Here's something you might not know about me: I'm phobic of insects. This has improved markedly over my life, but these remain the only thing I could really say I have an irrational fear of...anyone who knows me well has seen it in action and knows that it remains an issue. The only recurring nightmare I've ever had is one about insects (the atmosphere being made of insects, actually). There were several times as a teenager when I saw a single cricket or beetle on the hall wall and proceeded to lock myself in my room, screaming and crying and unable to come out. There are parts of the world I feel sure I won't visit because of what I've heard about their insects. It's like that. That's why when I had a bed bug experience in my hotel in Nearest Metropolis last night, I really had to fight to not become completely, cart-her-off-to-the-hospital hysterical.
So I arrived at my hotel - a small budget hotel that I once stayed at years ago, that is well loved and gets fawning write-ups in travel guides for being so lovely and yet so miraculously inexpensive - at about 9 last night. I was checking email and things when I all of a sudden felt quite itchy in several different places. I wondered about bed bugs, and so googled them. Then I did a thorough search of the sheets and pillows and mattresses. I puzzled over some tiny rust-coloured pieces of somthing, squinting at them under the lamp and trying to determine whether they were bugs and deciding they were not. (They were, I realize in retrospect - given what I read on the Internet - actually bed bug shit.) I tried to figure out what to do...my gut was telling me something was wrong, but I didn't know what I'd say to the hotel management (not realizing I had evidence in the form of bug shit!)
Anyway, I went out for an hour or so, and came back and felt decidedly itchy again. Debated what to do about it - ran through the conversation in my mind, and decided to just stay put, after having examined the bed pieces again. Put on my pyjamas and went to bed, feeling quite crawly but telling myself I was imagining it. It took me quite a while to fall asleep. Something woke me up when I'd just drifted off - gee, IT MUST HAVE BEEN THE LARGE BEDBUG THAT I SAW FALLING OUT OF MY HAIR ONTO THE PILLOW AND SCURRYING AROUND ON THE BED WHEN I RAISED MY HEAD, STARTLED AWAKE.)
This is when hysteria occurred. I don't quite know how I managed to pull myself together enough to get out of my pyjamas, into some clothes - it had to be in the dark, because I couldn't stand the thought of seeing the thing while I was actually "unguarded." Went downstairs to the front desk. The guy there moved me immediately - seriously upgraded me actually. I went back upstairs to get my stuff and was able to find the bed bug, on guard as I now was in proper clothes. It was a huge one. I took a very long shower, washing my hair three times. The front desk guy made chamomile tea for me. I put all the clothes that I'd worn on the bed in the hotel room in a tightly sealed plastic bag. I examined the bedding in my new room - it really seems fine - no shit this time. But I'm not sure what to do. I'm so tired I can't even think straight - this all happened at 1:15 and it took me hours to calm down enough to sleep for maybe three hours. While I was lying awake, I thought I'd just leave the city and go back home late this afternoon, after my meeting - instead of staying until Monday. The thought of making that ridiculously long and cramped bus ride again the very next day, though, makes me want to cry. I just wanted to have a little fun weekend here, after my meeting - and after what was actually a very long week!
Anyway, the major lesson here is to trust my gut!!
Update: I'm leaving tonight.