Lemurs & Leeches
I went to Madagascar with my family for a week. Amazing experience. Beautiful country. And no, we didn’t meet King Julian of movie fame (the awesomely obnoxious lemur from the animated movie Madagascar).
But we did meet some lemurs up close and personal. And boy, do those creatures like to move it, move it! They can certainly leap around. A few even landed on our shoulders (true story).
We also encountered another jungle resident. Leeches.
Insect vampires about the size of an inch worm. Except not as cute or cuddly or slow. Oh, and here’s a fun fact: jungle leeches can move FAST. They aren’t inching along, that’s for sure.
I’ll wait for you to make a mental note of that fact.
So there we were – husband, daughter and me – hiking through a national park. Minding our own business. Taking only photos. Leaving only footprints and a banana peel.
My daughter screamed.
A leech had landed on her hand.
Before we could act, react or run in the opposite direction, she scraped her hand against a tree trunk. A few attempts dislodged the little bloodsucker.
Disaster averted. Until…
I casually rubbed my hand against the back of my neck.
You know that moment when you realize something nasty? Like you just stepped in fresh dog poop with your brand new shoes on the way to a wedding. Or the electricity cut before you finished boiling water for your morning tea.
Yeah. That feeling.
My fingers brushed against an inch-length, worm-like creature. The leech took the hint and immediately leaped onto my hand.
I yanked my hand forward and began shouting, “Leech! Leech!” The word echoed through the jungle as I flicked my hand and tried to brush the disgusting little insect off me.
Remember that factoid about how speedy those suckers are?
It dodged my efforts and wove in between my fingers faster than my eyes could track. (I’ll pause here to let you shudder in fascinated horror.)
My husband shouted at me to come down the path so the guide could help me. The guide was crashing through the underbrush to try to reach me. My daughter was jumping up and down in shared disgust and terror, hopefully crushing other leeches under her boots.
I began hitting my hand against a tree trunk. No way was I walking down the path. Because I knew the minute I stopped pummeling my hand, the leech was going to sink its little fangs into my skin. And I’d take a bruise over a bite any day.
The guide came into view.
The leech paused in its mad dash around my hand.
I took the opportunity to scrape my hand against the tree. The rough bark must’ve snagged the leech. Or maybe the critter got tired. Don’t know. Don’t care. As long as that sucker was off me, I was good. Traumatized. But good.
I compulsively checked my neck and hairline for any other unwanted guests. I made my daughter and the guide check as well. Then I pulled the hood of my rain jacket over my head and tightened the drawstrings.
We continued to hike. Humidity and heat increased. That jacket stayed on, fully zipped up. No way was I exposing any more of my skin than absolutely necessary.
Apart from that, it was a great trip! Here’s a few more photos for your viewing pleasure.