Africa is a dangerous place. Very dangerous.
Actually, that’s a bit of an unfair generalization. A generalization I had speedily reached in a moment of blind panic. If I’m being more reasonable, my room in a remote Kenyan village, Kithituni, was a very dangerous place.
On being shown my room on my arrival in the village yesterday, I was impressed with what I saw. I had fully expected provisions to be basic, but the presence of a bed with a mosquito net, a table and chair and handful of candles for night-time illumination meant I had everything I needed. If I’m honest, I had been a little bit concerned by the three-inch gap between the top of the wall and the corrugated iron roof, but thought nothing further of it. I was quickly distracted by unpacking, organizing my itinerary and experiencing the warm hospitality of the locals.
This place was to be my home for the next month or so. I had already been made to feel incredibly welcome here and, after a tiring evening of meeting new people and trying new foods, I went to bed, excited for an early start in the morning.
When I woke up, I wasn’t expecting to come face to face with a poisonous creature… But, there it was, no more than two-feet away from my face. A small, black scorpion. Motionless. On the wall above my head. It had obviously crawled in through the gap between the top of the wall and the roof. (I clearly shouldn’t have forgotten about that).
It had quickly become apparent that I hadn’t planned too well for liaisons with potentially deadly creatures. I was blatantly unprepared to deal with very real local dangers like this.
I froze with fear. Would a sudden movement alarm it? I just didn’t know what to do, so I slowly slid myself off the side of my bed and halfway across the floor – Never once taking my eye off it.
It seemed logical that if a scorpion could crawl up a wall (my wall), then it could, more than likely, find itself a hiding place in my shoe, my trouser pocket or my bed. I think if I found a scorpion in my bed, I’d probably never sleep again. Unless, of course it attacked me, then I may well sleep forever.
Oh God, I could wake up with one burrowing into my ear canal!
In a fit of desperation, I picked up my Kenya guide book. Surely this would provide me with a solution to my predicament? I flicked through the pages whilst trying to maintain eye contact with the scorpion. This was not easy. ‘How to avoid safari scams’… No! ‘How to minimize the risk of getting malaria’… No! ‘Places of note to visit on a budget’… NO! This was ridiculous: 392 pages and not the slightest mention of what to do if confronted by a scorpion. It is absolutely no good knowing about all the nice places to see if, on day two, you are bitten by a scorpion and die… Or are stung by one and die. You see, I just don’t know which end of its body it would use to execute me – Bloody useless book!
Or was it?
After a few deep breaths and a moment of rational thought, I realized that if you added all the interesting and insightful chapters together, you get a 392-page pretentiously-worded sizeable assault brick with which to beat a scorpion to death.
Now I had to wrestle with my conscience. With weapon primed in sweaty hand, should I really be killing one of Earth’s creatures? I was the one invading his country. He had every right to scare me witless. I had no right to counteract that with violence… Did I?
I hate dilemmas… But not as much as I hate the threat of death by scorpion.
Decision made: Goodbye Mr Scorpion!
Michael did not kill the scorpion. In spite of being fearful for his life, he just couldn’t bring himself to do it. In fact, he ran screaming to a local, who dispatched it with a breezeblock.
Some people are more prepared for the rigors of everyday life than others…