“Ron!” I yelled, “An owl passed out on our kitchen counter. What should I do?” It was late at night and Ron was sound asleep, while I was checking Facebook. Stunned and dazed, the little screech owl stared at me, unable to move anything except his big, moon-shaped eyes. Stunned and dazed, Ron came to our rescue. He gently lifted the little intruder and we checked him or her (How do you identify the sex of an owl?) for broken wings, abrasions, and head wounds. All appeared to be in working order, but then again, we are not vets, nor accustomed to owls dropping in or making house calls in the middle of the night.
Ron carried the dazed and confused owl outside. He tried to perch him on the homemade ladder leaning against the back of our house. The poor little fellow fell off the perch and plopped to the ground with a barely audible ‘thud’ cushioned by downy feathers. After much discussion on the best way to position an injured owl, we decided to prop him up on the ground leaning against the back wall of the house.
Returning to the scene of the accident, we noticed a cloud of downy feathers swirling around the ceiling fan in the kitchen. Tropical living is an open-air concept. We find it impossible to screen out all of the intruders, so we have learned to live with Jungle Law: Nothing is sacred. Nothing is out-of-bounds. The evidence led us to surmise that the screech owl flew into the ceiling fan.
Meanwhile, back at the temporary owl hospital under the ladder, we found a large toad guarding the screech owl. Our dazed house guest appeared to be more alert. He was shaking his wings and twirling his head around in an Exorcist kind of way. To me, that seemed like progress!
Fifteen minutes later, our dazed and confused intruder had totally recovered. He flew off silently into the moon shadows, while his new toad friend hopped after him. I love a happy ending.
November 5, 2004
After four months of tropical living, I am beginning to understand the laws of the jungle. Attempting to live a high tech lifestyle in a low-tech world has inundated us with many challenges. Sometimes, I wonder if it’s worth the effort because it’s a never ending battle that requires persistence, awareness, patience, and constant vigilance.
My laptop contains the story of my life. Stored within its microchips are hundreds of photos, quick time videos, power point English lessons, daily journals, important documents, and my future book. It is our source of entertainment with games, music, and pirated DVD movies.
I have taken all the necessary precautions including: surge protectors from frequent power outages, a dry place under our tiled roof, and a safe hiding place when we are gone (It was difficult because our house has no hiding places, but I am a master of ingenuity). I have backed up CDs of all my programs, photos, and documents. However, I didn’t take into account the first law of the jungle: Nothing is sacred.
We have a big rat living in the peak of our tiled roof. We’ve set traps, but the rat doesn’t enter our house. She lives under the tile and occasionally pokes her head out of the tiles to see what’s happening in the high tech world below her. My laptop sits directly under her home and she has no flush toilet. The other day I was typing away, when the rat had to go to the bathroom. I know what you are thinking and you are right. I don’t think Dell computer technicians took into account the first law of the jungle in designing computers. When you gotta go, you gotta go.
I can laugh about it now, because after cleaning the rat pee and poop out of the keyboard, moving it away from her outhouse (which is really an in-house), and frantically unplugging everything, my laptop did not suffer any damage. (Do you think Dell would buy my story for their next advertisement? “Even rat pee won’t stop a Dell.”) In reconnecting the cords to the surge protector, I discovered the next horrifying example of jungle law. There was an army of small ants marching purposefully into the electrical outlets in the surge protector. Unscrewing the back of it, I stared in amazement at a colony of thousands of ants frantically moving their eggs to safety. I was confounded because I had previously duct taped every little hole where ants could enter.
This was WAR!!! I frantically cleaned, scraped, picked, and murdered thousands of ants scurrying for safety. I also discovered that I have an allergic reaction to ant bites because my skin swelled with little mountains of itchy bites. I removed everything from my makeshift computer table (It’s really our bedroom door that Ron took off the hinges and screwed into the wall of the living room.). I sprayed everything in sight: the walls, the windows, the floor, the tablecloth, everything that could survive the onslaught of Raid, and then scrubbed the walls and floor with a strong solution of bleach.
I moved our two-day-old TV to a higher perch (We finally broke down and bought a TV because we need more practice listening to Spanish…another chapter about Nicaraguan TV) and the ants had already invaded it. Nothing was sacred and nothing was beyond my devilish slaughter. I won the battle…but time will tell if it is only a temporary reprieve from this terrorist attack. We’re on high alert, code orange in our little Nicaraguan beach house. It’s a jungle in here…one requiring persistence, patience, awareness, and constant vigilance.