The wolf spider is found all over the world. It does not build any kind of web because it is a hunting spider. It has fangs and speed to hunt down and kill its prey. It has hairy legs and it is two inches from my slip-ons. Last night I’d had to fumble in the dark for my shoes. I swallow hard and try not to shudder.
The spider remains frozen too, rearing up. Its eight eyes holding my two. Its poisonous fangs are poised and ready to strike. No one dared blink. The spider is mesmerised, and while I hold the teeny little beam rock steady, at least he is immobile. What you do not want is a very fast furry spider hiding under your bed, or maybe jumping onto your flimsy summer pyjamas. The minutes pass and my mind is racing. I HAVE to deal with this. I could escape the room: and spend the night outside on the hammock with every other nocturnal creature in the Central Belizean forest – no. This is my room. Could I frighten it out - it had the upper hand on that one. Shout for help? Maybe the nice young American would hear me. But I didn’t think that would go down too well.
It was him or me. Holding both my torch and my breath very, very steady, I painstakingly inch my way down the bed to reach my brand new walking boots. This was a battle of nerve. One false move and he’ll disappear who know where. Our gaze did not break for one second. Gingerly, I felt for my boot. Please, please let there be no more spiders hanging around. Don't think. Just feel. Finally in the dark, managing not to fall off the bed, a shoelace. Carefully I gather it around my fingers, and gently, gently, pull it back up onto the bed. I held my breath, I held him, and in slow motion I raised the boot into the dark behind my head as high as it would go. I knew there was no second chance. With rising revulsion and sinking heart, I slammed it down as hard as I possibly could.
It’s perfectly possible to shudder for three or four hours after even a very mild incident with a spider, but I couldn’t indulge. My little torch was now my only friend. Ice cold, I agonizingly tip-toed up the stony little path avoiding all tarantulas. Finally, the tiny guiding courtesy glow at the very top. Choosing between two little wooden doors, I reached out to open the simple wooden latch on the jungle latrine. Yet again I froze. Oh God. Sitting parallel on the handle, hard and shiny, tail reared up and ready to strike, I was within whisker of twisting open a black scorpion.
Nerve completely gone, my five-octave scream echoed down the valley and melted into the impenetrable blackness. No one came, and in truth I didn't need saving. The worst was over and I can't really remember much more than eventually I was back in bed. A 6-inch stick insect was lurching purposefully towards me as I turned off the torch. The new me shrugged and fell asleep.
Stuffed pumpkin: This has been my new rave lately, stuffed veggies. Red pepper, tomatoes, but best of all, pumpkins. This one has been stuffed with puy lentils, but brown rice is good too. Cut the top off a small pumpkin, and scrape out the seeds. Fill the pumpkin with a nice tasty lentil mix. For this I fried up chopped bacon, plenty onions, garlic, stock. Add a large cup of lentils, curry paste would be good too. Then of course any vegetables like chopped de-seeded tomatoes, or red pepper. Cover well with water and cook gently for 30 minutes or so.
Put the top back onto the pumpkin and bake for a good hour. The pumpkin must be well cooked and in a state of collapse. Like it's just seen a wolf spider, say.