Thursday, February 17, 2011

Veloma, Toliara

I got some blood work back today and it turns out I have hypocalicemia, or abnormally low levels of blood calcium. Why might I have this odd little deficiency? Parasite X, of course! No seriously, I have some type of unknown parasite which is leeching my calcium. I guess this sort of thing must be rather common, as the doctor tested directly for calcium (among other things) and the pharmacy had a nicely packaged treatment none other than hypocalicemia. The treatment regime is a mega antibiotic (to kill Parasite X), ten days of calcium super-supplements (to stop the nausea/vomiting, fatigue, and painful bones), followed by a week of some scary looking B6/magnesium concoction in glass viles. Ever use V05 hot oil? Same viles. Scary.

So, I should be back to functional in no time! I really am desperate to get out of Toliara and back into the forest. Its been really nice to have shower/bathroom facilities, but I am in Madagascar for LEMURS. A few things to note about Toliara before I go:

1. The sunsets are lovely. Even if they are over rubble. And yes, people live in that rubble.

2. There was some sort of a yogurt party outside of my hotel today. There was loud music playing all day and when I went down stairs and asked what was going on found out that it was "publicity of food." There were two enormous speakers outside of the small grocery type store, and two DJ-ish dudes behind a table. Directly in front of the DJs, were 4 small bottles of "Yoa", which is drinking yogurt. OK.

3. Bang Dong tissues. I just had to buy a box. Enough said?

4. This isn't about Toliara so much, but I thought it was cute anyhow. Today I went out to eat. It was the first time in nearly a week that I ventured out for food. I could only eat a wee bit of my veggie curry and really didn't want to waste the rest. There is no 'to go' here (INCLUDING COFFEE) but the restaurant was kind enough to lend me their Santa bowl, such that I could take my lunch with me.

Ok, well I will sign off now and will be back online in late April. In the mean time, I promise to take my vitamins (literally), watch for scorpions (literally), and pay off any drunken AK-47 wielding gendarme (literally, beit with cash or french fries [and yes, this actually happened]).

The Little Bastards

The Giant Striped Mongoose (Galidictis grandidieri) is one of the rarest carnivores in the world and is restricted to an area of 400km2 in the spiny forest of south-western Madagascar. The majority of their range is within the boundary of Tsimanapetsotsa National Park. Where I live. Knowing that carnivores are generally quite elusive, I was highly surprised when on my very first evening of camping at TNP, a number of Galidictis waltzed through. Not only did they traipse through like they owned the place (which they sort of do) but they came right up to me and I am certain that they would have taken a snack from my hand. You’d think these were long habituated and provisioned critters, but they actually weren’t even “discovered” (by Western science) until 1986, and have only been the subject of one scientific study.

And did I mention they were cute? Well they are. Cute as all get out. They only weigh a couple of kilos, have a long pointy nose, round little ears, a long sleek striped body, dainty little feet, and a fluffy white plume of a tail. They make adorable little squeak squeak alien type vocalizations and always seem to have something to say to one another.

Endangered. Endemic. Rare. Adorable. And don't think they'll let you forget it for a second.

Oh look, they even have babies, just to be that much cuter.

Little known fact, Galaditis can be real little bastards. So much so that they have been dubbed the “Little Bastards.” Each evening at dusk they appear out of seemingly nowhere. Though we have not and do not feed the Little Bastards they prance over to my dinner as if they own it too. I have to be constantly vigilant with my food, as they have no problem walking right up and stealing from your dish. In fact, I have to near constantly stomp and yell and shoo and through small rocks just to keep them at bay. For the record, I through the rocks near the wee Bastards, not at them. They have these weird bum-sniffing rituals (they sniff each other, not me), and they screach and scream at all hours, and they fight, and they get into EVERYTHING.

Consider the following:

Exhibit A
They chewed through the food tent (AT 4AM) to get some super rank "smoked" fish. And they made a huge mess and broke dishes. The tent is already stitched up in this pic, but you get the idea. Bastards.

Exhibit B
Digging under my tent at 2am. For no reason. I chase them away repeatedly, but once they get something in their adorable inquisitive little heads, ph, good luck. Bastards.

Exhibit C
Breaking into the food box to steal my precious oatmeal from home. I had oatmeal for about 7 seconds when I first got here. Ald the bastards apparently wanted to try some. They got through a double latched locked metal box to get it. Bastards.

