One thing about living in a tropical area that I don’t look forward to are the little creatures and flying insects that tend to come uninvitedly to any home. Already on my first day in Indonesia, at the Ngurah Rai airport in Bali, I’ve said hi to one mouse that ran right across my walking path, smacked dead one cockroach who dared to crawl toward my luggage, and enjoyed the lullaby of “tokke” lizards. While sitting down in front of the domestic terminal, waiting for it to be opened, I also saw two more rats somewhere in the not too far distance, scurrying from one side of a building to the other side, plus some dead cockroaches laying around in too many places to my liking. Quite a wake up call on my first day, I must say. These creatures and insects are obviously determined to keep me company throughout my stay, as we shall see further.
I was taking a late shower before bedtime one night, and by the time I was done, the house was already dark. My parents apparently had already retired to their room. I went to the eating area, which was just a few steps from my bedroom, turned the light on and from the corner of my right eye I could see something small running toward the refrigerator. It scared the ‘umph’ out of me. It didn’t take long for me to decide, of course, that it would be best to stay back in the bedroom. Then it was my turn to scurry fast, with a vivid imagination in my head that there might be something much smaller and furrier following my footsteps. Not a pleasant night, I can tell you that.
The next morning was not a better one either. When I went into the kitchen to get utensils and a plate for breakfast, guess what’s on the floor laying down on its back with its feet and tentacles all over the place, as if teasing me and saying, “Now what are you going to do, scary-cat-girl?” What insect that always falls on its back when it’s dead? Can you guess? I tiptoed around it, grabbed what I needed, and got out of there fast. According to my mom, right before when it’s about to rain a lot, cockroaches usually tend to come out more often. In other words, they are the signs that rain is coming. Great! Guess what, it’s currently rainy season here!
Oh, let’s not forget about ants. They are all over the place, in a variety of colors and sizes too. My mom has this routine in the morning that typically would include saying hi to the army of ants, followed by apologizing to the army before finally ending it with spraying and stomping. I join her in the stomping action once in a while. I figure the stomping may be a good exercise for my legs. Once in a while if the ants had gone way out of control, my mom and I skipped the saying hi and apologizing and went straight to spraying and stomping.
The last but not least annoying, the mosquitoes! This one probably has caused the most damage on me than the other creatures and flying insects. This is my number one public enemy! Since day one, hour one, minute one, they have not left me alone. They seem to like me. I’ve used some kind of lotion to ward them off, but they still like me. The fact that they like to stay around me is one issue, but they also seem to think that I’m delicious too. So now, my legs are slowly turning color. They now have the color of polka dots in red. Worse, I started to scratch them because they are so damn itchy! The result of scratching is that I developed rashes all over my legs. *sigh* This is not the first time I have this problem, though. I remember in the past when I visited home, I had this kind of rashes too after mosquito bites. It’s the way my blood seems to be adjusting; hence, the rashes.
Oh my, I almost forget one more creature, the lizards. Yes, there are plenty of them and in different sizes. One sign to know that they are around, even though you don’t see them all the time, is that they have this bad habit of leaving their droppings everywhere. They’re black, small, kind of oval and elongated in shape. If you see them, you know your buddy was there earlier. The droppings don’t smell usually, especially if they are small in size. The bigger the dropping, the bigger the size of the lizard of course. If the dropping is big, it may smell a bit. At least, it’s not typically wet or gooey. Sometimes, the color can be kind of greenish, instead of just black. Okay, let’s change topic from dropping. This has been Too Much Information.
The one particular lizard that I want to mention is the one that is larger in size than the typical gecko. In Makassar, we call this lizard tokke lizard. I’m not sure how people in other islands or cities call it. We call it tokke because that’s the sound it makes. It sounds as if it says “tokke.” Mind you, this lizard seems to have a loud voice too, so the tokke sound can be very loud. This is a warning to my non-Indonesian readers, if you’re in a house alone in Indonesia and you hear a loud noise in the house saying “tokke,” please don’t be alarmed. It’s just a lizard. My parents and I were just discussing about the tokke lizard earlier. They told me that it has just been discovered recently that tokke lizards have a lot of benefits. When I say benefits, I was referring to its body and organs. I’m not sure exactly which organs, but apparently, according to my parents, people now hunt tokke and the price of one tokke can go as high as in millions in Indonesian rupiah (Indonesian’s currency). Who knows if this is true or not because I question the source where my parents heard this news. While listening to my parents, I remember thinking in my head, “poor tokke.” I feel sorry for them because I’m not sure exactly if this lizard has a defense mechanism system to hide. The loud noise they make will always give away their location. Pretty soon they may be on the list of endangered species.
So far, my experience with the uninvited guests has been entertaining in overall. After staying at home for about two weeks, seeing ants and dead cockroaches (thank God they’re dead, not alive) has been a daily happening. Doing whatever I can to keep mosquitoes away has been a daily challenge too. Please don’t be alarmed if you see me suddenly and out of the blue clap my hands. No, I’m not crazy, just trying to kill a mosquito, which I’ve been doing a pathetic job so far in every attempt. When I say that these uninvited guests have been entertaining, I mean it. Don’t make them deter anyone’s plan to ever visit Indonesia, please. Do come and see yourself.