I found my first cockroach in my apartment yesterday. People at home in Canada reading this are most likely going to be disgusted, as the thought of having a cockroach in their home makes them think of horribly, inhabitable living conditions compared to the habitations they are used to living in. Cockroaches aren’t exactly a normal thing to find in your home where I come from. Bugs, in general, aren’t usually crawling through your house. The odd spider here or there, or an ant. But I never really experienced the reality of insects and arachnids until I moved away from Canada.
My first encounter with arachnids in my home came when I was living in Mooloolaba, Queensland, Australia. I remember the day I had to get over being afraid of spiders, as a Huntsman Spider crawled through our kitchen and behind the dishwasher, where my roommate and I waited for it to surface again, to be able to capture it and get it out of our house. I knew I wouldn’t be sleeping if I had a spider that big on the loose in the house. Living in Australia definitely got me used to having insects, arachnids, and even reptiles, crawling around my living space; geckos were everywhere.
Thailand was a lot like Australia, but amplified. Though I lived in nice enough places, ants were something I just got used to. I tried to remember to keep food covered or wrapped, as I was conscious and aware that ants would eventually find it. I will never forget the day in the apartment I lived in for my last month there, when one morning I grabbed a croissant out of the bag and bit into it just as I realized it was covered in ants. Seems I left the bag open… Never again.
When I got to the Marshall Islands, I knew it would be similar. I knew I wouldn’t be living as comfortably as I had the past few years between Thailand and now. And I was correct in my assumptions, as I quickly got used to the ants. They are in my kitchen. They are on my walls. They are in my bed sometimes. Sounds gross but that’s reality. There aren’t thousands, one or two, here or there. It makes me laugh to think about how just a few months ago I was complaining about waking up to an ant crawling on my face in a hotel in New Brunswick on my drive across Canada, and now I barely flinch as ants crawl on me daily. That’s life. You get used to it.
I will admit, cockroaches are a bit harder to get used to. Two or my friends here both had complained numerous times of the cockroaches they have encountered in their apartments. Until yesterday, I had not come across any. I thought this was funny, as their apartments are cleaner, newer, nicer all around, and I am the one with no cockroaches. Funny how that works. But alas, yesterday I found a dead cockroach underneath my dish drying rack. I laughed to myself, as it was inevitable, I was actually surprised it took so long.
In the moment, I thought to myself about how I would’ve reacted 3 years ago, 5 years ago, or even 7 years ago, to a cockroach in my home. And how much I have grown, and changed, and learned to let go of, in my time traveling and moving around. Now getting used to bugs is just a minuscule part of the ways in which I have learned to adapt, and I in no means am sitting here claiming to be some inspiring, brave person, for enduring things people have dealt with their entire lives. I just find it curious how little things like the way one reacts to certain things in their life can change so much over time. Now if I found a cockroach in my home back in Canada, would I have reacted the same way? Not too sure I would have been able to find humour in the situation quite as easily.
Oh and I am pretty sure my kitchen cabinets are infested with termites… ants, termites and cockroaches, and I still feel pretty happy about my decision to be here. Must be something in the water, or perhaps those kinds of things are so minuscule when compared to the moments I have with my students. Or the photos I capture of the beauty of this island. Getting used to bugs is easy when you get to live a life you love. Bring it on bugs, I am ready for you.
Update: apartment is definitely infested with termites. After writing this post and feeling pretty okay with bugs, I regret to inform you I had a really weak moment when I entered my bedroom to find termites all over my bed and swarming my light. Had help to bring my mattress outside of my bedroom and shake out my sheets. So much for getting used to bugs. One or two I can handle, infestations are another story. Oh world, thanks for showing me I am wrong sometimes.