Exhibit D
Tapping on my head and tent disturbance. This one I have so proof of, but they scrape at my tent at night and once even tapped on my head. And no, I am not on Larium. Bastards.

Exhibit E
Remember goat up a tree? Well they made quite a rucus that night and managed to get the mandilble an femur down. The goat was tied up a tree for goodness sake. Bastards.

Exhibit F
Now this one I can't entirely blame them for because they are carnivores. But let me tell you, it is unpleasent to wake up at 3am to the sound of one of your chickens being killed. Bastards (who can't really help their dietary needs).

FYI- Two good things came out of the death of poor Pricilla.

A) I learned what Galitictis inflicted puncture marks look like. I am interested in predator prey interactions and thus who is eating whom in the forest. Knowing what a Galidictis killed critter looks like is very useful, even if it was my poor Pricilla. Bastards.

B) Lunch. I just couldn't do it, but others seemed to enjoy her.

Bastards. Adorable. Endemic. Endangered. Bastards.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Not Malaria

Well, I am still in Toliara. I haven't been able to do much other than sleep for the last few days. I really had very little to accomplish in town, but its difficult to get that very little amount down when you sleep all day and all night. I did however, manage to finally see a doctor. She looked at me with a somewhat shocked expression and said "You are very tired." Yes, I am very tired. Anyhow, they have these nifty little Malaria tests which look and function just like a pregnancy test. I am Malaria free! I have to go back in the am to get blood work done, and I am debating whether I should wait around for the results or just hit the road. I NEED TO GET BACK TO MY LEMURS!

A few of the Maki at TNP have large and unusual bumps on their noses. I have no idea why but find it quite endearing.

Here is a profile shot of Pinky:

And the Patient:

And the aptly named, Shnoze:

And just for fun, here is Tumor (he has some sort of growth on his upper left lip):

Time for a nap...

Oh yes, and cyclone Bingiza is headed my way. Neat.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Dickens, part 2

First, I am sick and have spent a lot of the passed 24hrs vomiting. What a drag.

Second, I forgot a couple of things yesterday that I wanted to share:

A) A mosquito bit me on my eye ball. I repeat, a mosquito bit me on my eyeball. Can you even imagine?

B) While wearing by bug hood, I got a caterpillar in my eyeball. I saw the caterpillar in front of my eye and went to brush it off the mesh part of my hat. What I didn't realize was that the caterpillar was on the inside and rather than brushing it away, I put it straight into my eye. It was a big juicy caterpillar and got stuck across my whole eye, parallel to my eyelids. I immediately tried to get it out, but instead accidentally squished it. Then my entire eye filled with caterpillar guts, which subsequently streamed down my face. Seriously.

C) A fly pic. There are 23 flies on my cup, for the record. Yuck.

Now, onto some of the best of times...

Jan 6, 2011. 2:52pm. Camp. Mosquito net.
It pouring rain and its lovely. It has been quite stormy all day with thunder and lightning and bursts of rain. It smells fantastic and fresh in camp right now. I am afraid for what will happen with the mosquito population after this rain, but will worry about that when the time comes. Since I always seem to be complaining, the following are aspects of the forest and being here that I enjoy:

1. The lemurs. No duh, right? On days that I actually get to follow them (ie I can find them and keep my ass up with them) I love when they forget I am there and just go about their regular business of snoozing, feeding, squabbling, etc.

Lemur females are dominant to males and get away with, well, anything they want. Sometimes the females are just jerks for no apparent reason, and they walk over to a male just to punch him. It totally cracks me up. The lemur babies are now five months old. Until recently they babies were all friends and happily played together, but a couple of weeks ago the female babies suddenly realized they were in fact female. There has been another change of late. It is almost mating season and the males are looking fantastic and waving their stink tails all over. And the female are getting a bit more interested in the males. So, I was out with the ILove group when Momma Bear saunter over to a high ranking male named Short Tail, who incidentally has a Short Tail (creative naming, I know). Momma Bear sits down next to Short Tail and he immediately begins grooming her. Baby Bear was riding dorsal on Momma Bear and since she now realizes her genders' privilege within the group, she reach out and slaps Short Tail across the face. He let out a submissive squeal and hightails it far away from the girls. Even baby girls slap lemur males around. Is it wrong for me to find that hilarious?

