a garden hose and had no idea what they were but I was aware Kenya has some unfriendly snakes.
That evening, I stepped on a large water bug, probably about 3” long, and though it crunched, again I didn’t grind it into the concrete intending rather to clean it up… but I left it when I went to bed.
Very early the next morning with it still dark outside, I went to the restroom where the large bug lay on the floor. I had only indirect light from a small flashlight I laid on a high shelf, not really wanting to face bright lights yet. As I sat there I saw the dead bug slowly but steadily “walking” across the floor. This called for a closer examination, I KNEW that bug was dead. When I shone my light on it, I was surprised to see about 20 small ants under each leg of the bug, lifting together and carrying the entire bug steadily across the room. By the time I had taken my shower they had gotten it to the wall where there was a very small hole through the mortar, perhaps as large as a pencil lead. That afternoon when I returned to my cabin, I saw they were dismantling the bug and carrying tiny pieces through their tunnel. By evening all that was left of the big water bug were the wings; not a trace of the rest of the bug.
And thus the mystery of the dead bugs walking off was solved and it wasn’t anything as sinister or threatening as a snake. And now I could tell Kellie about it; it is one thing to relate that there are spiders and bugs, quite another to think you might have a snake in the room. But I did conclude that if/when I build my own stone cabin here, I plan to include some weather stripping and make the screens a little tighter just because I know Kellie would prefer it.
...and I continue learning.
Jack was raised in a Christian home where he spent his youth preparing to preach God’s word. First published at thirteen, writing and speaking became Jack’s passions. Whether through newspaper columns, magazine articles, radio broadcasts or public speaking engagements, Jack continues to share his heart with his readers. His life’s motto: To Know God, and To Show Him To Others.