It would be fair to say I didn’t see this coming! You can’t make this crazy stuff up. It’s called life.
It was my first night in the African jungle and I was in awe. The lodge that would be our home for the next three nights was set deep in this wild paradise. My friend Prit and his close friend Kay were born in Africa so I knew I was in good hands on this adventure. Our dining table was set under a starry sky, a bonfire burned nearby, and it was our hope that the leopard that was spotted earlier would stay away with the bright flames lashing nearby. We were surrounded by lush trees, that earlier had monkeys swinging to and fro. Africa was already more than I could have imagined. I was eager to see lions, elephants, zebras and so much more. Little did I know what was coming. But then again, we never do know what’s coming next, do we?
I spotted it out of the corner of my right eye, a scarab beetle. They get up to 2 ½” and can carry 250 times their own weight. I wasn’t too worried, but just in case, my feet were tucked up on the inside of the table, safely off the ground. My friends looked at me, the city girl, with reassurance. Yah, I got this. I sat back in my comfy chair and took a sip of red wine. I had dressed in a new white linen set of slacks and blouse for the occasion, because that’s important. Not. A few minutes passed when I spotted something new approaching us, it looked like a cardboard box with legs.
Imagine a 2 inch square cardboard box running at high speed in a wildly erratic fashion and quickly making its way towards us. Both the men make eye contact with me but show no expression before averting their eyes back to this strange new creature. I got this, my feet are safely tucked away, I’m fine. Then it happened. The box came barreling at me and ran up the back leg of my chair towards my head. I screamed, Prit leapt with amazing speed out of his chair, swatted the attacking spider into the distance, and sat back down. We laughed, I drank more wine, and we talked about how fast those boxes could run! Then it returned. The son of a b*tch returned! It was headed on the same erratic path, changed direction at the last second, and ran up the leg of Prit’s chair. He jumped, his arms flailed, and with great gusto he sent the cardboard box flying off into a distant galaxy!
We laughed and resumed our dinner. Not much time passed when out of the corner of my left eye I saw it. It was long and red, had a zillion legs, and was the thickness of one of my fingers, and it was approaching us at a much slower pace than the cardboard box. It seemed intent on its path. A path I was directly in line with. Feet tucked? Check. I got this. More eye contact between the three of us. No words were spoken. I held my own from the terrifying wormy thing, that is until it got within inches of my chair, then I lost my sh*t. Faster than you can imagine I was out of my chair, screaming at the top of my lungs “I don’t f*cking do worms! I don’t f*cking do worms! I ran behind Prits chair, repeatedly screaming those words over and over until he calmed me down and Kay got out of his chair and kicked the red thing into orbit. More eye contact ensued, then Prit spoke in a calm tone, his words were directed at Kay, but he nodded his head in my direction. “She doesn’t f*cking do worms.” We simultaneously burst out in laughter and I returned to my seat. Then Kay offered these words, “Good call, those bite and can be very painful.” Another sip of my red wine was in order. I think I lost my appetite at that point. We chatted, they ate, I took a sip of wine and just then something smashed into my cheekbone below my right eye. The sound of the impact was oddly loud, like the smack one makes when you slap your hands together!. I screamed, the mouthful of red wine spattered over the dinner table, covering our food and my white linen outfit. I was up and out of my chair yelling, flailing, jumping and swatting at my face and hair. “What the f*ck was that, what the f*ck was that?” was all I could muster. We don’t know what it was, other than it was big, and that it too got batted into the same orbit as the other strange creatures before it. We didn’t linger too long after that. I think my heart couldn’t take any more, and nobody was going to touch their food seeing as it was now covered in regurgitated red wine! I was ready for the safety of the bed in our awaiting bungalow. When it was time for lights out something made Prit decide to look under my pillow, he doesn’t know why he did it, he just did. (I was still in the washroom at this point, trying to wash the red wine out of my clothes, and didn’t know what was happening.) low and behold there lying under my pillow was an 18” lizard! You can't make this sh*t up! Prit quickly scooted it out of the bed before I could see. Then he decided to lift up the sheet to make sure there were no more surprises. much to his shock there on my side of the bed was a cardboard box spider waiting to greet me when I jumped in. Prit scooted it out of the bed and by the time I climbed in it was as though nothing had happened and I was none the wiser. It wasn’t until four days later, after our departure from this paradise, that I would learn about the creatures that awaited me in my bed that first night in the African jungle. Wow, I didn’t see that coming! Any of it!
The spiders make for a great story but truly the entire experience of being in Africa was incredible. We found ourselves smack dab in the middle of a military coup and watched history in the making. An experience I will never forget. If you get a chance to visit Zimbabwe, take it, you wont be let down. And yes, I absolutely will return one day soon to this special place, the spiders did not scare me off!
We sat amidst herds of elephants, zebras, water buffalo, giraffes, and we fished amongst crocodiles and hippos. Africa has much to offer and I found myself inspired in every direction, not in the direction of the spiders perhaps, but I did manage to paint an elephant, some zebras, and some hippos thus far. I am certain time will bring more of my African experiences to the canvas. To see my latest work please browse my website pattyfeist.com. Life is certainly full of surprises and we never know what’s coming next. Aint life grand!