Here is LJ, just looking goofy

2. I love watching (and recently video-ing) the lemur babies playing. They wrestle and bite and chase and hang from their toes with their rotund little bellies hanging out. OMG it is so cute and cracks me up every time. Then I watch the videos and totally crack up over and over again. I will be sure to post videos once I am back in high-speed internet land. I also just like getting good lemur photos. They are such silly little beasties and make for great shots.

Here is "Mutant" and Mutant's mom

3. Forest sounds. Its so lovely and peaceful. Sometimes quiet but sometimes not. During the day are always a few birds singing and crickets rubbing their little wings. At night there are more birds, the Bastards (Galidictis granderiei [which can actually be endearing]) bats, mouse lemurs and of course insects. All of this makes for a chorus that is the perfect music to my ears.

4. Finding dead things. It is so exciting to stumble across a new find. I desperately want to find a Bastard skeleton. Neither the holotype nor paratype are complete. Can you imagine?! So many of the critters here are unknown. For example, there are lots of different species of bats at TNP but no one has ever taken the time to ID them. So, there may very well be undescribed mammals right here.

Here are the remains of a baby lemur

And a baby tortoise

5. The tortoises! Live ones. I just love stumbling across a tortoise or two. This morning I think I saw six. They are surprisingly agile and fairly quick, even with that cumbersome shell.

6. Getting nothing but fresh air and plenty of exercise. It is quite a luxury to spend 8+ hrs a day hiking up and down and all around and then back again. And of course the forest is beautiful. Just for fun, here is a pic of the most beautiful (yet conceited) man lemur, George Clooney (note his hairdo):

7. Learning things about the plants and animals here that no one else knows. This I am keeping under lock and key, for now.

Sometimes- who am I kidding- lots of times it is incredibly hard to be here. Everything is difficult. The bugs. The isolation. The heat. The days with no data. The loneliness. The fear of serious illness(like two weeks ago!) or injury. The lack of sanitation. The general deprivation. And worst of all, the lack of Ron. That being said. I think that when all is said and done, I will look back on my time here fondly. Like in a "I had to walk to school in the snow and it was uphill both ways" kinda way. Or perhaps more aptly, "I walked for 3.5 hours in +50 degree celcius heat to get four eggs and then they were bad", kinda way. Seriously, this happened.

Given my current state of health, I will be in Toliara for at least another day. Night all.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


I've never actually read A Tale of Two Cities, but Dickens' opening remarks have come to mind a number of times of late.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

The last couple of months at TNP have been both amazing and horrible. Just to get it over with, today I will detail the worst of times. This was supposed to be a short post, but instead it is the longest ever, which I realize is a blogger no no. But, it feels rather therapeutic to vent, so I am rolling with it. In an effort to keep you interested, there is talk of private parts near the end of the post. Classy, I know.

The worst of times.

First, I got sick. Really sick. Oddly sick. Painfully sick. I was only semi-coherent and spent ten days sleeping all day on a cement pad (which is hard but cool) and all night in my tent (which is more comfortable but often over 50°C in the day). I had a very unusual rash while I was sick and continue to have odd symptoms (patches of red blisters and strange bruising), but will deal with that in due time. Here is a blurb from Christmas day:

Dec 25, 2010. 6:35pm. Tent.
I am really sick. I spent another laying and sleeping day on the cement. I thought I would die in the night. Maybe not actually die, but I was really really sick and nearly beside myself. My back and bones were so achy and hurt so bad. Plus, my head felt like it would crack in half and my skin may burn or itch right off my body. Worst Christmas ever! Poor Meghan studied for the GRE for "fun" today. She must be going nuts with me just laying around for days on end. She has never been away from home for Christmas before. I keep wanting to engage with her or do something remotely fun, but then I just fall asleep for hours and hours.

Ten days is a long time to be really sick when you are stuck out in the middle of nowhere. It was truly miserable. I think I either had Dengue or Chikungunya Fever, but who knows. The following is a pic of the blister patch that surfaced on my leg last week. The green is sharpie- I wanted to keep track of any increase in size.

