Jennifer A. Chin (cswallow) wrote,
Jennifer A. Chin

Noloholo, Days 52-53: Spider Wars

Ever since we moved into our tents, we’ve been using an outdoor bathroom, which is basically a pit-toilet with four walls and a pointy roof made out of green canvas. There are good corners to hide and build webs in, but most of all, there is a large abundance of food in the form of flies. This little world is an arachnologist’s dream. Now, identifying spiders is almost impossible, aside from the famously marked ones (Daddy Long-legs, Black Widow) but I am convinced we have at least 5 different species. Some internet research has shown that there is an entire website dedicated to people posting photos of spiders they have found (including descriptions like “I found this one while sitting in my bed with no pants on, drinking a beer” or “I put a 9” pie dish over this lovely critter until my husband could come to the rescue”), in the hopes that a knowledgeable enthusiast or professional will come along and identify it.

The main species is a sort of daddy long-legs, with a small body and long skinny legs. There’s probably 6-7 of them at any given time in each corner, climbing in and out of each other’s way. But the truly epic battles are waged between the larger – ones with hefty bodies, black mouthy parts, and various eye structures. Last night, in the pitch of darkness, two of them clung to each other, battling for supremacy – one of them a hoary gray, the other a leggy yellow. When I arrived back the next day, the yellow was strung like a hanged man, its legs dangling uselessly. We did, for a little while, have a smaller beige trapdoor spider. The next day, it too had disappeared, and the big grey lurked in its web.

These are the lives I follow out here, the battles nature wages on itself in the most microscopic ways. I return to the crime scene again and again, and watch the tiny lives play out, the husks accumulate while the giants grow ever larger. When I head to my tent at night, I see the eyeshine of little wolfish ground spider, sparkling at me like crystals in the grass. A jumping spider visits me in my tent again, this one is yellow and curious, and I just leave him. Trying to keep them out is an exercise in meticulousness and ostracism; I’ll not partake any longer. Leave me here long enough and I’ll become part of the bush, too, the trees growing upward through the floor of my tent, the spiders carelessly devouring ants in a corner, and a praying mantis snatching moths overhead.
Tags: travel - tanzania
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