Termite Terrors and Rainy Day Ramblings

Hello all!

It’s been a while since I last posted. Again.

It’s almost the end of June and I was lucky to enjoy beautiful weather for a good 2 weeks before rainy season FINALLY hit. It’s been raining (at least for part of the day) every day for the past couple of days. It doesn’t look like it will let up for a while. This, of course, means wonderful things for my hair and for my laundry, which I now have to dry inside. The tatami mats smell due to lack of fresh air because I can’t open the windows in fear of getting them wet and having mold grow. But, this is par for the course.

What I DIDN’T expect was the massive swarm of flying termites to breach the cracks of my doors and windows and cause me to have a panic attack at 10 p.m. at night. So, fun story time. It was Monday night, I’d just finished eating dinner (thank god) and was finishing washing up the dishes, when I noticed something crawling on the floor. Bugs are nothing new here as I get little spiders, beetles, moths, and other crawlies all the time. No big deal. I squished it and continued my evening. Then I started noticing more. There’d be a few more crawling by the window, a couple on the floor. I started really looking and they were on the walls in my bedroom, the closets, were flying near the lamps, and were plastered up against the screens of my windows desperately trying to get inside. It was disgusting. I could see little wings had fallen off here and there, so I knew the flying ones and the crawling ones were the same. I had a suspicion, and after looking them up on the Internet, confirmed that they were indeed flying termites. In Japanese, they are called “flying ants,” while regular termites are called “white ants.”

Minus spiders, and really big bugs, I’m not squeamish about squashing insects, but this was really gross. I think the sheer number of them was freaking me out. I also didn’t know if it meant my apartment had been infested and I would have to prepare for fumigation if it was indeed a problem. I was/am already stressed out the moving out process, so it really didn’t take much to push me over. Plus, you know, big crawly bugs when I want to sleep soon….not so chill. Over the next couple of hours, I proceeded to look in every nook and cranny I could and killed a lot of them. Still, I couldn’t figure out where they were coming from or if they had all come in from outside. I messaged Libby, and she too, was having an invasion taking place in her bathroom. She however, has a deathly fear of ants, and was suffering a far worse panic attack than I since these guys looked a lot like ants. I made to go next door to discuss a plan of attack and walked straight into a storm cloud of termites outside. It was really nasty. Clearly (hopefully), all the ones inside had somehow gotten in from outside. Anyway, we talked about what to do and decided to go to our landlords the next day to see if they felt it was a major concern and what should be done. Still, I had to survive the rest of the night and knowing that all these bugs were crawling around made me not want to stay in my apartment. I wound up messaging Rie and she came by at 11:30 to give me bug spray and moral support, bless her heart. I managed to fall asleep and had to kill some stragglers in the morning, but they seemed to have disappeared. That or I killed them all. It’s Saturday here now, and I’ve still had to kill a few more stragglers and I still occasionally find some corpses, but they seemed to have disappeared. What an ordeal. Apparently that day was the day they all come up out of the ground and swarm to mate or something. I don’t know. I’m glad I won’t have to deal with it again. I’ve heard other people in town also had the same problem, so it gives me comfort knowing it’s not just my apartment. It also probably means they haven’t infiltrated the walls. I’m still keeping an eye out every day, but I have hope.

The moral of the story is this. One, if you live in Japan and in the inaka, bugs are going to be a part of everyday life whether you like it or not. And two, get yourself a friend who will drive to your house in the dead of night with bug spray and kind words.

Other than that, I have been very busy with preparations for coming home. There’s so much to do, half of it is bureaucracy (also a wonderful not really it’s awful experience here), and I’m already stressing out about everything. The good thing is, I do have my one way ticket home booked and I’ve managed to ship a lot of stuff home already. I can’t believe I only have 6 weeks left. SIX WEEKS. It seems crazy that it’s already been 3 years. On one hand, it feels like I’ve been here for 10 years because of all the things I’ve experience, but at the same time, it feels like I’ve just gotten here.

It’s hard knowing that I’m going to have to say goodbye to all these great people that I’ve met. I’m really really awful at drawn out goodbyes. I’ll just cry and won’t be able to speak. Lucky me that Japan is all about the over-the-top goodbye parties and making speeches. Maybe I can just cry my way out of everything.

I’m also really excited to go home. I miss Berkeley, my family, and my friends. I miss cheese, like actual real cheese. I miss ethnic food. Y’all think I’m being funny, but this is serious. 3 years without real cheese and Thai food. I went to the JET Leaver’s Meeting yesterday and this was the actual consensus. 100% of the people in attendance said they missed cheese. The struggle is real.

I’ve also gotten in touch with my successor (Hey girl!), who I will get to meet the day before I leave. I’m excited to impart all of my knowledge about Minamata to her and continue on with the next chapter of my life.

And that’s all for now, I’ll definitely try to get one more post on here before I leave with some more pictures. I’ll absolutely post again once I’m home and talk about adjusting back to Berkeley life.

It’s the final countdown!

Until next time!

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