Next, everything I own has fallen apart, including:
- Radio receiver 1. Kaput
- Tent. Its held together with duct tape and a tarp (see below)
- The tarp over my ten. It completely disintegrated (see below)

- My boots. They have been re-soled 3 times since I got here
- My clothes. Sunday is now 'darning' day. Here is my beloved pink tank top and my "good" "clean" pants:

- My duct tape. The roll and any used duct tape simultaneously lost its stick
- My body. I'll have to elaborate on this at a later date
- Radio receiver number 2
- Generator. The alternator and various other unobtainable parts are dead
- water purifiers. I have now spent countless hours and more than $800USD filtering water
- Backpack. Is part of the Sunday darning
- Headlamp. RIP

- My foamy mattress moulded from the consecuative tent floodings. I think it has bugs too, but they aren't too bothersome.

Clearly I could and will survive without the aforementioned possesions, it just makes my life more difficult. When combined with the heat (upwards of 50°C) and all the other annoyances, my will to live wains. Finding and staying with my lemur groups without a receiver can be particularly difficult. I was trying to upload this really embarrassing video I took while crying like an idiot in the forest, but it won't load on my current internet connection. I suppose its really not that embarrasing anyhow, considering my only reader is my husband. RON- you better be reading this. And get the mustard off the ceiling! Here is a terrible still from the blubber video:

I look like a really sweaty 80-year old woman. For the record, I am a really sweaty 32 year old woman.

And the worst thing of all???

The insects that followed the rains. I am pretty robust about creepy crawlers. Sure, I had the whole spider thing, but I nipped that in the butt. Last year was a drought in southern Madagascar and so when the rains began this year there was an immediate and overwhelming response from many insects, including the mosquitoes. And they love me. They come in swarms and the swarms are so dense that I can't inhale or talk without them filling my nose and mouth. And the flies will never leave leave me alone. Ever. The flies are partial to going up my nose and getting stuck in my throut, but they will also just go straight into my mouth. Worst than eating mosquitoes and flies, is trying to use the nonexistant facilaties with them...

Dec 31, 2010. 3:54 pm. Camp. Bug net.
Well, mosquito season is officially here. We've noticed a few mosquitoes during the day lately, but today I officially got swarmed and am currently hiding. They are these nasty big mosquitoes that bite through clothing and somehow manage to bite my face and or neck without my detecting them. Its really horrible. This is way TMI, but I just had to go to the "bathroom" (which is a hole that I just dug in the forest). Its really scary to drop your pants when you are simultaneously being swarmed by flies AND mosquitoes. I try to go as quickly as possible, but you know, sometimes these things need a minute. Anyhow, I am squatted down and trying to balance myself as low as I can get (if I don't squat low enough, pee splashes onto my feet and pants) and can immediately feel flies landing right on my bare butt. So, I stretch one arm straight out in front of me to act as a counter balance, and then use my other arm to swat the flies (and hopefully mosquitoes) away from my nether regions. Its horrific. Then, the second I am done I get my pants back up and proceed to bury the ensuing waste. In the brief moment between there are already easily 100 flies happily feeding themselves on, well, s*&t. These same flies will be on my food shortly. Horrible. And I received 19 new mosquito bites on the area that my bathing suit bottom covers (privates!), and one on my pinky finger of my balancing arm.

FML. Here is another bug related rant:

January 2, 2010. 6:52pm. Tent.
Just back from dinner. Oh my god the mosquitoes and flies are so so bad. I feel like crying. I don't even know what to do or how to continue on here. I am completely overwhelmed. Earlier, we walked by the Vintany sleep site and got completely engulfed in swarms of mosquitoes. It was actually really scary. We tried walking away but they just stay with you. We were swatting and spraying and running and just could not shake the bastards. At one point I looked at Meghan and I'd bet there were 100 mosquitoes on her butt alone. And her butt is tiny! I dropped my pack, realizing that it was also covered. There were 100s of mosquitoes on my backpack. Literally hundreds. We came back to camp to shower and ask for dinner early (in a vain effort to avoid the mosquitoes) only to have mosquitoes invade the "shower" and devour me. And then it was nearly impossible to eat dinner with the flies and mosquitoes. I couldn't open my mouth without flies going in and got about 40 mosquito bites in the 4 minutes it took me to scarf down my dinner. Unbelievable. I've never seen anything like it.

