You may not believe me when I say that when people talked about cockroaches, I thought they were talking about little nuisance bugs (with the emphasis on little). Part of the education I received in Brazil was an introduction to the real deal--The Cockroach. Arrrgh!
Now when people talk about cockroaches, I can nod my head and sympathize completely. Here I share my major encounters with this big (emphasis on big) pest:
I met a cockroach for the first time at the mission office. I always thought cockroaches were little nuisance bugs that got in your cupboards and generally made life miserable. Well, I saw for myself firsthand that cockroaches are pretty big and quite ugly and very fast. This cockroach scuttled out from behind one of the desks, but as soon as he knew someone was after him, he took off. President Urry finally found his hiding place, chased him out and dispatched him.
If I hadn’t seen that first cockroach, I wouldn’t have realized that the big, ugly thing that I spotted in our courtyard was a cockroach. I quickly found a rolled up newspaper and though he was fast, I caught up with him and smacked him until I was sure he wasn’t going anywhere. I noticed a couple of other dead cockroaches at the same time.
Finding them in the courtyard was bad enough, but then I met one in our apartment (shudder). I got up in the night to make a trip to the bathroom. In the pale glow of the nightlight, I could see a fairly large dark object on the floor in front of the bathroom sink. I wondered if Elder Gross had inadvertently dropped something, but I felt a need to be very cautious. I stood in the doorway trying to decide what it was and what I was going to do. I finally turned the hall light on and could see the ugly thing just sitting there. Three times the thought came to me to just stomp on it, but three times everything inside me said an emphatic “no!” I hated to let it out of my sight, but finally bolted down the hall to the kitchen and found the can of RAID. When I got back to the bathroom, I was grateful to see that it had not moved. However, the minute I sprayed it, Mr. Cockroach took off like lightening disappearing behind the door and I squealed in shock and surprise.
I quickly turned the bathroom light on and gingerly swung the door back to reveal that he had climbed halfway up the corner of the wall, so I sprayed him again and again. My, they are fast, but he was suffering the effects of the spray and did not go far before he was on his back. And where was Elder Gross, you might ask—well, he slept through the whole ordeal.
The next day was P-day for us so we purchased a package of six RAID traps. We put several out in the courtyard, one in the storage room just off the courtyard, one in the bathroom and one in the kitchen. The cockroach is supposed to be drawn to this trap, walk through it and pick up the poison, then carry it back to infect the nest. They last for three months, and since we put them out, we have discovered only one dead cockroach in the courtyard. Hopefully he carried the stuff back to the nest before he expired.
My next encounter with a cockroach was at the office on Transfer Day. There were missionaries all around and the energy was high. I was busy working with the files. I noticed that someone had left a cookie crumb behind, balanced precariously on the papers of one file (I wonder which Elder it was who did that). I got rid of the evidence and proceeded to take the papers out of the file folder. I was shuffling the papers to straighten them, when something hit my hand and then hit the floor. To my absolute horror, I saw that it was a cockroach. The papers landed on the floor, I had a little squealing attack, and the Elders who were in the office had a good laugh. Then they tried to find it and destroy it, but alas it got away. One Elder made me feel better when he said he had “injured” it. Therefore, I could picture it laying somewhere on its back and thus be able to work without feeling too buggy. A few days later, we walked into the empty, silent office and spotted one lurking in the corner. We were able to get rid of it; whether it was the same one or his buddy I’ll never know.
When we first arrived in Brazil, President Urry warned us not to leave any food out, EVER. He even told us that he wouldn’t use a drinking glass left out from the night before. He explained that bugs (especially cockroaches) carry disease and can sicken someone if they crawl around on your food, or toothbrush, or glass, etc. All I could think of was that it had landed momentarily in my hand on its way to the floor. Ewwwwww!!!
The funniest picture that I have of cockroaches is one I never actually witnessed--just heard about. Some of the Elders related to me that one of the more adventurous Elders applied glue to the backs of two cockroaches and then turned them loose. They would each battle to put their feet to the floor to make their getaway. So first one cockroach, and then the other would overcome to be the runner. I can't even imagine how he could manage to apply the glue except to actually touch them. I've also wondered whatever happened to the two hapless cockroaches, but it still strikes me funny to imagine how they looked in their mad dash.