I woke up, got water for coffee, and saw a cockroach meandering on the floor by the sink.
It froze. I froze. Same moment. Sizing each other up.
I didn’t want to kill it. I didn’t want it in my place, and I didn’t want it to touch me. I was barefoot. I had nothing within reach with which to shoo it out the nearby door. Great.
It made a run for a dark corner (it was fast!). I grabbed my sneaker and opened the door in one continuous motion – a move graceful yet desperate.
I tried to shoo it out the door with my sneaker. It wasn’t cooperating. Every hair on my body was standing up. I might have shrieked, I don’t know for sure.
See, I have this thing about bugs. Any life, really – not just bugs. I can’t kill things. I still eat fish, but not red meat. Or white meat. Or dark meat. And I’m starting to feel bad about the fish.
Then there is the karma thing. I’ve watched my husband kill flies and mosquitoes and gnats, only to have double the number return. Maybe bugs send out sounds or signals we can’t hear, and they swarm areas where their species were murdered.
I do kill mosquitoes, when I feel them bite me. They love to eat me.
Back to roach. I did everything I could not to kill the darn thing. But, I wanted coffee. I wanted to be done with this drama. So, eventually, I put my sneaker down on it. Not too hard. It was still alive – with a crushed leg.
I flung it outside and shut the door. I’d put it in a plant around the corner or something later. After coffee. After the cleanup from its leg guts on the floor by the sink. What a way to start the day.
Cleaned up the goo. Gagged.
On the way to the fridge to get the coffee, I thought about how I was sorry about the roach’s leg, and that I was glad I didn’t kill it and how I’m trying to keep good karma by sparing its life – and I sure don’t want another one.
I opened the refrigerator door – thinking about bug karma – and BAAAMM – there’s a mega roach easily eight times the size of the first one! It’s on the side of the fridge door.
This second roach was so large, it had a distinct head. It looked at me, as stunned as I was. I moved first. I kicked the fridge door shut. Big Fella moved into a crevasse on the top of the door. It’s a small fridge, less than four feet tall.
Then it scurried into the fridge handle (it was even faster than the little fella!) and I leaped to the counter to grab kitchen cleaner in a spray bottle. I have been fastidious about keeping all traces of food at zero inside this room for this very reason.
Bottle in hand, I returned my gaze to the fridge handle. It’s more like an indentation where you grab the door. Big Fella was trying to hide in there but it was so large, its antennae were sticking out of the top. Dead giveaway.
Fridge was sealed. I had cleaner. It’s trapped. I started to spray. And spray and spray and spray. I kept thinking – ‘this cleaner won’t really hurt the big fella – roaches live through anything and everything. I’m just going to stun it enough to shoo it out of the apartment with my sneaker’, which I’m suddenly holding, though I don’t remember grabbing it.
The spraying worked. Big Fella appeared stunned. Still tried to get away. It left the crevasse and was back in the crack in the door. Fridge still sealed. It’s still trapped. I grabbed a weird kitchen utensil I never used and don’t recognize, and flung it out of the crack.
Big Fella was on the floor, moving slower, but not exactly slow. This time, I know I shrieked.
Before I could think about what to do next, how to shoo it out the door with my shoe, I brought the sneaker down on it. Twice. The first time simply seemed to stun it more.
Big Fella Mega Roach was still alive, with a crushed leg. I have chills writing this recollection. Ick. (Picture is not for the squeamish. It is at the end of this post.)
I realize Big Fella is just too big and needs to be scooped up, which I do with about a whole role of paper towels so I don’t have to feel its body. I put the whole mess into a trash bag and take it downstairs and out to trash can on the street.
On the way back upstairs, there’s the first roach, struggling to get away from ants with a crushed leg. Man, talk about a bad day. I used the outdoor broom to put the roach over the edge of the porch and into the shrub below.
A few hours later I told the roach story to my friend who lives here in Tulum. He said roaches are something everyone in Mexico simply accepts as the norm. He suggested a roach spray to zap them next time. Since there will be a next time, I guess roach spray is more humane than broken legs and ant gnawing.
Who knows what kind of chemicals are in the spray. I bought the can that said safe for home use and ‘ultra green’.
In the grand scheme of things, most of the people on this earth live with the reality of roaches. They have bigger issues to worry about. Like running from war, or religious crusaders. Stressing about where food for the family will come from next. Anxiety over diseases from the bites of other sinister bugs. Any number of various human miseries are worse than the vile, creepy, ancient survivor known as the cockroach.
So, I add roaches to the list of things I need to accept and deal with, if I’m going to live in places less privileged than where I am accustomed. And I will always add bug spray to my shopping list wherever I live.
(STOP – Big Fella is pictured below. If you don’t want to see it – stop scrolling.)
Side note, my spouse bought me Riddex to take to Tulum. It has been plugged in every night since I’ve been here, except for the night prior to the appearance of big fella and the other one. Now, I’m not endorsing the product, since the FTC is investigating advertising claims, but, isn’t that interesting? I also brought one down for my friend who lives here. He requested one, which is why my husband bought any at all, because our friend said the roaches were really bad this year. He reports the number of roaches are down since he plugged in Riddex.
If you didn’t make it out of that trash bag, Big Fella, RIP.
Tonight I learned that cockroaches in Mexico can fly. There was one twice the size of Big Fella outside my apartment door buzzing awkwardly around the light. I let it be. After all, Gigantic Guy was outside…