Arañas de Rincón: Trophies of 2013

Today I’d like to commemorate the several Chilean recluse spiders who have died at the hands of Edwin or myself over the past couple of months.  After the one I blogged about in September, I’ve decided to document their tragic deaths, basically so that I can have the pictures as trophies.

Now, I must first say that I love spiders.  I had never been afraid of spiders up until this point—between living in Vermont and adoring Charlotte’s Web, I’ve never had a compelling reason to dislike them.  I’d never met a spider that could kill me before.

And then I saw my first araña de rincón, the Chilean recluse spider.  She was perched carefully above the doorframe.  She was quite large, maybe a little under two inches including the legs.  Edwin yelled, killed her, and then I became afraid of these Chilean recluses.

Meet the Chilean Recluse

Araña de rincón en el rincón!Why are they so scary?  First of all, they’re in your house.  Second, I’m not a huge fan of necrosis or possible death.

The spider’s names tell us quite a bit about its behavior: it is often found in corners (rincón) and is reclusive, meaning it usually won’t attack you.  In fact, a Chilean recluse probably won’t bite you unless it’s pressed against your skin.  That’s the good news.

The bad news is that, since they’re reclusive, they hide in dark, damp places, such as your bathroom cabinets, your closet, or that pile of clothes that you left at the foot of the bed last night.  And you don’t know they’re there.

The other bad thing is that if they bite you, your skin turns into a gaping, infected wound that either does not heal or else heals very slowly.  If you don’t believe me, just search “Chilean recluse spider bites.”  Not for the weak of heart.

Ways to identify the araña de rincón

Male Chilean recluse spider

  • Brown body and legs; the thorax is slightly lighter than the abdomen and often has a mark on it that resembles a violin (hence the nickname “fiddleback spider” in English)
  • About one to four centimeters in length, including the legs
  • Moves incredibly fast in comparison with other spiders and Spiderman
  • Has six eyes instead of eight

I love you, tiger spider!

Please note that this is quite different from the araña tigre, which cannibalizes the araña de rincón.  This spider has long, spindly legs that can be three times the length of its body.

Two things that come to mind when you see la tigre: 1.) O, blessèd spider!  Depart not from my bedside! 2.) SH***********OT WHERE ARE THE ARAÑAS DE RINCÓN???

Prevention and treatment of bites

The summertime is the busy season for Chilean recluse spider.  They reproduce and hunt more in the summer than any other time of the year, and so you should be especially wary if you’re here to enjoy the heat.

  • When getting clothing, shoes, or other items from a closet or dresser, make sure to shake them out before putting them on.
  • Check the bed sheets before going to sleep.
  • Don’t play in closets or under the bed… or anyplace you might go if you were a spider looking for a dark, quiet place to KILL.
  • Clean regularly!  Move your furniture and other things around to scare those suckers away.
  • DON’T KILL THE TIGER SPIDERS (see pic above): they eat the Chilean recluse and do you no harm!  Seriously, check it out.

If you are bitten:

  • If possible, catch or kill the spider so that you can bring it with you for identification
  • Usually there won’t be pain at first, but the bite will gradually start to redden
  • Apply ice to the bite to slow the process
  • Wash the area with soap and water
  • Get to a hospital for immediate medical attention.  This is very time sensitive!

And with that…

Happy New Year!

Stay cool!  Stay safe!  I, personally, will be heading back to the beautiful snow and ice of the Green Mountain State in another two weeks, so I will be recluse free!

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Reasons to Buy a Fanny Pack and Get On with Your Life

My fanny pack has received varied reactions from my gringo friends that range from disgust to mild amusement.  And then there are those who don’t even question it.  It’s just me being me.

If you are one of those who are highly resistant to the idea of donning a fanny pack, I hope to convince you that they’re worth it… especially as a gringo in Chile.

Handmade fanny packs from http://ultranaty.wordpress.com !!

1. Reduce your chances of being pick-pocketed.  It’s harder to steal a wallet, cash, credit cards, or condoms from a fanny pack.  (I don’t actually recommend carrying condoms in a fanny pack… or a wallet, for that matter.  Too much wear and tear for that to be safe.  MOVING ON.)  First of all, a fanny pack is situated in a place most people aren’t about to grope for.  Moreover, it’s more visible to you.  And there are fewer easy ways to access the cash—it’s zipped up, to name one.  But one factor in the lowered probability of pick-pocketing may just be…

2. Appear more Chilean than you really are.  Believe it or not, most gring@s aren’t about to hop on the fanny pack bandwagon.  So you will make people question whether or not you’re a gringo just by wearing one of these bad boys.  Don’t get me wrong, you still have to rock a fanny pack the right way.  Get one that suits your style—they come in all different colors, fabrics, and sizes.  And I feel cooler with mine when it hangs to the side just over my hip.

3. They’re convenient, comfortable, and can be cool.  If you’re used to a purse, you don’t have to carry it around anymore.  Who wants to always be thinking about that thing hanging from your shoulder?  It’s much more comfortable to wear a fanny pack.  Or maybe you’re one of those people who wear a wallet-shaped hole into their pockets from always carrying their wallet in the same exact place.  Not anymore.  It’s fanny pack time.

So, recap…

Rihanna rockin it.Reasons to strap on a banano and move on:

  1. Travel worry-free in the metro, la vega central, patronato, el persa biobío, and beyond.
  2. Blend in with Chileans
  3. BECAUSE COOLNESS: look at Rihanna wearing one to the left.

That’s it for today!  I am now headed off to celebrate Chile at some fondas!  I just stopped by my house to drop off my backpack and load up my fanny pack.  AWwww yeah.

Fanny pack users:  what do you love about your fanny pack?  Those of you who don’t yet don the banano: what is taking so long?