Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Ants in My Pants, Vol. 2

As I spent the last weekend of June without shoes, it seems only appropriate that I would spend the first weekend of July without pants.

Let me explain. Shortly before heading to our would-be dry expat Fourth of July Party on Saturday, a friend and I paid a visit to Huajuapan's very own archaeological site, called Cerro de las Minas. The cerro (that's "hill" in Spanish) was once home to a Mixtec pyramid. (What better way to celebrate 'Merica's birthday than by tromping about on the 500-year-old ruins of a once-powerful indigenous culture? I'll let you sort out the irony.) Today that pyramid is really just a glorified pile of rocks on a pretty green hill, but, really, how many of you can say you live down the road from a former pyramid?

That's what I thought.

At any rate, we cheerily began our ascent up the hill on that sunny Saturday afternoon. Clad in flip-flops and jeans, we didn't exactly take the climb seriously. That is, until, my cerro companion, a local guy with a knack for all things Mixteco, spotted some ants marching along the grass.

"Be careful with those, they really sting," he warned me.

Now, where I come from, ants are little more than nuisances, invading the occasional picnic or unkempt kitchen. They're rarely cause for alarm. Little did I know that these Mexican ants, known as hormiga arriera, apparently emerge from the ground -- the depths of hell, as far as I'm concerned -- when the temperatures go up in the summer. Hormiga arriera translates to "leaf-cutter ants" in English (as per Wikipedia), which would imply that they're peaceful, plant-eating types of critters. Vegetarians, if you will. However, I quickly found that this was not the case: perhaps Wikipedia should replace "leaf" with "flesh" in the translation.

Flesh-cutting ants.

I apparently placed my flip-flop clad foot right in the middle of an hormiga arriera colony while attempting to take a picture of the piles of rocks on the pretty green hill (posted above). And, apparently, an ant climbed onto my flip-flop clad foot and right up my leg. And then, apparently, it got mad.

AGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG!!! (I might have said something a bit stronger here, but this, after all, is a family-friendly blog.)

Fire pulsed from the back of my left thigh and quickly spread through my entire leg. I flounced around on my remaining good leg, howling in pain, tears stinging my eyes. I thrashed about at my jeans, attempting to kill the culprit, but instead, managed to merely scare it, causing that damn flesh-cutter to scurry further up my thigh and sting me twice more.

"For the love of God, Sara, take off your pants!" my hiking companion pleaded, doing a good job of feigning concern while smirking ever so slightly.

I quickly de-pantsed, leaving me standing at the top of Cerro de las Minas in my pink underwear, whimpering as my friend carefully turned my pants inside out, shook out the now-dead ant, and mustered his sternest face to keep himself from laughing out loud at me.

Never had I been so grateful that Huajuapan isn't exactly a tourist hotspot: We were the only souls on Cerro de las Minas that afternoon, so nobody saw me in my undies, except maybe for a groundskeeper who appeared about five minutes after the ant attack, presumably to see what the commotion was all about.

I'm still not convinced that the culprit was a hormiga arriera. Perhaps my cerro companion was simply pulling my (now-welt-covered) leg. However, if his story is true, avid Gringa Culichi readers will note that this is the second time that ants have attacked my pants in recent months.

It's a conspiracy, I tell you. And now I have the battle wounds to prove it.


Quinto Sol said...

The question is: who is behind this ant conspiracy? I'll tell you who: not the Cubans, not the Russians, certainly NOT the Mixtecos... El PRI, that's who.

Sara Mac said...

Exactly. The PRI or those Bolivarian people, I'm sure! :-)