Sunday, May 22, 2011

It's a Jungle Out There!

After spending several days on St. Thomas, one of the biggest things to jump out at me is the amount of animal run-ins I’ve had. 
St. Thomas is what they call a dry-tropical climate.  There are cacti right next to palm trees, which doesn’t seem to make sense, but that’s how it is here.  It is two extremes.  With this in mind, it’s my impression that when animals and plants have a chance to get some water, they take full advantage of it and thrive for however long the water lasts.  Plants that seemed to be dying, all of a sudden bounce back and animals appear out of nowhere.
With this in mind, the weather has been very rainy over the last few days, so it shouldn’t be surprising that the island and all of its creatures have come alive, except…I’m not used to all of these creatures, so it’s been surprising the hell out of me.
The first day in the house, I made the mistake of not closing the screen door.  Naturally, a lizard made its way inside and hid under the TV.  After my boyfriend and I spent several minutes trying to locate it, I yelled, “There it is!” when I found the lizard on the speaker.  My boyfriend then looked at it and said, “That’s not the one I saw.  That’s another one.”  So now we were dealing with 2 lizards – that we knew of.  We grabbed a garbage can and a piece of paper, our weapons of choice, and focused our efforts on catching the one we could see.  However, it eventually disappeared, so we went back to trying to get the one located under the TV.  After moving the TV several times, the lizard finally ran out from under the TV, seemingly running directly at me, at which point I screamed at the top of lungs as the lizard hid underneath the couch.  Without much success, we tried to get the lizard out from under the couch.  We finally gave up with the hope that our new friend would find his way back outside as easily has he found his way inside. 
Frogs are also prevalent in the area.  One night as we were sitting down for dinner on the deck, my boyfriend waved me over to one of the plants on our table where we had planned on eating.  He pointed to the plant.  There, nestled in the potted plant on our table was a frog.  Apparently, its best defense was to stay put, as it showed no sign of moving.  After some debate, my boyfriend and I decided to leave him alone as we sat eating dinner, perfectly aware that this thing could jump out at us at any minute.
Frogs and lizards aside, it’s the mosquito that is the most stealth and threatening of all the creatures I’ve encountered.  Make no mistake, these things are animals, and they attack with a vengeance equal to that of a panther.  After waking up with countless bug bites one morning, I quickly realized that all precautions must be taken to protect myself.  I set out to buy bug spray, anti-itch cream, citronella torches/candles, mosquito coils, etc.  As a side, the mosquito coils are to be burned outside, but I prefer to burn them, 2 at a time, inside for maximum protection.  I’ve thought about burning the torches inside, too.  We also sealed off all of the doors and windows, and at night we close all drapes and turn off every light.  This has helped, but not totally prevented bites.  I’m still at a loss for how the islanders avoid getting eaten alive by these predators. 
The biggest variety of wildlife can be seen by simply driving around the island.  One night, on the way home from watching the Bulls game at a sports bar, I saw a large crab scurrying across the road.  On that same drive I saw several frogs desperately hopping off the road to safety.  When pulling out of the Home Depot parking lot the other day, I found a small herd of goats eating flower petals.  There is also the occasional rooster that I either hear or see along the road.  In addition, I’ve seen a curious animal at the beach that appears to be some kind of ferret/squirrel hybrid.  Finally, there are numerous iguanas along the side of the road – dead and alive.  Part of me finds humor in the fact that, similar to what the possum is in the States, the iguana is road kill down here.  The other part of me finds it very sad that these poor things are getting hit by cars while innocently trying to make it across the road.   
I’m sure I’m leaving out several other creatures that I’ve seen, but the point is that it truly is another world down here.  I’ve found it extremely entertaining to take in all of my new little friends and enemies.  For the first time, I feel as though I am living in their world, rather than the other way around.  I’m not sure how I feel about this, but either way it’s probably the way things were intended to be.

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