So, excuse the lag in posts to a very time-consuming but fun and exciting new Urban Gardening project in Nagarote – a post on that is promised soon!
Meanwhile, about a week ago one of my greatest fears since arriving in Nicaragua over 2 1/2 years ago came to pass. I have seen several scorpions, alacranes, in various places here in León and out in the campo but have been lucky enough to avoid physicial contact. In every previous encounter, there was a helpful calm Nicaraguan nearby who could chuckle at my alarm and even-paler chela face while calmly smushing the scorpion with a stick or a shoe. In one instance I begged a ten-year old boy to help me, and he happily climbed up into the bunkbed in the room where I was staying and skillfully sliced the three-inch scorpion on the wall in two, saving me from a night of sleepless horror.
This time I was not so lucky. Completely unknowingly I pulled a cardboard box out from under a deesk where it was stored and lept back as I felt a jolt so strong my whole arm felt electrocuted. I thought for a minute I had hit an exposed electical cord, but the pain didn’t dissapate immediately like it does when you accidentally touch a charged wire. There was absolutely no mark on my hand as evidence of the attack, but when my Nica friend Maria Jose who happened to be over at the time lifted the top of the cardboard box with a broomstick, there was the cowardly scorpion, under the top flap. Meanwhile, my hand was pulsing. The pain was definitely strongest in the tip of my middle finger, where the stinger must have struck me, but I could feel a fuzzy electric-like pain up into my elbow joint.
I’ll admit I did not react very calmly. I can only imagine what the neighbors thought as I stomped and yelled, alternately shaking my hand and squeezing my poor throbbing finger. I called Nick, while Maria Jose rumaged around and found some pliers, and calmly disposed of the fat black scorpion. She was justifiably quite proud of it too, and waved the oozing tail around to assure me that it was indeed conquered.
Nick mobilized the barrio, and in twenty minutes I had our doctor friend calling me with which antihistamine to buy, a friend on the way to a pharmacy, and two neighbors and a nurse they had found in the neighborhood arguing over whether that really was the right thing to give me. Among other advise, I was told to chew on 7 basil leaves at once, eat little bits of dulce (unrefined brown sugar), drink strong sweet black coffee, run my hand under cold water, and suck on ice cubes. I did all of the above. Meanwhile, the pain was not residing, rather the fuzzy pins and needles feeling was spreading through my hand, and then my tongue starting tingling, and finally my teeth as well so that when I clenched by jaw I could feel vibrations through my teeth. Luckily I never did feel like my throat started closing or have difficulty breathing, which is what our doctor said the next stage of the allergic reaction could be.
In typical Nica style, the village in my house never really did agree, so I finally went with our doctor’s advice and the nurse injected me with an antihistamine, leaving me with two more to take orally the next day and some mildly offended neighbors whose advise to buy a different anti-allergen was not taken. After the shot, the fuzzy pain didn’t go away but did stop spreading. It started subsiding a few hours later, but it wasn’t until about 24 hours later that my hand and tongue fully stopped tingling. In hindsght, maybe it wasn’t so bad, but I would like to check off scorpion sting from my list of Nicaraguan adventures and not go back to it again. Like most wild animals, I know they don’t attack unless they feel threatened or disturbed, so I for one am much more cautious pulling out rarely-used books and boxes and putting on shoes. So that’s why Nicas bang their shoes up-side down before putting them on…..