Critters & Creatures

I dedicate this post to my sister, whose dislike of critters and creatures is legendary in our family.  This one’s for you, chickie.


My life is suddenly full of critters and creatures.  To be fair, I feel like maybe they were always there in my western life, just mostly unseen.  In my Banda Aceh life, critters and creatures are very much a part of my daily life, and they do not hide.

Cats are the most obvious creatures that have become a part of my life.  You already know about the random cat from the night of my birthday.  That was 1 of about 4 grown cats that wander in and out of the yard at their leisure.  I have no idea if they belong to neighbours or if they’re just strays that use our yard as a hangout spot.  Whatever.  Since the incident with that cat that night, I keep a close watch when I see them wandering by to ensure that they don’t go in the house.  I think they get into the crawl space between the ceiling and the roof sometimes, though, to hunt things that I don’t want to think about.  I hear them up there every now and then.

Meanwhile, I’ve seen a total of 1 dog in the entire time I’ve been in Banda Aceh.  Apparently, cats are liked here but dogs are not.  I have no idea why.  Still, most of the girls seem afraid of cats for some reason and I have had more than 1 class disrupted by screaming girls when 1 of the 2 kittens that A adopted wander through.  Yes, 2 kittens officially live here and have house privileges during the day.  I’m a cat lover so this is really not a hardship, except that I don’t clean cat poop and I have no intention of getting attached to a pet that I will be leaving in less than a year.  So while I let 1 of them sleep on my lap while I work, I don’t get involved in their care at all.

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One of the 2 kittens who live at the Aceh centre…I never said he was cute but he can be adorable

The next most frequent critters are ants.  I have never seen so many ants in 1 house.  We can’t leave anything out or they invade it before our backs are even turned.  I mean, nothing at all, not even sealed up candy – that is to say, individually wrapped and sealed candy.  I think I’ve gotten them under control for now, though.  I Baygon’d their usual hangout spots and they seemed to be taking a few weeks to regroup.

Then there are the lizards, my sister’s favourite critter to hate.  Truthfully, my old house was rife with huge croaking lizards but they generally kept to themselves out on the back porch.  I was fine with them as long as they kept to their space (way up high) and didn’t invade mine.  These Acehnese lizards aren’t shy and don’t stay up high.  They generally go away when they hear someone coming but they move way too slowly for my liking.  Far too frequently I go into the break room for a drink of water or to grab some food or something and a lizard is looking at me to decide if he needs to move and, if so, how fast.  I’ve taken to announcing myself to them when I’m going in there.  “You all better move it along now cause I’m coming in there and I do not want to see you!”  It’s goofy but it seems to be working.  I saw a small-ish one in my room near my desk the other day.  What was I to do?  I sighed and ignored it as it scurried back to wherever it lives in there (I didn’t look; I didn’t want to know).  They serve the very good purpose of keeping the roach population to a minimum (that I know of) so I’m not going to complain too much.

Even while I was in Sabanag on my first 4 days off, there were lizards in my room.  They also weren’t shy and actually woke me up the first night rummaging around in the garbage bin, where I had thrown an empty Oreo wrapper.  I stayed awake for a good hour, just feeling creeped out by the rustling that was going on over there.  A couple of days later, I saw one staring at me from atop the water cooler in my room after I filled a glass to drink.  Yeah…I hotfooted it back out to my hammock and decided there was nothing I could do about it so I didn’t worry too much and went back to listening to a podcast.

My life experience with dragonflies is very limited but the few I’ve encountered in Jamaica were never the up-close-and-personal kind.  The dragonflies here act like they’re flies, like they want to land on me and rest a while.  Serious thing!  I’ve had to swat one or two away because they right up close to my head.  They were right there!

And finally, the creature that lives in the drain on our street.  I first became aware of it one day about a week after I had been here, as A and I were walking to our neighbourhood coffee shop.  I was innocently walking along, chatting with A, when I heard a noise from the drain, looked down and to my right and saw a big tail disappearing into the murky green water.  Cue scream and leap to the left.  A told me that was the komodo dragon that lives in there.  Uh huh.  Komodo dragon.  Back at the centre, B said it wasn’t a komodo dragon but a large lizard.  I decided to reserve judgement since I had seen the thing’s tail for only a couple of seconds.

On my way back from my first 4 days off, as my becak driver drove me down our street, I happened to be looking down at the road when I saw the thing lazily crossing from one side of the street to the next then sliding back down into the drain.  Small komodo dragon, people (still huge!)!  Definitely not a lizard.

These are the creatures and critters that are a part of my daily life now.  It’s uncomfortable that many of them are there (not the kittens, they’re mostly adorable) but it’s just something to handle as I go about my day.  As long as I don’t have to deal with anymore cockroaches, I think I can manage.

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