I've tried many a remedy for getting fewer bites. Deet (which I am now allergic to), complete body coverage with clothing (which they still bite through), a full body bug suit over my complete coverage clothes (which they still get into), and even setting up a mosquito net in the forest (which was a really bad idea, because I just got trapped in a smaller space with a million mosquitoes). Here is a creepy camera trap photo of me while I am all suited up:

Despite these measures, some days I get over 200 bites. For the record, mosquitoes here transmit malaria (including cerebral), elephantitus, dengue and chikungunya fever, rift valley fever, and many other serious illnesses. I think the following sums up the tribulations of the passed couple of months nicely:

January 14, 2011. 3:49pm. Camp. Bug net.
Oy. Today is tough. I am at a bit of a loss at the moment. Were to begin...Getting up at 4am was brutal. The mosquitoes were brutal. The lemurs were in a mood, which was brutal- Ilove ditched us twice, which is very unusual, and brutal. The flies and mosquitoes were absolutely brutal. Getting sweatbees, flies, mosquitoes and franken fly 2's trapped inside my bug hat was brutal. Wearing my bug hat was brutal. Wearing sweaty stinky socks on my hands was brutal. Getting bitten through my clothes, bug hat, and sweaty stinky socks on hands was brutal. Getting caught on the limestone rock and ripping my pants open again was brutal. Getting sweatbees, flies, mosquitoes and franken fly 2's in the newest hole in my pants was brutal. Bashing my sore legs in forest was brutal. Bumping my head a million times was brutal. The heat was brutal. Getting pricked by every class of thorn was brutal. Getting hung up on a zillion trees, shrubs, sharp rocks was brutal. Sweating enough to need to consume 1.5L of H2O per hour was brutal. Carrying enough water to drink was brutal. Today has been pretty much brutal. Chinese-water-torture style brutal. Is that racist? Can you say "Chinese water torture"? I'll have to look into that one. I draw the line at f&%k though. F*&k is deeply engrained in my mental culture and I am going to say it. F*&k is not going anywhere. Deal.*

Wow. I am now spent. I think I just did some sort of literary purge. Ok, tomorrow I promise to be less verbose as I detail the best of times. I promise there are lots of goodies, just look at me still managing to smile, despite being a little worse for wear:

*Not really sure where this teenie rant came from. Meh.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Emergency-ish Preparedness

My god, the transition to city life gets a bit more difficult with each passing month I spend in the forest. This morning, I couldn't remember how to print at the internet cafe or how to get money out of a bank machine. And there is no way I could decide on what to have for breakfast. Menu? Choices? Lanto (my fantastic cook) just makes my food. I don't have to decide. Menus are tricky. And potentially out to get me. Anyhow, here is another journal excerpt:

Feb 3, 2011. 10:59am. Camp. Bug net.
For once, I actually knew what to do in an emergency-ish situation. Normally, when something happens that requires a quick response, I draw a total blank. Which is really bad timing. Good thing there are no large carnivores in Madagascar, anymore. One time Ron got his fingers stuck in the garage door at the Uvic Aquatic Unit- we both worked there taking care of fish and assorted hydrophilic critters. At the Aquatic facility, there was this big garage door that we opened so that the indoor tanks would get sun and air. Problem being that the door didn't have any handles, so you'd have to pull it down by grabbing onto a panel and remember to mind your pinkies. Well, Mr. Accident himself (aka Ron) went to pull down the door and just didn't quite pull his fingers out quick enough, so four fingers on his right hand (of course) got stuck and squished between two panels. He let out a horrible shriek and with his fingers still wedged between two large pieces of metal, I asked," what should I do?" I simply had no idea how to make this situation better. He told me to help him get the door back up and thus his fingers free, which I did. Yuck, his poor finger tips were as flat as little pancakes. Clearly, his hand was going to need some medical attention, and although I knew this, again I had no idea how to proceed. Not a clue. So again, in my bewilderment, I asked, "what should I do?" Call for a medic and get me some ice, Ron said. Ah! Brilliant. That seemed like exactly the thing to do. Case in point, I freeze up in emergency situations.

Earlier, I was in the forest following the Ilove lemur group when my assistant, Meghan, started calling my name in a tone that sounded emergency-ish. Luckily, I remembered how walk over to her. It turns out that one of the baby lemurs, "Creature", was stuck in a death ball. What is a death ball? There are these horrible plants here (Uncarina stellulifera) that create these horrible fruits, which are designed to stick to passers by as a means of seed dispersal. Fair enough. Everyone has to fitness to maintain. But the fruits of this horrible plant have 'petite harpoons' that stick onto your clothes/fur/skin/feathers and only become more stuck when you try to pull free.

