Still feeling a bit shaky after a Mexican standoff that violently ended nine small lives here in my studio apartment in Vallarta...no use trying to carve leaves right now so I may as well recount the story for you.
About 2 weeks ago, I noticed a small group of large paper wasps crowded together on my curtain rod. Having never been a fan of wasps, I was uneasy to say the least (especially since the rod is the closest one to my bed), but i already have two different groups of ants on cleanup duty in my place, and the wasps didn't seem to be affected by my presence. My childhood fascination for insects took over, and an uneasy truce began. They were always in one place near the screenless portion of my window, never flying in the apartment or seemingly anywhere for that matter, and I in turn took care not to reach up towards them.
I found myself wondering what they could be communicating to eachother. Why didn't they seem to be eating or building a nest, disturbed by my presence, or basically acting the way I grew up knowing wasps to be? I became quite at ease with them, and began to think idealistic thoughts about what a great coexistence among species was occurring in my apartment.
Tonight I came home and noticed that they had in fact begun building a little nest. Although I wasn't thrilled about it, I decided that unless they broke the "deal" of our boundaries and strayed from their little corner I would continue to study them, rather than plot their demise.
I was taking a break from my leaf carving at about midnight and was standing near my stairs when suddenly, I saw a horrific vision from the corner of my eye. The whole group of wasps had taken flight in my apartment and my brain screamed "FLEE, YOU FOOL!" The next thing I knew I was cowering at my entrance, peering with terror around the corner. They were not attacking, rather flying lazily around the room. After a moment they landed in what looked to be strategic positions around the room. I suppose they had come to an agreement that now was the time to claim my apartment, much in the way I had with them. I inched my way back down the stairs and sat slowly on my bed, miserably aware of their effortless victory.
I gently lifted the phone up to my ear and called my chico down the street. He basically repeated what my brain had said, but I was not willing to accept defeat. The wasps all seemed to be still, watching and waiting from their many locations for me to make my next move. I grabbed the only thing I could think of within reach, my hair mousse, and with holding it in front of me like bear spray, slowly began to walk towards my leaf. I mean slowly as in a step every 30 seconds. I made it past the first two sentinels without them moving, and was almost to my goal when the wasp above the leaf flew down towards me. There was a frantic, useless spray of foam, the sound of a can hitting the floor and like lightning I was back to the entrance.
Luckily my landlord has a burger stand attached to my apartment and when I exclaimed (partly using Spanish and partly performing a poor imitation of angry wasps) my situation he said, "Oh, well let's kill them then." He grabbed a broom and walked calmly into my kitchen, carefully smacking and killing one after another. I was shocked at how unorganized and slow they seemed to be. It turns out they can't see well at night and are sluggish. Once I saw that, I took over the job and proceeded to kill the remaining four, sweeping their bodies towards the middle of the kitchen floor. Although there was a sense of victory and relief, there was also disappointment in not having achieved harmony with the nature in my household.
A few minutes after the last one had died, I carefully placed a wasp on my carving table and dissected the stinger and venom glands. Judging by their size, my landlord was correct when he told me that they were among the worst kinds to get stung by. I was still studying it closely when I noticed that the rest were moving slowly along the floor. My heart leaped in sheer terror, followed by a flush of embarrassed relief, as I realized that my faithful little ant housekeepers were carrying the bodies away. There was an air of celebration among the giant group that had formed, working enthusiastically like little townspeople about to carry the heads of slain dragons back to their village.
I, for one, have given them my applause and shall retire to my bed chamber, having successfully reclaimed my kingdom. However, my sleep may be a bit light as I would fully respect a vengeful act of martyrdom from any survivor I may have overlooked!