In Mexico on another trip, when we checked in to a famous hotel where the pool is covered with a floating garden of white flowers—gardenias I think—the children and I were looking forward to a peaceful evening. Tired when we reached our room, I didn’t at first notice the truly huge black thing with 100 (okay, maybe six or eight) legs that hung on the wall. I knew this didn’t bode well for a peaceful night, as I’d valiantly defend my children from this awful thing.
Frantically, I called the office—which must have been a fun conversation in my poor Spanish and the clerk’s poor English—which took time. Finally, a consoling voice in response to my rambling said, “Ah, yes, tarantula—no problema, Señora.”
No problema, my foot! Even my bad Spanish recognized the name—tarantula is exactly how it sounds, even if one changes the stress on the word. The voice finally agreed to send someone to take care of the little (“little”—ha!) bug. The thing on the wall grew larger each time I looked at it. Within a few minutes, a semi-sympathetic man appeared with a large broom that he used to sweep the wall, attacking and killing our threat.
I didn’t sleep too well that night, perhaps waiting for angry relatives of Big T to avenge his death. Instead, I looked at the pool below, where the lights still showed the lovely flowers, and thought about Cortez, the conqueror from Spain, who traveled this way from Veracruz hundreds of years before. I wondered if he’d run into tarantulas, too. (The fourth novel in my Briana Fraser series, which won’t be out for months, is titled Mexican Marimbas. We’re working on book three, China Caper, now! )