Jane Wilson-Howarth

Blog

 
 

A Beast of Astonishing Size

Sunday, 03 June 2018
Before venturing into the mountains in Nepal, I thought – but only in passing – about the possible hazards I might face. The biggest, undoubtedly, would be driving off the road, as vehicles often do, in this land of steep contours and landslides. I expected to be staying in a proper concrete building – with other PHASE staff – at around 2000m above sea level so the chances of encountering tropical nasties would be minimal, or so I thought.
The journey from Kathmandu to Bhotang took nine hours. I was warmly welcomed, and given someone else’s bed but the mattress was so thin as to be unworthy of the title. I’m getting too used to the soft life, clearly: I didn’t sleep that well. One night I was aware of something crawling up my bare arm. Bugs don’t spook me generally but I thought I should check what species wanted to climb into my sleeping bag with me. I found my head torch to see  a slightly discombobulated harvestman. It set off on a different course off my arm and up the wall while I was thinking how good it was not to have to worry about scorpions.
Next morning as I was organising body and brain I noticed – on the ceiling directly above where my head had been – a beast of astonishing size. An ambush predator big enough to devour lizards and bats. I reckoned (but I didn’t pick it up) that it must have weighed much more than a mouse. I suppose it shouldn’t have been a surprise that this creature was in the family of spiders boasting the largest spans in the world.
I’ve met smaller versions of these giant crab spiders in caves in Nepal where you can actually hear them scuttling across cave walls.
This one seemed dozy if coy about having her photo taken. When I slid my fingers close – for scale – she ran onto my bed, which I was less than enthusiastic about. Saraswati came to the rescue though. She encouraged the beast onto a dustpan and put her outside. I asked her if they bite, to which Saraswati responded unhesitatingly, ‘They bite.’ She didn’t elaborate but I knew spider venom kills flesh so bites take a while to heal.
A few days later, returning from visiting patients, the owner of the house where we were staying greeted us with an outpouring of angst. As often happens when people are traumatised I followed very little of what was said in her fast-flowing Nepali but I saw her stretch both arms wide to indicate that something two metres long had been in the loo. It was green. The chances of encountering a properly venomous snake in the hills are small; the commonest species are the so-called rat snakes which harm no-one, but still upset people a great deal.
Next morning at dawn, I woke to low chanting and went out to see a lama squatting close to the loo, burning incense and murmuring incantations. Only later did I see he’d built a scene with slivers of bamboo threaded through giant winged seeds and fashioned a scrap of cloth on another sliver to resemble a miniature prayer flag. He had created a tiny square. Inside the square he’d marked a network of geometric patterns with powder (probably ground millet) and there was a hen’s egg in the middle.
The neighbour explained this was a nag puja – to keep snakes away.
 
A giant crab spider of astonishing size was on the ceiling above my bed
 
The lama made this square and chanted his nag puja to keep away snakes
Posted: 03/06/2018 04:02:32 by cmsadmin | with 0 comments
Filed under: Bhotang, giant crab spider, lama, nag puja, Nepal, rat snake, spider venom



