Living in the Jungle
As I put my two children to bed in our jungle farm house high in the hills above the little village of San Juan del Sur, in Nicaragua, I reassured them that the hundreds of hatching ants on their curtains were just part of natures miracle and we were lucky to witness it. Meanwhile I was being ferociously bitten by one lodged between my toes and another who’d found its way into my armpit. I smiled at the children, holding back my swear words, and pulled the two critters from their biting places wondering to myself why we’d moved into a house with no screens on the doors or windows.
After the children were settled with mosquito nets carefully tucked in around them I walked outside and paused. The magnificent starlit sky held me still and for a moment I thought I witnessed a shooting star only to realize it was one of natures finest – a lightning bug. The crickets were singing, and bats and lizards were each making their distinct chirps. I began to think of the book I’m writing. The book that has not had my attention for months as we’ve navigated travelling the world on an extended summer break – and for the first time in a long while I realized I’m in a place so magical and wild it’s time to get back to writing - that living in this place of monkeys and lizards and bats in the stairwell, scorpions, giant stag beetles and cockroaches - is a place good for my imagination.
My imagination and my story telling need equal doses of beautiful and ugly. I don’t need dark and depressing – not that kind of ugly – but I do need the big black beetles and the menacing wasps and the biting ants as much as I need the parrots and jaw dropping views of ocean and hills and the scent of orange blossom. The strange and ugly and less convenient creatures help me imagine in to the dark side of the story as much as the wide star lit sky broadens my thinking to hold lighter, sweeter things.
Later I walked slowly upstairs to take my weary self to bed to discover my bedroom was home to a different kind of hatching – large hornet like creatures with menacingly long bodies and sleek wings and a big stinger. I opened the bedroom door wide and shooed a few away before carefully tucking in my own mosquito net and slipping under it to safety.