is it possible to miss bugs?
Out of all the things that people told me I would miss when I moved to Dubai, insects was not one of them. However, after a few months, dare I say it, I am almost inclined to say that I think I miss… bugs! Is it possible to miss bugs?
Coming from Queensland where the bugs were positively pre-historic sized, this is a somewhat strange thing. I will share some examples that anyone from Australia will likely be able to relate to. For instance, I remember a cockroach tapping so loudly across our timber floors one day I could hear him from the bedroom and when I peeked out, I’m sure I saw muscles on those little limbs. He may have been about to steal our furniture if I hadn’t spotted him! If we left even a crumb of bread on our kitchen bench, you would return from hanging the washing on the line while tip-toeing across the ant mounds trying to avoid a bite from a big green ant only to find the crumb (and indeed a sizeable proportion of the bench) had been consumed by black ants. Very disturbing and very yuck!
When staying at my mother’s recently, I wanted to take little Chubs outside in the garden for a play. My Aussie parent mode immediately kicked in and the first thing I instinctively did was check the pile of bricks (where I knew he would head straight to) for red back spiders. And what do you know; there was a huge one there, his little pincers just ready to latch onto my innocent little son and pump him full of deadly poison! I took great pleasure in stomping that spider into such a pulp on the brick that you almost couldn’t even see the mark he left there anymore. There is something deeply satisfying about that kind of opportunity you know.
So when we first came, it was such a blessing to be able to leave a food item out, all night if you wanted to, and not a single thing had touched it. I have not seen one cobweb in our apartment, there have not been any moths in our wardrobe leaving trails of those super annoying tiny holes all over our clothes. We were sitting on rugs at the park the other day having a picnic and our friend was complaining about “all the ants”. I think I saw two and even then I had to squint to be able to see them as they were so tiny. I had a flashback to Crocodile Dundee where Mick delivers his famous line of “That’s not a knife – THIS is a knife” and holds up a machete to the punk with the flick knife. I felt like pulling one of those massive Rhino beetles out of my pocket (yes, I used to find them in our washing sometimes when I was folding it – totally a scream and run all around the garden crying episode I can tell you!) and handing it to her saying “that’s not an insect – THIS is an insect” and seeing the reaction!
There have been no possums in our roof fighting all night and keeping us awake, no threat of snakes in our shed as we clean out boxes, I haven’t even been bitten by a mozzie at dusk whilst sitting outside enjoying the sunset at the beach – not one mosquito bite on any of us!! “This place is my dream home” I remember thinking after the first few weeks (once it cooled down enough to be able to leave the building without spontaneously combusting that is..) as I can do whatever I want without having to deal with any wildlife, insects, bites or stings.
Now, before I go on, I have to share an amusing moment that has literally just happened. I am sitting here typing away and what crawls across my screen but an ant – you read it right… an ANT!!! This actually generated a sense of excitement in my somewhat life, insect, garden, bird and other animal deprived soul. I actually stared at him for a moment, not really believing that he was there, and then marveling at how cute he was and why he chose my screen to walk across. I almost started chatting to him. Is it possible he’s an avid blog reader perhaps in absence of any other insects to hang out with?
But it did lead me to reflect on how sometimes in life, the things you think you will miss you really don’t and it’s those least expected moments that creep up on you and make you miss things you used to hate. I never thought I would be so deprived of any wildlife that I would start chatting a rogue ant one quiet Sunday evening…
I’ll give you another example. We have all been a bit sick over the last few weeks. I’m not sure if its life in aircon of varying quality, the change of seasons, exposure to weird new strains of middle-eastern bugs or what, but our family has never had so much illness. So, after we chewed down our morning vitamins, herbs and assorted other pharmaceuticals, we decided that we were craving some gardens and decided to go for a drive. We had been told about this beautiful place nearby which was described to me as an oasis of calm, tranquility and beautiful gardens to wander. It sounded like just what we needed.
Now our first error was of course to head out for a leisurely Saturday morning drive. There is simply no such thing in Dubai. After getting lost multiple times, driving in 20km wide circles, swearing at the GPS, beeping and being beeped my multiple large 4wds with tinted windows and driving another 20 kms out of the way to find a petrol station, we finally managed to stumble across the entrance to ‘the farm’.
Upon entering the driveway, we were initially filled with hope. There were huge cyprus-style trees lining the 2km driveway almost in a canopy. I had images in my head of a Black Forest style scenario awaiting us with the delicious scent of pine, the crunch of leaves under our feet, the cool of the forest air, perhaps even some whip birds or something with a lovely song that we could lie on the cool earth and soak up the magic of peace and song.
But, as with many things here, it was somewhat a bit of a crushing disappointment.
We walked through the lovely gated entrance to be greeted by a large patch of beautiful, green, fake plastic grass. Crushed.
We followed the path down next to the lovely looking restaurant along what appeared to be a bit of a forest trail. Our hopes were dampened somewhat by the slightly crass family in front of us pushing others out of the way to get a photo in front of the ‘river’ nearby and leaving the brakes off on their pram in the process, almost crushing little Chubs as he sat on the path, mid tantrum, refusing to walk down the hill. But still, our hopes were high as we caught the pram, put the brakes on, picked up the screaming Chubs and wandered down the path searching for the tranquility we so desperately sought. And there it was… a bridge to no-where over a small trickle of ‘river’, which was very nicely landscaped, but there are no two ways about it – it was tiny. Crushed.
And in order to see this lovely sight, we had to weave our way through throngs of families, kids and canoodling couples. It was as though this was the only green patch in Dubai and people had flocked here to experience a Dubai version of tranquility. Crushed
And yet, somehow, there was still an element of tranquility. Once you could extract yourself from the crowd, there were some comfy couches next to a small water fountain, with some lovely tranquil music playing, even individual hammocks to lie in. We lay and tried to ignore the Chubs begging for food from the waiters, the badly behaved kid kicking water on his brother and the endless chattering of people seemingly unable to simply just be quiet – it was a brief moment of tranquility. I’m sure we even heard a birdsong, although it could have quite possibly been a recording carefully placed in the bushes to fool song deprived people such as ourselves into believing the tranquil oasis tag. Just not the same as a real forest with real fresh air and real rivers and plants in it.
Finally, we aborted the mission and headed back to the tranquility of our car, resigned to the fact that we are probably not going to find the greenery and wildlife we seek in a place like Dubai – which makes perfect sense when you think about it given that it is a desert! As we drove back down the 2km driveway, we wound the windows down and poked our heads out trying to suck in the last brief moments of cool ‘forest’ air before being ejected back into the dust and dirt of the giant sandpit, still a little crushed that ‘the farm’ was not more of an actual space to chill out and still we did not see a bug.
And all was not lost – we headed to the beach given that IS something Dubai does well. On our way, we could marvel at the fact that we can drive wherever we want at dusk, at the standard 120kms per hour and never have to worry about the possibility of any wildlife wandering onto the road. The only ‘wildlife’ we have seen outside the zoo is the odd stray cat and a couple of pet poodle-style dogs – both of which would be no match for our little SUV at cruise speed… And you know what? At the beach, there was a fly I had to shoo away from my burger and it was still kind of annoying! As I sat and watched the kids running around with all the other kids, having an absolute ball while we enjoyed some nice cool drinks and live music as the sun went down behind the iconic shape of the Atlantis, I thought to myself – nah, bugs are still overrated. Give me the sandpit anyway. For today at least!
Have a brilliant week and stay away from any biting bugs.