    Pontifications
    Travel
    Wildlife
    Writing
    July 2020(1)
    June 2020(1)
    May 2020(1)
    April 2020(4)
    March 2020(4)
    January 2020(1)
    October 2019(2)
    June 2019(2)
    April 2019(2)
    March 2019(9)
    January 2019(2)
    October 2018(3)
    August 2018(3)
    June 2018(4)
    May 2018(5)
    April 2018(3)
    March 2018(1)
    January 2018(4)
    October 2017(4)
    August 2017(3)
    July 2017(2)
    June 2017(2)
    May 2017(1)
    April 2017(1)
    March 2017(4)
    January 2017(1)
    October 2016(7)
    August 2016(2)
    July 2016(1)
    June 2016(1)
    January 2016(3)
    October 2015(1)
    August 2015(1)
    July 2015(1)
    May 2015(2)
    April 2015(2)
    March 2015(2)
    January 2015(3)
    October 2014(4)
    July 2014(1)
    June 2014(4)
    May 2014(1)
    April 2014(1)
    January 2014(4)
    October 2013(1)
#righttobreathe / 100 word story / 100-word story / 50 Camels / 50 Camels and She's Yours / A Glimpse of Eternal Snows / A Wide Woman on a Narrow Boat / Aberdeen / Abuja / Active Fairness System / adventure stories / advertising / affairs / age concern / air pollution / air quality / Akwanga / alcoholism / Alicia Ostriker / Americanisms / animal reservoirs / ANM / Annapurna / antelope / anthology / Asad / author / Author from Hull / author interview / author-to-author / Auxiliary Nurse Midwife / Baglung / Bagmati / Bajaj / Bajaj Pulsar / Bajura / banknotes / BBC Radio Cambridgeshire / bear precautions / Benjamin Langley / Bertrand Russell / Bhotang / bicycle / bike trip / birdlife / birds / black bear / black kites / black pine forest / Blitz / Bloodshot Books / Blue sheep / book launch / border guards / Boreal Wildlife Centre / Bradt / Bradt Travel Guides / Brahmin / breakfast / bridge / brown bear / buckwheat / buckwheat bird / buffalo cart / bulbul / camaraderie / Cambridge / Cambridge writers / Cambridgeshire / camping hazards / canals / carcinogens / caste / catastrophe / cave diving / celtic / chaite-dhan / Chandragiri / Chele / childbirth / children's books / Chirang / Chisapaani / Chisapani / Chobhar / Chobhar Hill / Chough / city cycling / civet / climate change / clinics / cold desert / colourful hat / comfort / coronavirus / Covid / Covid-19 / cows / creating characters / cycling / cyclist / daisy chain / dal bhat / dangerous wildlife / dawn chorus / Dead Branches / demonstration / Department of Roads / desert / development / development work / Devon / Dhading / Dhading besi / Dhangadhi airport / Dhaulagiri / Dhee / dhulomandu / Dolpa / Dolpo / domestic violence / Dr. Katrina Butterworth / dragon / dragons / Drakmar / droppings / Dunai / dust / early marriage / earthquake / earthquake alarm / earthquake damage / earthquake today / East Anglia / eco-resort / eco-tourism / Edinburgh / elbow sneezing / embankments / emergency / English journey / English language / environmental crisis / Eräkeskus / eternal snows / evacuation / Ewell / expat / exploitation / Fagu Purnima / Falgun / feelgood read / Fens / festival / festival of colour / festivals in March / fiction / Finland / fire-tailed sunbird / fishing / fishtail / flash fiction / flash literature / flash prose / flood protection / floods / football / footbridge / footpath / forest / forest fires / friends / Gai Tihar / gaming / Ganesh himal / Gangetic Plain / garment / Ghami / Ghemi / ghoral / giant crab spider / giving birth / global warming / goodread / goral / gorge / Gorkha / gossip / GP writer / Greece / grey-headed canary-flycatcher / handwashing / hangry / happiness / happyness / hare / Hatibhan / health assistant / Heffers / Heffers bookshop / Hell's Grannies / himal / Himalaya / Himalayan Black Bear / Himalayan Goral / Himalayan griffon vulture / Himalayan Hostages / Himalayan Kidnap / Himalayan serow / Himalayan Sunrise / Himalayan woolly hare / Himalayas / himals / Hindu festival / Hindu kingdom / Holi / Holi Purnima / holocaust / home delivery / honey buzzard / hoopoe / horror / hot springs / Hotel Deep of Worldtop / Hotel Peace Palace / house crows / how long to write a book? / human kind / human spirit / idyllic childhood / Indonesia / Indra Jatra / infidelity / inspiration / inspiring fiction for children / Ireland / irrigation / Is She Dead in Your Dreams? / jackal / Janajibika Hotel / Jane Wilson-Howarth / Jews / Joe Wilson / Jomosom / Jomsom / jungle / Jungle book / Juphal / Kaag Beni / Kag Beni / Kali Gandaki / Kali Gandaki gorge / Kalopani / Kalunki / Karnali River / Kashigaon / Kashigoan / Kathmandu / Kathmandu Valley / Katrina Butterworth / kestrel / khana / Khartoum / kickstart / kidnap / kindness / Kipling / Kipling's jungle / kites / Kolkata / Krishna / Kumari / Kurds / Kurentar / Kusma / labour / ladoos / lama / Lamjung himal / lammergeier / lammergeyer / landscape / landslide / landslides / Large Indian civet / largest tribuary of the Ganges / Laxmi Puja / leave no one behind / leave no-one behind / letter-writing / life lessons / living goddess / lockdown / LoMantang / Lombok / London pigeon / loneliness / Lord Ganesh / Lord Krishna / loss and recovery / love / Lukhu river / Machhapuchare / Makwanpur / Manbu / mani wall / married life / Martinselkosen / Mary Kingsley / masala tea / maskmandu / masks / maternal mortality / Maya and the Dragon / medical emergency / medical evacuation / medical Students / Melamchi / memoir / Michael Rosenberg / microfiction / middle grade readers / Middle Hills / mineral water bottles / Monsoon / morning mist / Moth Snowstorm / motorbike / motorbike trip / motorbikes / motorcycle / mountain medicine / mountains / mouse hare / mouse-hare / Muktinath / Mukwanpur / mulberries / Mustang / nag puja / narrow boat / nature / Naubisi / neighbours / Nepal / Nepal Communitere / Nepal road trip / Nepal roadtrip / Nepal Valley / Nepal wildlife / Nepali / Nepali food / Nepali tea / Nepali Times / Nepali topi / Nepali wildlife / Nigeria / Nigiri himal / nilgai / Nilgiri / Nilgiri South / non-fiction / Nonsuch Palace / Nonsuch Park / Northumberland / novel / nuthatch / Nuwakot / obstetrics / orb spider / ox-cart / pangolin / parenting / Passer montanus / passing places / passive pleasure / Patan / Patan Durbar / Patan Durbar Square / payer / People in Need charity / percussion / PHASE / PHASE Nepal / PHASENepal / Phewa Tal / Philippines / Phoksundo / phonetics / photoktm2016 / pigeons / pika / pike / pilgrims / plastic waste / pleasure / PM 2.5 / Pokhara / Police My Friend / pollution / polytunnel / pony trekking / post earthquake recovery / powder / pregnancy / Pridhamsleigh Cavern / puja / Pul Chowk / Pulsar / Pungmo / Purnima programme / Pyncnonotus cafer / rabies / Rajapur / Rajapur bazaar / Rajapur Island / Rajapur market / Rajapur town / rat snake / reading / Real Fairness for Real men / reconstructed dialogue / Red Dawn Rising / red-vented bulbul / refugees / relief work / Remover of obstacles / rhododendron / rice / ricefields / Richard Mabey / Ringmo / risk takers / river crossing / river island / river-crossing / road trip / roadtrip / Rock Doves / rock shelters / Roe Deer / Royal Enfield Riders Club / Royle's pika / rubbish / Rufus-breasted Niltava / rupees / Russian border / Sally Haiselden / samosa / Sarengkot / sarus cranes / scorpion / screening / Second World War / Seeta Siriwardena / self-harm / serow / Shangri La / Shangri-la / Shanti bazaar / Shey-Phoksundo National Park / Shivapuri / Shivapuri Nagajung National Park / Shivapuri National Park / Shivapuri Village / Shivapuri Village Resort / short fiction / short story / shrikes / silk / Simon Howarth / Sindhupalchowk / Sinhala / Sinhalese / Six degrees of Separation / skipper butterflies / skippers / snow leopard / Snowfed Waters / solid waste / solid waste disposal / Soti / South Sudan / sparrows / Speaking Tiger / species leap / spider venom / Spiny babblers / spotted owlet / squirrel / Sri Lanka / Sri Lankan author / Stephanie Green / stink bug / street art / street dogs / Subsistence agriculture / Sudan / Suli Gad Khola / Suli Gad river / Summit Air / sunbird / sunrise / Surrey / suspended bridge / Sussex / Suttee / Tahr / tar tattoo / tato pani / Tatopani / TBS Kathmandu / tea / tea shop / teacher / teashop / Teku / Teku Hospital / Teku infectious diseases hospital / terai / Thamel / Thankot / Tharu / Tharu people / The Book Warren / The British School Kathmandu / The Lonely Cat / Thessaloniki / time / To be blessed / totobobo / traffic / traffic jam / traffic rules / traffic uncles / transHimalaya / transHimalayan / travel anthology / travel narrative / travel writing / traveling with children / travelling with children / tree sparrows / trekking / trust / Tsirang / Twin Otter / Uganda / unplanned pregnancy / Upper Mustang / urban cycling / urban life / urban pollution / urban water supply / Valley / vampires / vegetarian / velvet-fronted nuthatch / Viiksimontie / Village dogs / village life / vulture / Wai / Wanderlust / water supplies / water tankers / West Sussex / western Nepal / white lies / WHO / widower / wild goat / wild places / wildlife / wildlife stories / winter madness / winter Wheat / women of a certain age / Women Travellers / words / wordsmith / World Book Day / World Book Day 2020 / World Cup 1990 / World Environment Day / world's deepest gorge / writers group / writer's life / writing / writing about writing / writing characters / writing exercise / writing for children / writing group / writing habits / writing prompts / year fives / yeti / young mother / young motherhood / Your Child Abroad / zoonoses