It was just after 18:00 so I hit the shower, knowing dinner was at 19:00. As I had moved into the chalet that happened to have a roost of bats in the bathroom, two remaining bats flew about. I turned off the water and commenced to towel myself dry. Being it Wednesday meant it was hair-brushing day. Quite an exciting event for me, as you can imagine, since I rarely brush my hair.
I began, as usual, on my right side when something made me look up, the brush getting caught in the hair and me having to yank on it, pulling my head back and up. And that’s when I saw a new tenant had arrived. Unlike the bats who can be seen and felt what with all their swooping and flying about and the mountainous piles of bat shit everywhere, this new tenant was the very silent type.
I didn’t like it one little bit. And not because it had eight legs and eight eyes. I can deal with that. But when those figure eights combined with the body become big enough to cause a combined solar and lunar eclipse, then we have a problem.
Surprisingly, I didn’t run off screaming. And not just because the two bats were swooping below knee height just outside the shower. Really, I was rooted to the spot out of sheer terror. If I was considered a white person before, I was now transparent. I’d never seen a spider that big – or anything of that size, for that matter – seemingly just hanging around lazily on the wall. It must have weighed like a rhino (3 tonnes).
What the fuck was holding it up?!?
And this isn’t the kind of spider to weave webs either (thankfully, otherwise we’d all be in a tangled, sticky mess). It builds a nest.
I reckon most of the poo in this place is from this fella. It’s big enough to compete with dinosaurs for the biggest pile of shit.
I finished brushing my hair and nervously put on my pants, never taking my two eyes off its eight. Then, even more nervously, I walked out among the bat (and probably spider) shit to get the camera to take a photo of it. As I came back around the wall that separates the room from the bath something else caught my eye.
At first, I thought it was a giant wasp. But then the shadow of it on the wall showed the hairs of its legs, revealing it to be what I was suspecting it to be. I raised the camera, zoomed in, focused and took a shot. Looking at the outcome I quickly wished I hadn’t.
It was another eight legs with eight eyes, perhaps slightly bigger than the fella in the shower (this thing was so big I needed to walk to Kampala for it to fit in the lens). I swallowed slowly and then went and took a photo of the shower spider (also taken from Kampala).
I suspect both spiders are on steroids. They’ve probably worked out with Arnold Schwarzenegger back in his hey-day. I imagine the conversation to be something along the lines of,
“Hey, Arnie, check this out, four dumb bells at a time. Whatchya got?”
Arnie doesn’t answer. Just throws his dumb bell at the spider. The dumb bell deflects off it. It doesn’t even flinch or blink any of its eight eyes (it then swallows Arnie, injects it with a parasite, coughs him back up and manipulates him to become Governor of California many years down the web, playing puppet master).
I backed away into the room to put the camera away and cursed the zipper on the tent that didn’t work. I stood there staring at the broken zipper and cursed it. Those spiders seemed to be the kind that ate whole tents. And mosquito nets. And quite possibly bats (which might explain the sudden departure of the previous ten. I reckon these two tag-teamed them. And only two survived).
In fact, they were so big they could wrap themselves around the moon and still have a leg on Earth. They could eat Pluto and still have room for dessert. They were so big they could sit on the eye of the huge storm on Jupiter and stop it from storming. They could tip the rings of Saturn. They were so big that if a spy satellite took a photo of it then Obama would get a call from the NSA saying,
“Sir, it appears the planet’s been swallowed up by a large arachnid.”
“How big is it, Special Agent Smith?”
“Well, sir, we can’t see any land masses or oceans. Can we shoot it?”
“Yes you can!”
I was contemplating on asking to sleep in my former dwellings when I stopped myself.
‘Mate,’ I told me, ‘this is Africa. This is the bush. They don’t wanna harm you –’ I hope – ‘so just relax, go have dinner, come back and get under that mozzie net as fast as you can and go to sleep. Savvy?’
At the restaurant a ranger was around. I explained about the spiders.
“I’m not killing it,” I said firmly. Especially as I didn’t have access codes to nuclear warheads or sharks with freakin’ laser beams – the only two things that could kill these fuckers. If I killed them, we’d need to have a barbecue as they’d be able to feed the entire population of Uganda.
“Just take a tissue and hold it –” began to suggest the ranger when I cut him off with,
“I ain’t holding this thing with a–” fuckin’ – “tissue, rafiki.” I wasn’t even going to hold it with lead gloves. “See my hand?” I placed it on the post. “Whatever is not my hand is how big it is.”
“Then just leave them,” the ranger laughed. “Just let them live. They won’t harm you.”
“I just hope they let me live,” I countered.
These guys move and it might shift the planet off its axis. Trying not to think about my new tenants, I sat down for dinner. Finishing up I headed back to the bat cave. Earlier, I had stepped on a thorn and the end of it had lodged itself in the bottom of my foot. I knew I could easily resolve the issue by grabbing my tweezers.
Which were in the bathroom.
To get there meant having to face Pinky and The Brain (I guess the upside is that they don’t party all night and play heavy metal music. Or try to take over the world).
I took a deep breathe, rounded the wall that separates the room from the bath and looked up to the rafters. The two bats were gone, out on their nightly hunt or to find new dwellings. Or eaten by the arachnids. I was kinda hoping the bats would come back. They gave me a heightened sense of security against the spiders. But neither bats nor the second spider I had seen were there.
Nothing worse than knowing what’s up there but not seeing where it is. I then looked in the shower and that tenant was also gone.
Their movements have probably caused an earthquake and a major landslide somewhere on the other side of our blue ball. Possibly the oncoming El Ninõ could be attributed to them.
I nervously grabbed the tweezers, went and sat on the pile of mattresses in the room and removed the end bit of the thorn before I turned off the lights, flicked my headlamp on and scoured the tent for any possibilities of sixteen large, hairy legs and bright eyes and then, faster than the lightening cracking across the horizon I slipped under the mozzie net and lay down, wrapping the sheets air-tightly around me
At 22:00 I was already nodding off. At 01:30 it began to rain and didn’t stop until sunrise (what are these clouds drinking? ). I’ve been awake for the duration, listening to the thunder, the machine gun patter on the tin roof, the lightening lighting up the sky, all the perfect ingredients for a night of terror with two of the galaxies largest arachnids just hanging around outside my tent.
I think I maybe going bat shit crazy.
Bat shit spider crazy.
Perhaps it was all a figment of my imagination.
Lemme check the camera.
Nope, shit was real.
*I’ve found it to be called a Rain Spider. It’s the biggest non-tarantula spider and, er, well, quite harmless [its bite is compared to that of a bee sting, tested on guinea pigs. Although the guinea pigs died within 3 minutes, it was found that they died from shock rather than the venom. I mean, if you were faced with something that had the leg span of 7cm and a body length of 3cm (doesn’t sound like much but meet them in person) and you might possibly die of shock as well].
It hunts lizards and insects. Its from the Palystes genus (from the Greek word, meaning ‘wrestler’). But I didn’t know it at the time. Still, doesn’t mean I’m gonna toss a frisbee to it anytime soon (probably eat the frisbee anyway).