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No Wrong Turns: Snakes and Spiders and Scorpions...Oh My!
The other night, just before I was about to hop into bed, I happened to notice something move on the floor below the bathroom sink. My first instinct was SPIDER! and I quickly told Tom, my resident bug catcher, that he might have some work to do. On closer inspection I realized that it wasn't a spider it was instead a rather cranky looking SCORPION! Needless to say that got the bug-catcher moving. We (he) caught it, let it go outside and then each of us performed a fantastic bug dance.
You won't just find beaches in Baja Mexico but an arid desert as well. And this desert is home to a few creatures we'd all like to avoid. Here are a few critters to watch out for in Baja California Sur, how to minimize any encounters and what to do if things get "a little too close for comfort."
The chances of finding a snake in your room or casita are pretty rare but it isn't unheard of to see one if you are out hiking in the desert hills. Wearing solid hiking boots and heavy socks is a great way to prevent your ankles from getting bitten. Another tip is to make noise when you walking to alert the snakes of your presence and to give them time to move away.
Two local snakes you may run into are the rattlesnake and the "Mudo" snake, another type of rattlesnake. "Mudo" mean mute in Spanish and refers to this serpent's lack of rattlers and therefore the lack of warning you receive before you get too close.
If you are bitten
Should you end up getting bitten, get yourself to the nearest medical facility to find anti-venom as soon as possible. Try to stay calm and do your best to remember (if you can) what the snake looked like so you can describe it to your doctor. Tourniquets are no longer recommended as they might actually speed up the movement of the venom.
Truth be told, though I still cannot fathom this, the big hairy spiders are more scared of you than you are of them. That being said there are some big spiders here and if you've ever seen one skitter across the floor at night (or the ceiling!) you might be less inclined to believe this too. Spiders tend to hide in dark, small crevices. Folded clothes, shoes, boxes, and cupboard corners seem to fit the bill as cozy spider homes. The ones you really want to watch out for are the smaller spiders: the black widow and the brown recluse spider pack enough poison to cause serious harm.
If you are bitten
Relax not all spider bites, even those from the terrifying tarantula, are not necessarily dangerous. This does depend on the individual as some people experience stronger reactions than others. Apparently, 99% of venomous spiders don't have fangs strong enough to penetrate human skin (though I've heard this time and time again spiders still freak me out). Those experiencing a serious reaction or those who are unsure what type of spider bit them need to take their bitten selves to the nearest hospital to receive treatment immediately.
These little night loving creatures tend to keep to themselves but if they do venture onto your turf they are usually found in shoes or other dark places. Make sure to shake out your shoes and take a good look around dark areas before blindly sticking your hand in. There is a very dangerous scorpion called the "Durango scorpion" in Mexico it is not found in the Baja. The scorpions here are smaller, translucent and deliver a sting more like a bee sting. If you find one in your room you can try to catch it under a glass (they are feisty, so be very careful) or it can easily be squished by a hard-soled (or hard-souled?) shoe.
If you are stung
Unless you are sure about what type of scorpion stung you, it is best to get to the nearest hospital. The locals swear by using antiseptic made from rubbing alcohol filled with previously caught scorpions. Me....I'd rather go to the hospital.
Tom and I have been fairly lucky as we have only really encountered one scorpion but that one was enough to make me start shaking out all my clothes before I put them on as well as to wear sandals around the casita rather than bare feet. Chances are you probably won't run into too many of these creatures as they prefer to stay away from humans but, if you do receive a bite the general consensus is to get to a doctor right away.
"No Wrong Turns" chronicles Kelsey and her husband's road trip -- in real time -- from Canada to the southern tip of South America in their trusty red VW Golf named Marlin.