Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Monsters and Me

All humans are solar processors.

It's one of the more interesting ideas that I teach. Any plant life we eat obviously grew with help from the sun. Any animals we eat sustained itself off of those sun-grown plants, or other animals that did. So one way or another we are processing solar energy.

In studying latitude we learn that the amount of sunlight a place receives directly correlates to how much life it can sustain. Pole to Pole by Planet Earth explains it best (and in a British accent).

For example, you don't see trees above the Arctic or below the Antarctic Circle because there isn't enough light for them to grow. The closer to the Equator you get the more light you get. So first you get pine trees, then broad leaf trees, and finally you get to the tropics where there is direct sunlight year round.

Here we find jungles and rain forests, like where 50% of the world's biodiversity is found in rain forests even though they only cover 3% of the Earth's surface. There is so much light, so much plant matter, so many bugs and animals. And there is also me.

Living in a tropical environment means 1.) It's never cold. 2.) The sun sets around the same time all year. 3.) Your home will be invaded by weird and awful bugs.

To wit: in the week since I moved into my ground level apartment I have found inside my dwelling both a monster centipede and an unbelievably fast lizard.

I excitedly hurried off to tell my girlfriend about both of them, but when we returned they were gone. The lizard hasn't been seen since. We named him Gummy and presumably he is living comfortably in our spare bedroom eating bugs. The centipede reappeared and was smashed by my girlfriend's shoe. It sounded like the crunch of 1,000 potato chips. Haunting.

"I just wanted to cuddle."
Photo from thepanamanews.com
Though my school is miles away from the ocean, blue crabs wonder the halls on occasion, and I'm sure this is only the tip of the iceberg for weird bugs.

All new things I've experienced here fit into two categories: awesome or terrifying. Socially acceptable to honk my horn whenever I want? Awesome. Stepping on  hundred-legged Darth Vader clones while going to take a pee? Terrifying.

Time will no doubt round down both those edges. Maybe one day I'll wake up in Panama and smile at the lizard in peering down at me.

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