How to survive a Brazilian country summer

Tillandsia in bloom
Summer rains bring summer flowers

Rules and procedures for surviving a Brazilian summer in the country:

• Upon awakening, before brushing your teeth, before making coffee, even before emerging from the layers of mosquito netting encasing your bed, REACH FOR THE MOSQUITO REPELLANT!

• Upon entering the bathroom, check the walls, ceiling, floor, and toilet for creepy crawlies of all kinds, including lizards, frogs, giant big headed ants, spiders, centipedes, beetles….

Wall lizard
They won’t jump on you, usually

•Re-apply mosquito repellant every 20 minutes until the sun is well below the horizon. Apply to feet, ankles, legs, knees (including behind the knees), waist, hands, arms, shoulders, neck, throat, chin, cheeks, forehead, temples, eye sockets, scalp. Next time you run out for conditioner to leave your hair fresh and bouncy, check to see if it comes with insect repellant.

• You don’t like wearing hats? Those little flies buzzing around your scalp like bare heads where they lay eggs that turn into maggots.

• Before dressing or putting on shoes, check all items of clothing for semi-giant spiders with giant fangs and errant drowsy beetles.

• Re-apply a little more repellant.

• When cooking or making coffee, keep all food items well covered at all times. Lizards scamper along the ceiling and rafters doing what comes naturally for lizards (dropping insect pieces, shedding skin, dropping tails, and raining droppings all over the place). What? You left your coffee sitting UNCOVERED on the table when you went to get that book?!? Those aren’t little clumps of undissolved powdered milk floating in your mug.

• There is no safe way to determine if that is a piece of slightly charred onion or a lizard dropping in your pasta other than to mash it with your fork and see if it separates.

• Do not eat guavas fresh off the tree at night. Do not eat ingá fresh off the tree at night. Fruits just aren’t meant to provide protein.

• Do not lie down on the ground at night. Giant hairy spiders roam the ground and are hungry, curious, fast, and smart.

He’s not poisonous!

• Do not tease the giant hairy spiders. They don’t like that and will throw spider hair at you.

• If you get up in the middle of the night (to go to the bathroom, get a drink of water, sit in front of the open refrigerator), do not walk barefoot. Junebugs, rhinoceros beetles, grasshoppers, giant hairy spiders, and big headed ants crunch and then squish most unpleasantly. (It is not a bad idea to keep a flashlight by your bedside to check the floor before walking to the light switch, to check the wall for giant hairy spiders before reaching for the light switch, and to check your slippers before sliding your feet into their dark murky interiors.

• Mosquito netting is your friend. It doesn’t really protect you from the tiny mosquitos that fly right through the mesh, but it works better than crosses and garlic to keep the vampire bats and giant hairy spiders away.

• Remember that at night a lit porch light (bathroom light, living room light, kitchen light) means RAVE for moths, beetles, grasshoppers, insomniac butterflies, frogs, lizards, bats, and giant hairy spiders. Things start out friendly enough but by 3 am its a gruesome sight. Try not to look until around 7 or so after the birds have cleaned everything up.

Moth with gilded wings
All dressed up for the rave!

• Before lighting the oven, rattle the pans around. It scares away the frogs.

Frog in an egg carton
He’s found a home.

• Remember, you are not a menu item for the frogs, snakes, and giant centipedes roaming throughout the house. They see you. Give them a chance and they will move out of your way.

• Everything is on the menu for the giant hairy spiders, and they also see you. Do not poke at them with sticks. Use a broom.

                       Welcome to Brazil!

Poisonous stinging caterpillars
They may look warm and fuzzy, but touch ’em and they’ll kill you.

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