Flies and La Cucaracha

Thank you all for giving me grace this week and allowing my posting to be a little irregular. I am slowly catching up on life and sleep. I still haven’t fully unpacked yet, but I’m getting there too. It’s the strangest things that are reminding me of Guatemala.

(The above photo has very little to do with this post. But I am a better photographer of things than people, or apparently cockroaches. But it was taken in Guatemala, and there are pigeons, which can be kind of pesky, like flies and roaches.) 

Walking up the stairs to my room the other day, I saw a black spot on the wall. I didn’t know what it was. Standing to stare of a minute, I realized it was a fly. A fly on the wall. And then I remembered the flies.

It’s not like all of Guatemala is covered in flies. But there were a couple of times where flies just seemed to be around. A lot. We got out of the van to visit a house. When we got back in, it looked like a dozen flies had decided to hitch a ride on the ceiling.

Food is always covered to keep the flies at bay. The fruit bowls at breakfast. The horchata at lunch. Bread baskets.  Anything really that sits out and might attract flies is covered with a cloth like a tea towel.

Really the only bug or pest I saw other than flies was a cockroach that spent the day in my room. I danced and sang “La Cucaracha” for him. (OK not really, but I should have.)

Before I left for Guatemala, I was at the local dollar store picking up a few things. Don’t even knock the dollar store. Anyone who has ever lived a gypsy life out of necessity knows that the dollar store is a lifesaver. Everything for just $1. You can get all the things you need. Sure maybe it’s not the right brand. And OK, so they sell candy in little tiny proportions, but it’s only 1 buck.  What’s a 100 pennies really? You know if you went to the big store (I’m looking at you Target), you’d find all sorts of things you didn’t go in for and decided you had to have and you wouldn't walk out without spending fifty $1 bills. At the dollar store there is no danger of spending $50, unless you’re buying 50 things, and I have yet to find 50 things I need at the dollar store. But back to my story.

I was at the dollar store the day before I flew out to Guatemala and there in the front of the store was a display for cockroach traps and repellent (which I didn’t even know existed).  But here in front of me was an entire shelf of cockroach remedy. And I laughed out loud.

You guys, I have lived in the great state of Oregon practically all of my life. I have never, not once, seen a cockroach anywhere. Not in the entire, all 98,466 square miles of this state. Cockroaches don’t live here people. They just don’t. You can take my word for it. I’ve had my fair share of experiences with cockroaches.

When I was in 7th grade and living in Georgia for a little while I despised the flying roaches. If I so much as saw one hiding in the drapes, I turned around and left the room immediately. I figured it was best to live and let live. And that philosophy is probably why I left the roach to lie on its back in my bathroom in Guatemala all day. But that only works until bedtime.

You see, I once stayed with Mama in a room at the Carson McCullers house. (As in the “Heart is a Lonely Hunter” Carson McCullers.) It was a September evening. We were sharing the only bed, a queen. I was sound asleep when suddenly Mama was throwing all the blankets off the bed. I bolted up, startled by her panic. It was dark. I couldn’t see much. But she was screaming something about how a roach crawled over her as she slept.  Neither one of us got much sleep that night. (And for the record, that’s only #2 in the top stories of things that make Mama and I scream at night. The story that gets top billing really takes the cake.)

So I’m in Guatemala and getting ready for bed and I see the roach still laying on its back, only about six inches displaced from where I’d seen him that morning, I knew then that I had to do something.  I rolled up my sleeves and did the thing I’d seen my dad do hundreds of times whenever us girls call him to exterminate the spiders in the house. I grabbed a tissue, pinched the roach and flushed him down the toilet.  And I went to sleep without a problem.

In the end, maybe buying the roach traps at the dollar store wouldn’t have been such a bad idea after all. You never know when you’re going to encounter La Cucaracha.