I confess, I have a phobia. Me? The oh so fearless one you say?
Did you know that my name “Tracy” means – bold and courageous. Boy, did my parents get that wrong.
Yes, I have an irrational overwhelming fear that I live with constantly especially when partaking of my favourite activity which happens to take me where it is highly likely that I will encounter the very thing which I fear with such intensity.
The activity is camping, so can you guess what the fear is?
I bet you can’t.
No, it’s not a fear of snakes.
I am fascinated by snakes and despite the fact that we have, what is it, seven of the ten most deadliest snakes in the world here in Australia, they do not bother me much, because snakes really don’t intentionally seek out humans.
In all our years of camping we’ve only seen a handful of snakes, usually dead on the road, so snakes are not really an issue.
Of course, you must be sensible, and aware. Zip the tent up, don’t walk in long grass if you can help it, don’t lift up rocks or logs or poke around in snakey areas.
Just common sense really.
I’ve had more encounters with snakes inside my HOUSE than out in the bush anyway.
One red belly black came inside a house we were living in to shed it’s skin and another, a whip snake I believe, slithered under my chair once when I had the door leading outside open.
Of course I screamed when THAT happened. Who wouldn’t. Especially because the cat and then the DOG decided to chase the snake, and that wasn’t a good scenario.
Nobody got hurt, the snake slithered off and everybody was just a little bit excited for a while.
I’m not paranoid about spiders either, though I have more fear of those than snakes, simply because they are harder to see.
My husband got bitten by a white tail spider once. Turned his leg into a real mess. Rotted the flesh, God it stunk. He was lucky though, only the scar remains. Some people lose limbs!
Spiders here are a part of life, especially huge huntsman spiders which frequently hide in the car, in places like behind the sun viser thing on the windscreen, and THAT is the main danger they pose. Giving drivers heart attacks while the vehicle is in motion.
They don’t mean to be scary and they don’t purposely seek out humans, they just like to hide in dark places like shoes.
Spiders are ok, even in the bush I don’t fear them.
So what is my irrational fear?
The thing that sets me off screaming in uncontrolled hysteria?
I don’t know why. I don’t know how or where it began. I can’t even remember my first encounter with a leech but if there’s anything that triggers a massive anxiety response in me it is the presence of these slimy little blood sucking buggers.
Unfortunately because of the tropical nature of most of our outdoor environments here near the coast the likelihood of encountering leeches is quite high. This is why I like the outback so much, because it’s dry and there ARE no leeches in the desert!
But anywhere close to home and even AT home, sometimes there are the dreaded leech encounters!
Imagine my horror one day when I discovered a leech in our kitchen SINK!
Like I said in that video, it’s just the way they MOVE…..In the bush they CHASE you! Seek you out and move towards you at alarming speed and once they get those disgusting mouthparts IN you it’s impossible to get them off unless you have a container of salt at the ready to sprinkle on them whereby they shrivel up and drop off.
Nothing deters them, not even drenching yourself in insecticide, and the worst part is that they burrow in your shoes, socks, clothing and you don’t even know they’re THERE sucking your blood because their bite is painless – they release some kind of anesthetic thing so you can’t FEEL them.
Horrifically sneaky if you ask me.
I remember once trekking down this huge hill behind our house and when we got to the bottom, where there was a pretty little stream suddenly I saw ALL these leeches.
In a mere nano second I developed super human fitness skills (I am not fit, hadn’t done anything more than a fast walk in years, and at that time I was a heavy smoker)
I literally sprinted back up that incredibly steep hill at lightning speed. I don’t think my feet even touched the ground the whole way up and when I got inside the house clothing was ripped off for a thorough inspection of all body parts to make entirely SURE that no leeches had attached their horrid little selves to me.
I never ever went down that hill again, no matter how pretty the scene at the bottom.
In general I avoid walking in places where there may be leeches, but you can’t help it sometimes, especially when out camping.
We just got back from a camping trip yesterday with some friends and their kids.
Went to a really pretty spot, near a river which flowed from a dam further up the hill….
Of course, we had to go for a walk by the river, following it all the way up to the dam wall at the top.
As we walked my girlfriend, who also apparently has a fear of leeches wondered out loud to herself at the possibility of encountering leeches, and mentioned the fact that we hadn’t brought any salt with us on the walk.
So that was it, the thought was impregnated into my brain.
“Leeches…are there leeches, where are the leeches, look out for leeches….run if you see leeches….”
I didn’t see any, and I looked carefully. Thought to myself, nah….it’s not leechy territory. Too dry, not enough rain recently….probably ok.
I relaxed a little and kept walking.
It was nice, pretty…..good to see the kids being “kids”, out in the sunshine, enjoying nature.
I was last in line as we trekked alongside the river (which at the moment is more like a small stream)…busy fiddling with my camera (which hasn’t been working properly lately!)
And then it happened.
I saw something on my cargo pants leg.
It was thin and it was MOVING!
OhmyGodohmyGodohmyGod IT’S ………A LEECH!!!!!
Well that was it.
I was frozen on the spot and all I could scream were the same words over and over again.
“GET IT OFF ME! GET IT OFF ME! GET IT OFF ME!!!!!”
“What….What? Get what off you?” everybody gathered round me now said.
“”GET IT OFF!!!!!”
“What….There’s nothing there?”
Confusion….hysteria….paralysis….FEAR…uncertainty….calming down a little bit now….removing ones sunglasses now…..looking closer at the thing on my pants leg now…..Oh my….no, it can’t be….how embarrassing…..how to save face NOW…. a moment of silence and then…my own hysterical LAUGHTER.
It wasn’t a leech.
It was the buckle thing under the pocket of my cargo pants.
Yeah, well….Fear has a good imagination!
And my eyes are not good.
I really honestly THOUGHT it was a leech wriggling round. The motion as I walked made the buckle move….
It really DID for a few seconds, look like something was squirming.
I’m SO glad there weren’t hoards of other people around to witness my moment of silly hysterical totally irrational behaviour.
But next time, I WON’T forget the salt.