Here is one of these horrible death ball creating fruits:

They are about the size of a tennis ball and are really difficult to get off once they/you are stuck. We use gardening shears to cut the spines which allows you to pick the harpoons out of your flesh. Sadly, they really are quite dangerous for animals who don't have gardening shears. The following photo is a giant "death ball", about a million horrible fruits stuck to each other and the remnants of what becomes of small animals when they encounter the fruits. My sharpie and boot are there for scale and all those long white things are the long bones of animals that got stuck, permanently, on the death ball. Poor things.

We actually dissected that death ball and pulled out a plethora of bats, reptiles, birds, etc. L to R: Meghan, Bronwyn, Lanto and Bakira.

So, when Meghan had the urgent sounding tone, it was because one of "my" baby lemurs, Creature, was stuck in a small death ball! Meghan, who is a first aid guru and seemingly always knows what to do, was a bit stunned and asked me "what should we do?" Like any non-panicking level headed person I whipped off my outer shirt and said "I have to catch her." I got close to Creature who was writhing and screeching, likely both in pain but also in fear because I was in her personal space and presumably (in her mind) about to have her for lunch (I never eat lemurs for lunch [just so we're clear]). Creature had a look of utter terror in her pretty little eyes. I tossed my shirt over the poor little thing and grabbed her- animals are much easier to catch/hold if you cover their faces. She screamed and screamed and the lemur group screamed and screamed and her mother screamed and screamed. Her mom, "the Patient" was darting around and looked at me in a 'I knew you were a dick' kinda way. I asked Meghan to get to work on snipping the spines and removing each of the harpoons that were lodged in Creature's skin. Three of her wee limbs were stuck together and then stuck to her belly and her tail was then stuck to all of her limbs and belly. After 15 minutes or so, the lemur group started to move on, although the Patient continued to cry. Creature held still and even though she had a number of small wounds and was covered in her own poop (as was I [covered in lemur poop that is, just to be clear]) she was ok. Once every last harpoon was out, I found Creature's equally traumatized mom, let her go, and left them to de-stress on their own.

Here is a pic of the Patient and Creature:

Phew. So maybe I only have problem solving skills for animals? Or maybe its when I'm in the southern hemisphere? Or maybe I just got lucky.

Tomorrow, I promise to be more succinct when I droll on about my ups and downs of late.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Evil Eric

My goodness. I am back in Toliara for a couple days and will have glorious internet the entire time. *Sigh* Here is a wee tidbit from my life at Tsimanampetsotsa...

January 24, 2011. 7:57pm. Tent. 92 days remaining.
OMG just had the biggest f*&%ing insect ever on my tent roof. Let's call "him" "Evil Eric." So Evil Eric was between the rain fly (or what is left of the rain fly) and the mesh roof of my tent. He was at least 15cm long and his body was bigger than that of a mouse. Seriously. And he was just sitting there staring at me. Flicking around his super creepy jumbo antennae. I had been in my tent for a half hour or so and Evil Eric was probably looking at me the whole time. Sick. And super scary. There is no way I could sleep with Evil Eric, the beast that he is, watching me so I grabbed my broom and tried to shake him off. I clearly underestimated Evil Eric's determination to spend the night on my tent, leering in at me. When I swatted at him with the broom, Evil Eric SCREAMED AT ME. This really horrible loud high pitched shriek. He seriously scared me half to death! I tried a few more times to shake him loose, but he was having no part of my antics and continued to scream every time I swatted his way. So I switched to plan B and figured I'd just spray a little bit of RAID in his direction and surely that would be incentive enough for him to vacate my premises. I got as close as I could, sprayed a wee squirt and quickly backed up, presuming that Evil Eric would have a thing or two to say about my use of RAID. He didn't make a peep. Nor did he move. Just when I was beginning to think operation RAID failed, something truly horrible happened to Evil Eric. His antennae finally stopped twitching. His super scary mouth parts opened. Some sort of bloody liquid started spurting out of the his poor mouth. Evil Eric proceeded to projectile vomit blood (or some other horrible blood colored insect goo). All over my tent. The putrid goo then dripped down and through my tent's mesh roof and decorated the floor. I was then able swat Evil Eric away with my broom. He now rests (dead or alive) outside my tent door. Perhaps in my shoe. The following photo is of an significantly smaller Evil Eric esk arthropod I saw in the forest. Shiver me timbers.

More to come once I've adjusted to life with electricity.