31 October 2011

Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh, My!

On my very first night in our new house in Búzios I walked around and around opening and closing doors like a kid with a new toy. Coming from a New York apartment, I was especially delighted at the luxury of having all those doors to open and rooms to enter. When I opened the door to one of our guest bedrooms and turned on the light, I heard fluttering. I sensed motion. I thought, "Oh, a butterfly. How nice!" I looked harder. Awfully big for a butterfly, and such a dull brown. I thought, "Must be a large moth. Gee, they have big moths here in Brazil." I looked harder. The flying was so frantic and the noise so strangely thwup thwup thwup-y. And the wings, they were so un-bird like. The truth dawned on me ...

One of my first new vocabulary words: morcego
That was my first up close and personal bat. No big deal for people who live in the country, but I was a city girl. We still often see bats flying around at sunset, but now that the house is occupied, lights are on, music is playing and people are talking, the bats don't come inside. And if one does occasionally go astray and come into the house, it's likely one of us will just say, "Oh, look, dear. A bat."

Our life here didn't turn out — as I had initially feared it would — to be one National Geographic moment after another. As far as fauna are concerned, things are relatively calm. I don't even remember now what I had expected. Swarms of red ants? Scorpions? Tigers? Lions? Was I confusing South America with Africa? Did I watch too much Johnny Carson on the nights that Wild Kingdom's Jim Fowler was on? Oh, sure, we've had our share of "invasions." One early evening it was dragonflies, hundreds and hundreds of them, wrapped like a cloak around our house for about 30 minutes. Another day — and for several days running — there was a swarm of bees inside the house at the top of the stairs. I'm allergic to bees. I was nervous. Plus we learned that bees are protected by law in Brazil; you're not supposed to kill them. Best I keep mum on the outcome.

No question but that my family and friends have it worse in the States. Woodchucks in the garbage pails. Deer in the front yard. Bears in the backyard. Not to mention those 49 exotic wild animals running loose in Ohio last week.

Here are some of our friendly visitors: 

Our pet cricket. This cute guy stayed glued to this perch for a week before moving on.

This pretty cone snail emerges after every rainstorm. It looks like any ordinary snail. But it's poisonous! Do Not Touch!

This prehistoric monster lives in our hibiscus bushes.

One of a family of three possums living in our roof. They have been evicted. 

These visiting vultures were a little too close to the living room for our comfort.

It's not exactly the snake-pit scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark, but it's as close as I want to come.

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