I have been very fortunate in my career to be able to travel to teach massage to many wonderful parts of the world. However, I’ve concluded that the tropics are not the best place for me. One terrible case of Bali Belly, one case of dysentery and always needing to have a shower as soon as you walk out of the door all point to me being more of a cold or moderate climate person. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t say no to another trip but it might not be my first choice for a holiday. It’s not even the belly troubles or dripping with sweat that bugs me – it is the bugs – the 2, 4, 6, 8 legged varieties.

Cockroaches are my particular bugbear. My first encounter with these particular critters was in what was the USSR, I was 21, had just graduated and was travelling ‘behind the iron curtain’ in Russia and what would become the independent country of Uzbekistan (more on this in a later blog). The walls in the state run hotel were paper thin and I could see the lights in the next room through a gap at the bottom of the wall when I opened the wardrobe door. That first night I became aware of something moving on the floor, the curtains were thin and the lights outside bright. My travelling companion suggested leaving our light on as she’d heard cockroaches didn’t like light – the screams and cries of ‘cockroach’ from next door told me our mission to keep them out of our room had been successful – sorry neighbours!

The next time I encountered these critters was in China, here they were in a wok on a street food stall – I declined to try them.

The last time I (knowingly) spent time with cockroaches was on a teaching trip to a very exotic island, lots of people at home told me they were envious of my trip – little did they know about the abundance of cockroaches in my accommodation. I left a side lamp on in my room but these little critters had sunglasses on – they didn’t care about the light. I finally dropped off to sleep having surrounded the bed in citronella oil to help ward them off. I woke an hour later in a start, aware I had properly screamed, as I become aware of something crawling across my face. I flicked it off and from what my hand came in contact with, this was huge. I spent the next half hour, heavy shoe in hand, looking everywhere for this little beast. It had completely vanished. I was badly jetlagged and exhausted from the travel, finally I went back to bed, a bed I had completely stripped and remade twice. I moved the lamp closer and tentatively climbed under the sheet. As I laid down – the cockroach took off and flew – straight out of my hair where it had apparently been hiding for the last half hour!

I didn’t sleep much that night, nor for the next 10 days. Those who know me know that I’m not a great fan of flying, I do it because I have to, not because I want to. My first flight was 6 hours long, mostly over water. I said hello to the woman next to me and then she nudged me, I must have nodded off. “Sorry,” I said, “are we about to take off?” “No” she replied, “everyone is getting off, you have been asleep since you fastened your seatbelt for take-off 6 hours ago. How on earth do you manage to sleep through a whole flight, especially one with such bad turbulence?” “Ah” I replied, “that will be the cockroaches”….


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