Something woke me up that morning, right around dawn. Not sure if it was sound or movement, but something was definitely going on. That’s not exactly unusual in a hostel room, but this seemed…different. I figured I should probably take a look around so I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, rolled up on a shoulder and that’s when I saw something perched on the corner of my bed in silhouette, less than a foot away…
A bunch of primal thoughts immediately exploded in my brain. Much like an internet comment thread, they were in all caps, largely irrational and punctuated with way too many exclamation points. Thoughts like “TARANTULA!?!?” and “AAAHHHHHHH!!!”, for instance. Then my living nightmare took a few awkward steps into the light and I saw that oversized claw.
A fiddler crab? Seriously? I breathed a sigh of relief. What the hell, crab? Don’t you have a patty stand to run?Or a rousing, calypso-inspired song and dance number to lead?
I guess not. I admit, I did feel a little better. Crab beats tarantula any day in my book. But there was still a big freakin’ fiddler crab in my bed and I had to figure out what to do with him.
Of course, the first thing I did was reach for my camera. I had to get a few shots just to rule out the chance that this was a dream or a rum-fueled hallucination, neither of which were outside the realm of possibility. Then I tried to pick him up by his big claw because, well, it seemed like that was the closest thing he had to a handle. It was not a handle. He made that abundantly clear. I snatched my hand back and came in from the side instead, getting hold of one of his non-pinchy legs (yes, that is the scientific term). I carried him over to the room’s trash can, dropped him in with a startlingly loud “thunk” and hustled him outside where I gave him his freedom.
You might think that, at this point, he would gratefully acknowledge my efforts, maybe with a little crabby bow, before disappearing into the brush or down a hole. Shockingly, that was not the case. Instead, he just kind of freaked out for a while, running around frantically and waving those claws at me with a rage again typically reserved for spittle-flecked internet rants. I got the feeling he was letting me know that “this”, whatever “this” was, wasn’t over. Not by a long shot, pal.
I’m still not sure how he got in the room, but I have a guess. The room had two doors, an outer solid door and an inner screen door. The bathroom was outside of the dorm and I remember when I went out to pee that night around 4AM that the screen door was closed but the outer door was open a few inches. One of my dorm mates had neglected to shut it when they had come in that night. I suspect Mr. Crab thought he had found a new home and he cozied up in that space between the doors. Then when I opened up the screen door in the dark, he slipped into the room while I went out. Either that, or maybe he was hiding under my bed the whole time, but I try not to let my mind go there.
As for how he found the strength and determination necessary to scale the 18 inches from the floor to my mattress, I have no idea. Maybe as dawn broke, he was attracted to the only source of light in the room. Maybe he was heading for my throat, seeking vengeance for the countless loved ones lost to all-you-can-eat seafood buffets. Or maybe, like George Mallory said about climbing Everest, he did it simply because it was there. Regardless, that’s how I woke up with crabs. Well, one of them, anyway. It was definitely a first. I’m really hoping it’s also a last.