My wife’s bat-hatred origin story

photo-4In the middle of the night we kept hearing a very high pitch, pinging, electronic noise. A sound that I can’t hear now because I am older. It reminded me of those fancy deer deterrent alarms I use to hear by the multi-million dollar mansions of Carmel Beach. Or one of those ringtones kids get and it’s a frequency the teacher can’t hear.

Half-awake half-asleep, it took a lot of this noise to get me all the way out of bed, mostly because my new husbandly duty was to explore noises like this. I could sleep right through it fine, but my wife could not. Happy wife, happy life—so I got up, saying, “I bet it’s the mini-fridge motor or TV.” But nope, after exploring all of the small appliances I narrowed down the location. Outside. Had to be an alarm.

On to the window for a peek. The windows. My wife’s least favorite part of our tropical hotel room. That’s because they weren’t so much windows as glass slats without screens that appeared to shut all of the way. But did they? Bugs, birds, and rodents—the natural enemies of my wife—were suspect to sneak in. Or so she thought. There were a lot of bugs outside, but none in our room. That meant the dubious windows were working and there was no bug in our room. And strangely, no mosquitoes anywhere, even outside.

Ever the midnight tactician, my wife gave the executive order to explore the vast balcony. Our hotel was build like a pyramid, and our balcony looked down a cascading stair of more balconies, on down to the beach.

I opened the door and stepped outside. Quiet and no alarm. But then, the alarm rings right behind me. Loudly. I turned, but the balcony light was off. I called to her and she flipped it and there they were, nesting, hanging upside down right in the top left corner of the eaves. Waiting for her. Chirping for her. They didn’t know they would be dealing with me.

I had to pass within two feet of them to reenter the room and I didn’t think this boded well for me, but I run and monkey leap and land almost on the bed yelling, “ShutthedoorShutitShutitShutitShutShut!” Startled, she slammed the door and I confirmed her worst rodent-bird fears. BATS. All her life, they had been hunting her, and now they had caught her. It was the second night of our Mexican honeymoon in Zihuatanejo, of Shawshank Redemption fame, and they were here to ruin it.

Earlier in the day, as we sat in the hotel bar at dusk, I commented on all the flocks of birds rising up into the air, flying in large groups. She pointed out that their shapes weren’t right. And now two of those shapes were using our balcony as a sonar station, pinging away at any little unfortunate bug or twenty-ish-old human.

I had to get them out and my first thought was getting a bathroom towel and whipcracking them into the afterlife, but I’d have to be outside to get the right angle. There was no way I was going to expose myself.

I needed something to throw, but everything was breakable or weak inside the room. I was going to have to settle for scaring them off. Quickly I grabbed a cup, filled it with water, and narrowly opened the door. I snaked my arm through and threw the contents in their general direction. SUCCESS! They took off in a leathery huff and I strutted and my wife was so proud she picked me. It took awhile to calm down from the victory, but we got back to sleep.

The next morning we dined high up in the breakfast room that had windows openings with no glass, more like sideways skylights, and she was concerned about the large iguana perched on a tree limb a few feet from the buffet. She had also noticed a sign warning hotel guests that since the hotel was in a “jungle” area there would be high interaction with the wildlife. Her preferred interaction was zero, so this lizard must be in league with the bats. He must be their daytime tag team partner.

We spent the rest of the day at the beach, reading and swimming and napping. We were not adventurous types to rent a car and explore ruins or go on a fishing boat to wrangle marlins. The bats and their lizard henchman were enough adventure for us.

But apparently, we weren’t enough of an adventure for them, because later that night the chirping began. I heard it, but didn’t move. Eventually, it woke her and I did move. My move. With the water. It was easier this time, but I was displeased that it was not a permanent solution. They returned two more times that night. Rinse and repeat. Toss water to defeat. They would come back every night, multiple times, for the rest of our trip. We got little sleep that week.

Then it got worse.

On the very last night a nearby hotel had a fireworks celebration until well past midnight. It was in a nearby cove and the echo sounded like they were exploding in our room. My wife broke into full-blown sobbing at this point, crying, “I want to go home. I want to go home.”

In response, we heard a chirp.

The next day we went home. The jungle had won.

Shaun Kempston lives in Washington state with his wife and two sons. His wife IS a midnight tactician, and employs Home Alone skill level in booby-trapping the house when Shaun is traveling. Follow him on the twitter for more stupid stories @shaun_says_this or read the published version of this story over at the Kitsap Sun.

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