There’s something you should know about me: I am absolutely terrified of spiders. All spiders. Even tiny ones. And not in a cute “hehe so scary kill it for me please” way, either. In like a “HOLY GOD THERE’S AN ARACHNID WITHIN FIFTY FEET OF ME SOMEONE GET A FLAMETHROWER” kind of way.
However, despite my deep desire to live in a world where there are no things with eight legs except siamese twin unicorns, I normally don’t kill them. They’re just trying to survive! This has resulted in many displeased family members and ex-boyfriends, who I made/pleaded/sold my soul for them to take my eight-legged enemies outside while I stood fifty feet away/in a different room/in a different room on a different story. You’re probably wondering why this is relevant.
Well my mahma bear and I were jauntily hiking up to a monastery in the sub-tropical part of Bhutan (it has a tropical part, a sub-tropical part, and the Himalayas. I guess you could say it has a diverse climate). We had been making our way up the hill for about twenty minutes, admiring the view……when we finally arrived at the dzong, aka temple. There was a little pavilion where the trail ended, and then there were steps leading around the corner to the temple courtyard. Everybody was stopped around the pavilion, casually talking, when I spotted them.
Spiders. Everywhere. Spiders everywhere. I lifted my eyes to the trees surrounding us. They were white with webs, sprinkled with especially large, especially long-legged spiders. I panicked. Like straight up panicked. I had to walk underneath the archway of death, under spider filled trees, and just hope that none of them jumped on me and bit me to death in the middle of nowhere in Southeast Asia. Gulp.
“You’re fine, sweetheart,” an older Southern man drawled at me. He must have noticed the small freakout I was having with my mom (“I am NOT going under that” “Oh Kels, you’re fine” “NO” “They’re just spiders” “Exactly”). I tentatively took a step forward. And then another one. Then I sped walked past the spiders, eyes wide and fearful and starting to unwillingly fill with tears (seriously, that’s a little embarrassing, get your sh!t together Kelsey), until I was all the way past the spiders and in the courtyard of the dzong. Somehow, I survived.That wasn’t the worst encounter with insects we had that day though. I was shaky and a little caught off balance from being surrounded by my worst fear (nature’s little way of saying “Surprise Dorothy YOU’RE NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE”), but after running into a few of our tourist friends at the temple and listening to the stories of famous Buddhists for fifteen minutes, I was starting to calm down. We made it to the top of the temple, about four stories up, and reflected on the view. There was a hummingbird flitting around, the sun was shining, and the view was gorgeous.
Then we noticed the buzzing sound.
Oh….that wasn’t a hummingbird starting to circle Debbie. That was a giant bee the size of a small bird.*
We watched as she attempted to move away from it, but it kept following her and her bright blue shirt. Our guides told her to relax. They seemed pretty at ease, but my mahma bear the nurse was concerned (as was everyone else–literally, things with stingers shouldn’t be allowed to be that big), so she asked our guides if they knew what the insect was. They didn’t know. My mom asked if they were dangerous. “Oh yes,” Tsering, our guide, said. “You go to hospital if they sting you. Hurt very, very bad.” Joy.
“Oh no no no no no,” I said, and scooted around the temple. The bee demon followed. I shoved some tourists out of the way dramatically (okay fine not really) and basically sprinted down two flights of stairs. It wasn’t until I had scared fifty other tourists and hid behind the statue of a demi-god that I realized I was no longer being followed by the death-bee. Phew.
Then, to cap it all off, there was a giant beetle the size of my hand by our shoes.
Luckily, the rest of the day made up for the gigantic species of insects that inhabit the sub-tropical parts of Bhutan. We went rafting… and ate the best dinner. Per usual. Bhutan food is the best food, period. Upon reflection, I guess bugs are just part of expanding comfort zones. Even if they are giant. Except spiders. Spiders are the worst.
What’s next? More about our friends Ed and Debby and what a small world it is, and a temple dedicated to the Divine Madman and covered in….phalluses. Stay tuned. *When we got back to the States, with a safe ocean between us and the offending bee, we googled it. HOLY SHIT