2.30 am and I wake up sweltering and thirsty (one too many Red Stripes may have had something to do with that!) I stumble off down the stairs in the dark to go and get a drink of water, when BANG! scuttle, scuttle, something leaps out of my way and hits the glass door hard.
Still half asleep, I actually assumed I was dreaming, as I gawped at the shape of it in the dark. I thought first it might be a mongoose (like a big squirrel), then with horror, as it started slowly extending its legs, I thought my nightmares were coming true and it was some gigantic spider… I turned on the light and this is what I saw! A huge, steely black and red crab, about the size of my head! It had scuttled to the other side of the sitting room and was waving its pincers at me menacingly. Too scared to get close (it was the middle of the night and for all I knew they could move at 100 miles an hour and attack you in the face with their pointy claws), I zoomed in bravely from about 20 metres away to get this picture!
I left the patio door open for it, hoping he would go out the way it came, but my last sighting of the crab was it heading further in to our house, tapping along the walls with its red and black claws. I went back to my sleeping, sleep-deprived husband and just hadn’t the heart to wake him up. I lay there with my mind crawling. I kept thinking all I knew about land crabs, which isn’t much. They dig leg-breaking, loosely covered burrows near the beach at Ocho Rios, which you have to avoid when you are horse riding there. And I think they come out en masse after the rain. It poured torrentially yesterday, so I guess that had driven him out. But we live in New Kingston, not the bush! Though New Kingston would become the bush in about 3 days if left to its own devices, the way things grow here. Jamaica is a wild place, even in the middle of town. I started imagining, hundreds of them coming in through the still open patio door, hatching babies and sliding over each other, coming up the stairs. Luckily the baby woke me up for a feed after not too long!
Morning broke with the usual din of barking dogs at 5.30am from the neighbour’s garden as a rattly moped delivers the daily paper. I told my husband about our night visitor, and he assumed I had just dreamt the whole thing. Unsure myself (I do have some fairly wacky waking dreams – ae.g. giant donner kebabs turning in the corner of the room) I went and got the camera. Evidence! I made him hunt all over downstairs for it, which he did manfully, feeling sorry for the ‘poor creature, it’s probably lost’ but it had disappeared. Presumably it went out the way it came… But who knows! Maybe its burrowed into the sofa! Maybe its coming back with its friends!
I’m going out for the day, and not leaving poor baby on his play mat downstairs for a while!
Much later on…
Feeling much less feary and hungover, I now feel fascinated by our night time intruder. I googled him, and it seems all Land Crabs are hatched at the coast (and yes, en masse, the eggs are laid in a ‘living carpet’ of hundreds of crabs, thank god I didn’t look that up last night). Then, somehow, this creature had managed to navigate at least 8 miles of crazy Kingston traffic to get to my house, a feat hard enough in a car, let alone in a little shell – however black and steely it looked at night. I told the security guard and the gardener who work on our compound about it, and they immediately began hunting for it with sticks in the garden, saying they were great to eat, and were very disappointed to not find it! I now kind of miss him, and hope he comes back. Next time I could be more friendly, maybe make him a pet and feed him worms, and take him for day trips to the beach…