Straining off broccoli will never be the same again.

07-02-2013 19:54

Cádiz is a peninsula that’s just as big as the city itself: where the houses stop, the ocean begins right after the citywall. All the houses are built really close to eachother in a try to prevent the burning sun to get in. But still both the heat and the humidity that makes the air heavy always find their way in. They seep down through the roofs, they creep through the thin walls with flaking stucco or they slip through one of the few barred little windows, to settle there inside the walls and the rooms, never to leave again. In all walls and rooms, but mainly those at the ground floor.  


I lived at the ground floor. I had a little window above my sink; a connection to the courtyard of the house. It wasn’t much bigger than two sheets of paper, but if I looked through the bars, I could see a little part of the neighbours’ wall though another little window above the front door. That way I could see in the morning if it was to be a sunny day or not. But my little window didn’t contribute much to the air circulation in my room; it would always be dark and humid. Yet I was quite surprised and a little startled when I saw two cockroaches as big as my thumb running over the crooked tiles towards the side of the room where my bed was. I tried to find them before I went to sleep, but with no end. That night I lay awake for quite some time, trying to get Pajaro’s remark “if you see one, there are ten more hiding somewhere close,” out of my head. I had seen two.

But you get used to it. Pretty soon I was familiar with the “kchrtsj… kchrtsj…” of their little feet scratcing on the floor, and I had bought an “anti-cucaracha” spray at the supermarket. I used it now and then, a little hesitating: my room did not really fit the description of the “open space” with “good air circulation” mentioned at the aerosol can, a condition that should be satisfied to prevent me from being killed by my own cockroach-hunt in a tragic way. One time I found a lost black beetle in my bed, but generally they didn’t get any further than the kitchen and it’s immediate environment.


After that first shock and a short habituation period, today las cucarachas scored their 2-0. Because the water supply had been turned off at arbitrary moments this whole week, I had been eating out every day; perforce. I mean, dirty dishes and cockroaches are not an ideal combination, and what else can you do when you’re not sure if there’ll be water? Right. Risk-management, Spanish way. I can be a fast learner sometimes. But now I had been able to take a shower in the morning again for three days in a row, and I saw that the big hole in the sidewalk near the front door was gone, so I assumed that there was a connection between those two findings, and that it was time to start cooking my own meals again.

One second after I started straining off the broccoli, about twenty swarming cockroaches were covering the bottom of my sink. In that one second they all had crawled out of the plughole, and they were conceivably more panicked than I was. It didn’t even cross my mind to calculate what twenty visible cockroaches meant according to Pajaro’s invisible-cucaracha-formula. A little dazzled I stood there with the pan of broccoli in my hands, while watching a few of these huge insects getting out of the sink already, driven by their adrenaline, and rushing off in different directions to go and discover the rest of my room. Most of them were still completely disoriented though, running in circles in the sink. (By then I was experienced enough to distinguish a disoriented cockroach from a non-disoriented one.) While my heart tried to find it’s normal rythm again, I looked at the broccoli floating piteous in the water that was left in the pan, and to all the swarming with six feet and two antennas going on at the bottom of the sink. I decided that this was an extraordinary situation that required extraordinary measures; resolutely I grabbed the green-and-yellow aerosol can. Sorry guys.

Straining off broccoli will never be the same again.



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