One of the great things about living in Quito is that very few bugs can survive at such a high altitude. Coming from Minnesota, where we affectionately refer to mosquitoes as our state bird, I was shocked to find that none of the buildings in the mountain metropolis had screens. Of course, what Quito lacked in insects it made up for in fluorescent yellow slugs, as my roommate, Chelsea, discovered when she accidentally squashed one of them between her bare toes.
Fortunately for the short of breath but unfortunately for the squeamish, Santiago hugs sea level quite a bit closer than its Ecuadorian counterpart. This means that, come spring, the city becomes a romp ground for the creepy, the crawly and the winged.
It started with the gradually swelling posses of flies that began to lurk overhead in my apartment about two weeks ago. Shortly thereafter, I fished out a voyeuristic bug that had somehow managed to make its way under my (recently washed) shirt. Today, two prehistoric-looking winged creatures spent the day perched (or dead?) on the floor of our office bathroom. And, last night, I dodged that noblest of bugs -- a cockroach -- as it scuttled across the sidewalk.
When compared to Minneapolis (or Washington D.C., where I went to college), Santiago is by no means a buggy city. It could be that this recent invasion of the six-legged has only called my attention because I recently spent 14 months several hundred meters above the majority of the world's insects. And, perhaps, because it means that spring has officially sprung.