Yesterday, I ate chocolate so rich, so deep, so goddam SEXUAL, it felt like I was eating something’s soul. Only with the best meat have I felt so sated. If only there was an animal made of chocolate around here, I’d gladly dropkick it’s delicious head off for another hit of cacao goodness. Having googled it, I can report with much regret that it is the only animal that doesn’t exist around here.
Central America is a massive zoo without bars, keepers or closing hours. In Honduras, hordes of little kids held up huge, dragon-like iguanas to the windows of our shuttle-bus, making ‘delicious’ gestures with their free hands. Butterflies, of which I am justifiably terrified (irregular flight patterns are not be trusted), fluttered through Guatemalan glades as silver squirrels and monkeys sniggered from on high. Pumas lurk deep in the shadows, waiting for their moment.
In the jungle that surrounds my Nicaraguan Spanish school, there are reportedly 7 types of tarantula. Not 7 tarantulas, but 7 TYPES. Let’s say conservatively that there are ten of each type. That’s 70 of the scuttly little bastards that could very easily climb into my mouth as I sleep. No-one deserves that many tarantulas in their mouth, not even the person who used my toothbrush to unblock a poo-packed toilet in Guatemala. But even more bizarrely, the surrounding countryside is also apparently riddled with transvestites, following the Mayor’s closure of Nicaragua’s premier lakeside transvestite bar after one of them accidentally tried chatting him up. Just think what could end up in your sleeping mouth if that tale were true.
There are also Boa Constrictors (yes, the unfeeling ropes of solid muscle that crush their prey to death), Howler Monkeys that think they are Lions at 4.30 in the morning, rampaging, razor-tusked wild boar and thorned trees patrolled by ranks of kamikaze army ants. Touch one of these trees and you’re pretty much done. Having already seen a lizard being murdered and dismembered by ants one night in El Salvador, I have absolute confidence that they’d be able to finish off a pasty Scotsman without breaking a sweat, or whatever it is ants do instead of sweating.
According to the guy who runs the school, most of the bees around here are ‘Africanised’. Among other things, this means they’re really good at gang-stinging humans to death if they feel threatened. His advice was very clear – if you try and kill one, make sure you finish the job, otherwise you’ll quickly find yourself wearing a bee onesie, en route to the hospital. And to think I was scared of the machete-wielding locals. Turns out the smaller the organism, the bigger the problem.
Case in point – the local scorpions, which cockily assume squatter’s rights deep in your rucksack, boots or pants, then go all ‘Ricky Lake’ on you if they feel like they’re being evicted. They won’t kill you, but you’ll probably look like a balloon for a wee while. Then of course, there are the myriad mosquitos, bed bugs and ‘don’t-see-em’s’ – invisible little fuckers who pepper your derma with cluster bombs of itchy napalm for the duration of your trip. Worse, and smaller still, are the kinds of bacteria that only the most twisted God could concoct. These microscopic horrors will magically spirit themselves into your gut and own you from the inside out, despite any medicine you may take. On day 7 of my latest bout of tectonic-plate-shifting-shits, I would have gladly walked naked through a rainforest-full of mozzies to stop the bum-rot. Luckily, just as I was about to do that, the bum Gods showed mercy. El Allah is great indeed. Let’s hope he steps in a bit earlier when I catch THE PLAGUE in South America. That’d make a believer of me, at least until I woke up with a tarantula in my mouth