…for such a time as this

Stories about the adventure that is Peace Corps Tonga

bug land….

Having my best friend Charissa here a few weeks ago prompted me to think about all of the crazy bugs I deal with on a regular basis.

These critters have been a big part of my life for the last year, but it wasn’t until Charissa pointed out how many of them there were, that I realized the variety I am dealing with!

I live in a convent. It’s an open building. We don’t have screen doors and the front door is always open. The hallway which leads to my room is made of cinder blocks, which are decorative with openings. This invites everything from the outside…well, in. It starts with rather large strange spiders and the occasional (ok, daily) cockroach sighting. It’s part of living in a tropical climate and in a house that isn’t mine. So the bugs and mice are free to come in and out as they please. I don’t fight them. The large spiders (the size of a baseball) eat the mosquitoes as do the Daddy Long Legs. The red centipedes are harmless unless they sleep on your skin; you get a slight burn from them. The red beetles just fly around the room annoyingly and the wasps have little mud huts on the ceilings. There are some other biting flying black things that someone told me are water bugs. Their bite is similar to a mosquito, but larger and hurts a little more.

But it’s the cockroaches that bug me the most. Our kitchen is ridden with them. The nuns use our cupboard as a refrigerator. I think the issue with the cockroaches is the food.

Food storage in Tongan culture is much different than in the States. Traditionally, Tongan food has been prepared with unprocessed ingredients like taro leaves, manioke (root crop), coconut milk and local chickens, fish and the occasional cow. This means that they did not refrigerate. What you made, you ate that day or stored it until the next morning or afternoon. If I have left-overs (Tongan or other),

I refrigerate, why not? We have a fridge, let’s use it. But the nuns do not. This morning I got up and found a bowl of “soup” with uncooked corn beef in it and a half eaten piece of taro (rootcrop) in the pantry! The cockroaches, (I am sure), know that they leave food out and enjoy it at night. The kitchen is full of them! It’s disgusting! So, if I had my own house, I would set up a million traps and fight to the bitter end with these things. But it’s not my house and if I tried fighting, I’d be the only one, so be it.



  Gypsy wrote @

I’m sorry–did you say spiders the size of baseballs? I would be on the next plane home.

  heidi wrote @

spiders the size of baseballs and cetipedes sleeping on your skin?!??! my goodness that sounds wretched. do you need me to send you some raid?? take care juleigh…love you!

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