I was travelling with a group of people from Cape Town in South Africa over the border into Namibia, a spectacular part of the world. I’d been in South Africa for about 6 weeks at that stage and was well used to the creepy crawlies that were simply everywhere. Note, I’m not afraid of creepy crawlies, although some were awful ugly and awful fast and awful creepy and awful craw… well, you get the picture. Anyway, we arrived in Ai Ais, a beautiful, tranquil thermal spring. After a dip in the pool – it was bliss! – we started up a braai, had a stroll around etc. There was a huge scream and a few of the girls came rushing out of the toilet block [this was travelling on the cheap, remember] and the guys that went to check, ran out just as quickly. After a third check by our driver, the ‘thing’ had moved on.
We had a great dinner, all relaxed and cosy with the heat from the braai, we were chatting and had opened up some beer.
Suddenly, this blur of movement came running out from underneath a chair right beside me. I screamed, jumped up, screamed some more, everyone else started screaming, our driver started shouting ‘WTF?! WTF? Oh Jesus! I see it’. I didn’t see it at that point as I was in our makeshift kitchen. A few minutes later I was assured that ‘it’ was gone. And sure then I had to go and ask what ‘it’ was.
‘I’d say a Red Roman’ was the reply.
‘A what? A WTF? That thing was racing all over the place! It’s bloody huge!’
‘Listen, I thought it was a bloody snake, you screamed so much! It’s alright, it’s gone’, he added.
At this point you have to understand that all Africans are afraid of snakes. Well, at the very least cautious in the extreme, seeing as the most dangerous and the most harmless type look virtually the same, you don’t want to be close enough to have a good look at either.
I took a huge gulp of beer, tried to settle back into my seat. But everyone wanted to know exactly what a Red Roman was.
‘Oh! You do not want to come across a Red Roman. ‘No, no way – those things are nasty!’
So what was it about Red Romans?
‘They can run at 10 miles an hour. They have two sets of jaws, up & down and side to side. Carnivorous! They’ll eat anything! They….’ – Jesus! I would’ve been flat out on the floor, only I was afraid to take my feet off the chair.
Now. Ten minutes later, I was still in recovery mode when, quick as a flash, the bloody ‘thing’ came running at me again! Well! I was the far side of the house in less than a second. I was up on a bench and staying put. Cue mass panic, again, and a whole lot of shouting! [Not just me, just to point out]. This time, I was not letting this ‘thing’ get away with it. I wanted it dead. D.E.A.D. I tells ye!
I grabbed our driver’s arm and I told him that I would kill him if he didn’t kill that ‘thing’, steam coming down my nose with seriousness. There was a circle of people around the braai area so the ‘thing’ was kind of boxed in. One of the guys had a great idea and he threw a heavy magazine [think Vogue or GQ] onto the ‘thing’. It landed right on it! Brilliant! Except, the magazine kept moving. The ‘thing’ was not only still very much alive but still able to walk at a good pace to our shock and amazement. ‘JUMP ON IT’ I screamed. ‘KILL IT. KILL IT!’. Faced with the choice of killing the spider or my wrath, the guy jumped onto the magazine and quickly off it again. The magazine moved again. He jumped on it, twice or so more and finally we heard that tell tale popping and crunching. Several flattened legs shot out from the edges of the A4 size magazine. This was no small arachnid. The End. *Cry*