I was participating in a Christian camp which took place over several months. You could join and leave as you saw fit, only you were expected to stay for at least 3 months. The retreat was not a classy, glamorous or comfortable establishment, it was a charming, tiny seven bedroom, one kitchen, one bathroom miniature farm-house on a large plot of land in the rural desert of the Eastern Cape. I remember, on one occasion pondering how people actually traveled around in these areas without a car, you could definitely not walk or camp safely in the Karoo desert. The scorched pasturage, blistering temperatures and burned orange grasslands stretch for miles, with only plants and creatures that can survive in such conditions, such as reptilian/s or snakes; counting the Cape Cobra (Naja Nivea) with a powerful neurotoxic bite causing paralysis and shutting down your breathing system, the rinkhals also called the ring-necked spitting cobra which perches itself up and sprays venom into ones eyes causing blindness, and the puff adder which is a venomous viper snake which is responsible for most human fatalities in comparison to any other African snake, not to mention, and it addition to dangerous and deadly spiders like, the black widow (button spider) which has a trademark red hourglass figure on their round, sleek, black abdomen. Button spiders have neurotoxic venom which attacks ones central nervous system, and symptoms include abdominal cramps, excruciating muscle pain, excessive sweating and irregular temperature and other painful physical exertion. All of the animals mentioned above, which are only a select few which resided in the area, are responsible for human fatalities throughout the annual year in South Africa. In my time there, on the farm land, of the more wild animals, we encountered; the puff adder, rattle snake and button spider, as well as, a sprightly humming bird in the exquisite and picturesque dawn hours, perched on the fence, attempting to gain entry to a nest of larvae within the wooden post. The humming bird is most definitely a graceful and beautiful creature to marvel at. Needless to say, cleanliness was of the highest priority, regular sweeping and upkeep of every area of the farm-house. We spent a lot of time indoors, and I was exceptionally surprised when we turned the outside pond into a pool, half expecting a water-snake, water-scorpion or other deadly critter to have made its home there within the day. We were all expected to carry out a specific chore during particular hours which could be anything from baking bread, sweeping the patio or feeding the chickens. I can tell you that none of us were particularly enthusiastic to perform cleaning duties and I suspect the some of girls slacked or neglected their duty as far as possible, at times.
It was a cool day, strangely and we took the time to sit and chat as everyone had just finished duties/chores. It was around 12:00 noon and we had about a half-hour before lunch. Those of us that were smokers, myself included, also needed and cherished the "luxury" break before the activities re-commenced for the day. About 5 girls were sitting on a stone, white bench, while 3 or 4 of us were standing, and we were all giggling and "skinnering" (the South African word for ladies chatter) while delighting and savoring in the free time. Suddenly, I felt a pull in the pit of my stomach. I could hear the girls chatting but their voices seemed to be coming from another room, I actually, completely zoned out. As cliche' as it sounds, everything literally went into slow motion, I could see my hair slowly brushing over my eye in the warm Karoo wind as I looked to the vivid, multicolored horizon. I looked at the bench and I intuitively knew with 100% certainty that the girl responsible for cleaning the patio had neglected to check the bench carefully or even, clean it. I felt, somewhat like someone was trespassing on my territory or too close for comfort, and I felt threatened. Immediately, I sternly and calmly told the girls "GET UP!" They paused for a moment and looked at me inquisitively, but, they listened and cooperated nicely with me. "Get up!" I said, again. When they had all gotten up and off the bench, they looked and me and said, "Kiki, what's wrong?" And with that, I knelt down on one leg and proceeded to turn the bench on its side so that we could see the underneath. Right where, a young girls leg had been carelessly and unwittingly brushing and moving was a black widows/button spiders nest, and I say nest but it was more like, nests. The nests covered the entirety of the underneath of the bench, hundreds of button spiders from babies to monster-size spiders with their bright red buttoxes scurried along their web/s performing their individual duties. I remember thinking, when I look at all of these spiders and their nests, I really do feel compassionate, softened and sorrowful because they will have to be "removed", but, this is actually a death trap!
Management was called to sweep the spiders out and to my surprise, nobody was excessively thankful towards me. Furthermore, I expected there to be a new addition to the program that day which would include, a thorough shouting at and accountability cannonball regarding cleaning duties, but, that never happened either.