The evening was all going well. Katie and I were finished working for the night and had just finished watching half of Harry Potter. The night was calm and the only critters to be seen were a couple of lizards in the bathroom and a mouse dashing around the periphery of the bedroom. We had even commented the day before that there weren’t really any mosquitos.
And then I saw it. Less than half a foot from the leg of my chair (where I had been sitting in BARE FEET for the last hour) was a large black scorpion. I turned around on my bed and shone my light in its direction. It lay there so inconspicuously and motionlessly that I was sure that my imagination was running away with me.
Then, even in the dim room, I made out the claws and scaly body. It was big. It was larger than the full size of my hand (fingers included), when counting the tail. Its body was thick and it claws made its front end at least an inch and a half wide. Its claws, since we are discussing them, were arguably the biggest part of its body with the kind of pinchers you really only see in Indiana Jones movies. It was dark and from the other side of the room, Katie could not really make it out. She was convinced it was some sort of wrapper. I was convinced otherwise.
I threw a shoe at it. It didn’t move. Katie insisted it was a wrapper. From my side of the room, I could see better. It was definitely not a wrapper. I threw another shoe, it moved enough for Katie to finally see the shape of a full-blown scorpion.
We were both freaking out at this point. Paralyzed in our beds, we really had no idea what to do. Finally, we agreed that we needed to kill it. We figured scorpions were probably common in Ghana, and we didn’t want to be the sissy volunteers from America that couldn’t kill it on our own. I grabbed my Birkenstock and, well, I think this video can best show what happens next.
Obviously, my attempt at killing the scorpion failed. I still wonder what the house mothers sometimes think of us/what we do in our room, because we were screaming pretty loud and no one really questioned what was happening or came to see what was going on. Anyways, it hissed at me (okay I didn’t actually hear it hiss, but I imagine it did) and raised its tail stinger (this it actually did). It retreated into the corner behind my desk. We couldn’t reach it, but we also couldn’t leave it there either.
It was time to call in for support. I carefully moved towards the front door to go get one of the house mothers. One problem: we generally do not leave our room at night because a swarm of wasps accumulate around the light outside. Feeling trapped by the wasps on one side of the room and the scorpion on the other, I skittered around the scorpion corner and went out back to knock on the house mothers’ door.
Luckily, Comfort answered, and after a couple minutes of back and forth as to what was actually going on, she instructed me to go down and get the security guard from downstairs. Apparently this is not actually a run-of-the-mill critter intrusion. He responded very promptly with a large broom in tow.
The battle ensued. Six or seven large strikes later with the broom – Katie, the house mothers, and I all looking on – the scorpion was dead.
Now, apparently, it was time to burn the body.
Yes, you read that right. Burn. The. Body. Apparently, if you just let a dead scorpion hang around in a house or outside, the smell will attract all manner of critters: reptiles and insects alike.
The security guard and one of the house mothers took care of that, while the rest of us continued to discuss the story for a little while longer. Like I said, this was apparently not a usual occurrence, only happening about once a year. They told me that a volunteer found a scorpion just outside our room last year as well. This was not helping sooth my wild thoughts that there was a scorpion nest in our room somewhere.
I returned to my room to embark on what I was sure was to be a sleepless night. As I sat down at Katie’s desk (mine was still too close to the incident to be comfortable), a mouse ran across my path. I almost jumped out of my skin.
Yep, sleeping was not going to be a thing.