Scorpion Alert!

Scorpions are one of those critters that are said to be able to survive even a nuclear holocaust. That might be so, but they aren’t any competition for me.

I just walked out into the hall and found my first one inside the guesthouse. Another colleague found one in her room a few weeks ago. I saw one on the front drive coming home a week ago as well.

I left the one in the drive alone; outside is good enough for me. This one tonight met its fate with the sole of my boot. My favorite tool of choice before would be either my platform sandal, with a nice thick sole of protection, or my wooden spoon for those hard to reach ones.

Back as a Peace Corps Volunteer I had a scorpion infestation. I killed nearly two hundred, in and around my house, before one finally stung me. I rolled over in bed and was stung on my upper left back, just behind my heart.

It was the most painful experience of my life. Trying to contact my sobs, I made my way into the village; all the while feeling the piercing pain that felt akin to a heart attack. As luck would have it, the time was just past midnight and there was no vehicle to be found. I hung out and waited a bit in hopes of a car; to no avail.

The villagers tried to get me to do all sorts of local treatments that I wasn’t having anything to do with. When I started having scorpions sightings they told me that they had some potion that would allow scorpions to walk all over me without stinging. The idea of scorpions crawling on me, with or without stinging, didn’t have much appeal. The wonder drug was off the table for sure when they told me that all I had to do was take a knife, open up a vein, and dump some powder in. I said that I’d take my chances with a scorpion first. To appease their worries I did eat a head of raw garlic after their persuasion. I figured that it wouldn’t kill me, would appease them, and might even distract me from the pain.

Eventually I went back to my place and tried to sleep, but didn’t get a wink. I was out waiting for a car to Accra at five am. By the time I made it to the medical unit, hours later, it merely felt like a cigar was being put out in my back; not nearly as painful as it had been. At least I knew I would survive.

By the next day my fellow PCVs confided that they couldn’t imagine me being in more pain earlier, as I looked like death warmed over when I showed up. Luckily they were nice enough to keep this to themselves at first.

As a side note: I always found it interesting how scorpion season in Ghana coincided with the rising of Scorpio in the Western sky. Scorpions are more likely to come out in the rainy season, as they try to find dry places; as does the constellation Scorpio. When Scorpio once again settled below the Eastern horizon it was unlikely to find a scorpion without hunting one down.

All this to say that I’ll be checking my shoes a bit more carefully now. I will also call for the big guns before my count gets too high.

Wish me luck!


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