"The constant creeping of ants will wear away the stone." –unknown
"Be thine enemy an ant, see in him an elephant."
My last day in Corvallis before leaving for D.C. for staging was a stress-ridden marathon of chores. Imagine all of the “last minute” things you might be running around to do as you prepare to leave home for awhile--and then imagine for two years.
One thing I made sure to do was pick up a muffin for breakfast the next morning. Not just any muffin—a lemon poppy seed muffin from the gluten-free bakery downtown. In all of the billions of things I had to do, I had the foresight that this may very well be the last chance I had to get a good gf muffin. Also, we had to leave early in the morning in order to get to Portland in time and say my goodbyes to family. It simply was the best “on-the-go” breakfast I could think of as my last send-off from the fair city.
After a tireless night of Justin and I packing, weighing, and re-packing my entire luggage, and also partaking in our “last supper” together (filet mignon with steamed asparagus and baby red potatoes in butter and basil) we woke up terribly early and packed the last items into the car. I came back into the house to grab the muffin and before I even reached the kitchen I heard Justin’s voice,
It didn’t sound good.
Justin held up my muffin and it was completely covered in ants. Swallowed by them, really.
“Oh no!” I echoed Justin. I gasped as I watched him drop the muffin into the trash.
“It’s absolutely covered. I’m sorry,” he said like a TV doctor delivering terrible news.
It was too early to get another gf muffin, and we had to go. I had to figure something else out, and forget about the muffin.
That muffin haunts me. If I could go back in time, I would eat the muffin regardless of its condition. I would’ve wiped those damn ants away and eaten it with it’s pockmarked exterior and possible stragglers.
If only I knew what lie ahead. If only I could glimpse the person I would become, then I would never have let those ants conquer my last simple breakfast convenience that I can no longer enjoy.
Cause lets face it—my life is surrounded by ants.
From my first days in site I have had to come to terms with the overwhelming number of ants. They climb the walls, sneak up on the tables, crawl along the furniture—they are everywhere. While standing in the kitchen fixing breakfast, I have to withstand the tickling, itching torture that is ants crawling all over my feet. For a couple weeks I worried that I had lice because I suddenly had an extremely itchy scalp that drove me mad. When told how to check for lice, I took a fine-tooth comb and brushed my hair hard over a white piece of paper. Ants came out. Even after I had showered and washed them away, I had sat on the same chair where they crawled right back up in my hair unbeknownst to me. Now I know.
If my skin itches, feeling as though it’s crawling with ants, it probably is. If I drink a cup of water and leave the cup on my desk, within hours my desk is covered and the glass is full--of ants, that is.
I have had ants. In. My. Pants.
The ants that rule my house are not the ants I’m used to from home. They are really small, and so light brown they are almost translucent. They get caught in my arm hairs, they crawl in the cracks of my computer, and sometimes I can’t see them traveling along the walls unless they are in packs. And by that point, it’s already too late.
At first I tried fighting them, cleaning the walls where they made their usual journey, constantly wiping down my desk. But I soon found out it was an uphill battle. Ants are in every room of my house. So I let them walk their little path around my desk and try to keep away any temptations to make them crawl around in my paperwork. Sometimes I’m forgetful though. I once left a piece of homemade gf carrot cake on my desk, took a nap, and upon waking sleepily took a big bite out of it only to discover I had eaten at least 20 ants (judging by the amount of ants on the rest of the cake and crawling on my hand). At other times I have shown up to lunch late, only to find my food and plate covered by ants. My host mom’s solution? Put it in the microwave (yes, I have a microwave) and heat it up for 30 seconds or so. This is the most bizarre fix, as I have no idea where the ants go. Do they die in my food? Do they run away? Do they combust?
My point being, if I lived as I did back in the U.S.-- discarding food just because it had ants crawling on it--then I would not get a lot to eat. Or drink. But, hindsight is 20/20.
|I wonder whose FMPCL (F My Peace Corps Life) post this could be? I wonder...|
The ants and I don’t have the most harmonious relationship, but I feel I understand them better, and I more or less let them roam as they may. However, I know their little trek they continuously crawl around my desk enough that when they divert from it, I know something is up.
Just a couple days ago I was sitting at my desk when I leaned against the wall next to me and realized I was getting a lot of ants on me. When I sat back up straight I saw I had leaned right into a path of ants. I thought it was strange, as they usually don’t crawl along in that direction, but I didn’t do anything about it.
An hour later, I noticed the line of ants crawling this new path had increased in number.
“This can’t be good,” I thought, but when looking along the wall further on it became harder to find the line (remember, they’re little guys) so I let it go.
Finally the end of the night had come and the path of ants was continuing on strong and they were practically sprinting, their determination obvious in their frantic gate. Once again, not being able to find their destination, I made myself not think of it and ignored the ominous sign that I was about to run into trouble somewhere in my room.
The day before I had gotten back in the afternoon from a weekend in my regional capital, where I had gone to a regional meeting and spent time with volunteer friends celebrating my birthday. So in my laziness upon returning quite a few things were scattered around my room and on the floor.
I have a small pad and blanket in the corner of my room that I sit on to read or practice guitar, or just use as a laundry pile. I started putting clothes and other things away that I had dumped out of my backpack, when I got to the bottom of the pile and…
…I found the ants.
I have a drawstring bag that I use when I’m walking around town and I had accidentally left a banana in it, and then absentmindedly thrown it on my pad along with my clothes.
There were enough ants on top of the bag that I could’ve dumped them in a cereal bowl and filled it.
So, as calmly as I could, I picked up the bag (level, so as to not spill the ants) so I could dispose of the ants in the sink and then wash off the bag. Once I lifted up the bag I discovered just as many ants, if not more, on top of a plastic bag that had thankfully been underneath.
So, after drowning a ton of ants, I came back to my room, found another plastic bag, and shoved everything shrouded with ants into it (along with the banana). I tied the bag tight and threw it away, hoping if they found a way out they would at least be far away from me.
I shook out the blanket, wiped down the walls, and called it good. Within a couple hours the ants stopped their trek along that part of the wall, as they had come to find there were no tasty treats at the end of their journey.
And still today, order has returned to Amanda’s room and the ant kingdom.
In the mean time, I lament the forsaken muffin, thrown away for terrible reasons. In the very least, I can say I have grown as a person to no longer take for granted those things that were once so easy to come by, but now are impossible to reach. Especially because of an ant (or 100).
I'll now leave you with a long video made by my "site mate" Zack at Early In Service Training, demonstrating the power of ants. You don't have to watch all 8 minutes of us sounding like huge dorks and my incessant use of the word "like" (thus proving I best express myself in writing and can sound downright dumb when speaking) but...it did take me hours to upload, so at least give it a peek.