Cabrera: What hides in the dark…

The scene of the crime I will be telling you about...
   The scene of the crime I will be telling you about…

Let me just go back to our time in Cabrera for a moment. It turned out to be way too much of a small town for us, but we really loved it while we were there. All the wonderful beaches just a few minutes drive away is a photo tour in itself.

During our stay  I came across more wildlife than I had bargained for. While hanging laundry out to dry after dark my feet were attacked by ants. These ants are all over the island, but this is where they first bit me, and I still find it hard to believe it could hurt that much. Little A would get marks that looked almost like blisters whenever they got a hold of him. But my biggest problem came one night after I had fallen asleep.

Little A would sleep in the bed between me and the wall, as he did this night. P. was out in the living room working on an article, and I had fallen asleep long ago. Suddenly I woke up because of a sharp pain in my foot. The room was pitch black, I couldn’t see a thing. Then came another sharp pain in my foot and I screamed out loud. I realized that something was biting or stinging me, but it was impossible to know what or where it was. I panicked. The pain was awful. I was afraid that it would hurt Little A and so I tried to shield him with my body – making it impossible for me to stand up and run out of the room. Instead I screamed for my husband. Then came the pain again, on the back of my thigh. Suddenly the room was bright  P. had entered and turned on the lights. He told me he had everything under control and that I should just stand up with Little A. I flew out of the bed with our still sleeping toddler in my arms. P. took the creature out to the living room inside the sheets, and I heard him striking at it with a broom several times. It sounds overly dramatic but I was too afraid to look at whatever it was that had hurt me – the pain was awful and I knew I would imagine that creature every night before going to sleep. The fact that it took so long for P. to kill it only made it that much worse. When I looked at my feet I could see four big marks (two sets) that just made my imagination run wild. It took me until the next day to ask my husband what it was. A giant centipede. It had taken several blows for my husband to kill it.

For a whole week after that I thought I had some kind of virus again. I was weak, had a fever, my head hurt and I had stomach problems. I also had heart palpitations and suffered from anxiety and dizziness. It wasn’t until the woman who runs the preschool informed my husband that those centipedes are venomous that we understood why I was so sick. Having been bitten three times I should have gone to a hospital to at least get some antihistamine.

The baby version of the centipede that bit me - next to my foot in jardín botánico
The baby version of the centipede that bit me – next to my foot in jardín botánico

The centipede that bit me was a Scolopendra gigantea, also known as Cienpie gigantico (giant centipede) – as they are about 30 cm and pretty thick. I’m not showing you any pictures (except for that one of a small dead version I found in jardín botánico) because they freak me out, but I am going to link to a video for those who want to see what those creeps can do to a frog… We still don’t understand how it got into the house and our bed, and I never went to bed again without checking the sheets. Lots of people have lived on the island for years without seeing one of these centipedes, and not everyone has such a severe reaction to the bites as I did. But I would never stay in a tropical place again with my son without antihistamine and adrenaline, just to be safe. Children can suffer even worse reactions.

For those who are curious: the centipede versus the frog


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