The Graveyard Outside My Window

Jordyn Voss - Brazil


October 6, 2016

One of the things that has scared my family most in my coming to Brazil was the mosquitos. I was told that it was an easily manageable problem, and not to worry about it. Those were lies.

Now this is a bit of an exaggeration. The mosquitos in Santa Catarina carry none of the terrifying diseases for which Brazil has recently become famous. This does not stop them from being the sneakiest mosquitos ever to cross my path. They bite through my shirts, my jeans, and even as of late, my socks. They bite through my fluffy socks (they’re necessary due to the winter cold). My legs are covered in bites and the evidence of my totally failed attempts not to scratch them. I have had to wear sandals for the last three days because my Achilles heel cannot take any more abuse, and yet I forget to wear mosquito spray nearly every day. I suppose it is an adequete punishment for my inability to get up for my apprenticeship at a more reasonable time (when I wouldn’t be rushing out the door to get there before my shift is supposed to start). To top it all off, according to my host mother I have a slight allergy to mosquitos, making the bites itch just a little stronger and a little longer than they normally do. Fantastic.

Now that we have that out of the way, it is time to get to the topic that makes mosquitos look like old news: The Variety of Bugs and Animals That Have Found Their Way Into My Room (and Occasionally, My Bed). There are four types of cockroaches generally found in this area of Brazil. Two are very small and harmless, one is large and harmless, and the final one is large and scary (but still harmless). I have had the pleasure of hosting all four in my room.

I would like to set up the first encounter for you:

 

I walk into my brand new bedroom. It is my first day with this new host family, and I am humbled by how kind they are (they even built my room for me). I stop for a minute to breathe and take it all in when suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, some giant bug swoops from the light and onto the window.

I yelp, jumping back. “Uh…. Julia?!?” I call, keeping my eyes fixed on the unmistakable form of a cockroach.

Julia’s door opens and she rushes over to my open door. “Tudo bem?” She asks.

“Is that… uh… thing… dangerous?” I stutter.

Looking in the direction of my gaze, she sees the cockroach and starts laughing. “He is no problem,” she laughs, walking over to trap him with her hands.

 

The roach ended up escaping from Julia’s hands. After a few minutes of laughing and attempting to capture it, we lost track of it completely. Yes, I slept in my room that night with a giant cockroach lurking ominously somewhere in the shadows.

The second time I have ever had to deal with a large roach, I did not have the comfort of someone who knew what they were doing. This time, it was ugly.

Upon discovering it on my window, I spent at least 15 minutes freaking out on Snapchat, 10 building up the courage to finally smack it with my shoe, and 5 taking deep slow breaths as I maintained pressure on its definitely-lifeless body. That was a stretch zone moment to say the least.

I have found flies, spiders, mosquitos, cockroaches, unknown terrifying insects, and a few days ago, a tiny gecko. The tiny gecko had crawled into my bed while I was sleeping and decided that it was a good time to say goodbye to this cruel world. Either that, or I crushed it. Either way, that was an upsetting morning.

With all of my new friends, I was presented with a problem. I do not have a trash can in my room. What was I to do with this growing pile of carcasses? It was just as horrifying as it sounds. The most logical conclusion led me to open my window and unceremoniously drop whatever had crawled into my room that day out of my window (held with a napkin, of course).

At this rate, I expect them to create a makeshift-porch right outside my window by Christmas.

Despite my slightly-disturbing plight of insect bodies, I am finding living in my area totally worth it. Yesterday I woke up to beautiful toucans outside my bedroom window. The view is unbelievably gorgeous, and certainly something for which to bare the mosquitos and cockroaches. I can deal with it if it means I can continue to wake up in my beautiful room every morning.

Jordyn Voss