With holiday revelries closed, I sat down to sketch out my plan for 2018. What do I need to do this year to feel l made the most of it? I hammer out sailing destination goals, bucket list items in various destinations, plans for staying financially and physically fit, plans to explore new interests, host dinners, study the things I already love like photography and scuba diving. The New Years Nine Yards.
Among my goals: meditate more, starting tomorrow morning. If you have researched anything about meditation, having a spot you return to each day is a helpful exercise. Placing yourself in the same location each day readies your mind and gives you a sense of focus. I also have a writing spot; Captain Andrew has a cocktail-drinking spot. It’s pretty handy.
Before I head to bed, I fluff the pillow, tidy the area, and make sure my meditation spot is open and inviting for me. The next morning, I rise with my watch alarm and shuffle out of bed. I glance at my meditation spot, but I am not welcomed to my existential portal to the universe as I had hoped. Instead, I see a little brown turd the size of the last knuckle on my pinky. At first, I can’t believe my eyes. “What is this?” I ask Andrew who is readying his morning coffee.
I poke at it. “Is that poop.”
It responds to my poke by sticking slightly to the couch cushion. I jump back with horror. “IT IS POOP! How the hell…?” Shudders of disgust are wracking my body. I look around with panic. “It has to be rat poop! Sonrisa has a rat!”
This is not the start to Andrew’s morning he was hoping for. Not at all. “It’s not rat poop,” he says in his soothing, Nalco-Sales-Guy voice.
“Oh yeah, then what is it?”
“Gecko poop. I’m sure of it.”
“Gecko! That’s a big ass gecko. Sonrisa must have a Komodo Dragon.” I look over accusingly at Louise. She sniffs her nose at me, and argues that a Komodo Dragon wearing pearls would not shit upon my meditation spot. It seems a reasonable argument, so I convey it to Andrew.
Andrew grabs the cell phone to google “rat turd” in the hopes of showing me it is of course not a rat turd. I wait.
Andrew says nothing, but I watch his thumb scrolling. I see the look of disappointment on his face. “It’s a rat turd, isn’t it!” I tell him.
“No, it’s not.” He insists until I look over his shoulder and see him scrolling through photo after photo of little poops that look exactly like our poop.
(I would insert a photo here, but I'll spare you.)
“Dude. It’s a rat turd. Awwwooooohhhhhhhh! Gross!!!” How in the world did a rat get on Sonrisa? … I smack my hand on my forehead: Tatawa. Tied up right next door, I realize with the amount of time she spends at the wharf to pick up supplies, tourists, and such, she is bound to acquire a rat or two.
*Shudder* Ugh. It’s too early, none of the stores are open and selling rat traps, yet, so I have no choice but to calm down and drink my coffee.
RAT! YOU CAN’T STEAL MY PEACE THAT EASILY.
I name the rat “Schmee” because naming disgusting things makes them slightly less disgusting. I wipe down Sonrisa’s couch with some Clorox Bleach Free Disinfectant Wipes, find the iPod with my guided meditation and take my seat.
“Oaugghhhh!” I am determined to stick this out, but for a full half hour my monkey-mind wanders through Sonrisa’s back storage lockers looking for where Schmee might be hiding.
Later that evening, Andrew begins laying out mouse traps with parmesan cheese on their little trap paddle. “What!? You didn’t buy rat traps?” I ask.
“These will work,” Andrew tells me, but he is wrong. These mouse traps are so small and so weak, they couldn’t catch vermin the size of the poo Schmee laid, let alone Schmee himself. I make protest and complain. At best, the mouse trap will give Schmee a bloody nose, causing Schmee to spread the plague from bow to stern. Andrew disagrees, blinks silently at me, then goes to bed with his mouse traps set.
I’m working on processing some photos when Andrew calls out from bed. “Will you get me the channel locks out of my tool bag?” I dig around in his tool bag, and wonder why he wants channel locks while lying in bed. As I hand the tool to him, he quotes Chevy Chase from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
Andrew thinks he is funny.
The next morning all three lovely pieces of parmesan cheese are gone and the mouse traps remain untriggered. I fold my arms, displeased that Schmee is still at large, but somewhat vindicated in my assessment that he would not be caught by the mouse traps. Andrew heads into town for a shopping excursion: “Don’t forget the rat traps,” I nag.
That night, Andrew sits down on Sonrisa’s salon bench and begins pulling apart what appear to be industrial sized leg wax strips.
“What are you doing?”
He smiles and holds one up to me. “It says it can catch an elephant.”
“Apparently, they don’t use rat traps here. Sticky paper is all they have.” Andrew says.
Andrew places another three chunks of parmesan cheese in the center of each waxy strip, but I grumble dissent. Scheme must only stretch his nose out to gobble it up without ever touching the waxy strip. We rejigger the plan, placing the cheese in the far corner, butted against a wall. This way, Schmee MUST step on the waxy strip in order to reach his prize.
Have I mentioned how precious cheese is in Indonesia? It’s pretty hard to find.
That night, we wake every so often to the sound of a waxy strip shuffling about. Andrew flashes the flashlight into the salon only to find the parmesan cheese square gone and a tuft of rat hair glued to the sticky paper - hair owner nowhere to be found.
“Damn it!” I say, inspecting the hair tuft while Andrew cuts another round of parmesan cheese in the dark of night. “This is the definition of insanity.”
Around 5:30 a.m. as the sky begins to lighten with pink, we hear the paper shuffle again. Andrew flips on the flashlight and we both watch a round, fuzzy ass with a long tail shuffle away from his parmesan cheese buffet, hop up Sonrisa’s companionway stairs, and disappear into the cockpit.
“Where’s he going?!” I ask, and Andrew uncoils himself from the bed to follow Schmee out.
“Maybe he’s heading home to Tatawa. I’m sure his nest is over there.”
“Yeah, well, I would move over here if I am served parmesan cheese every night.”
Then, Tatawa’s engines fire up. The crew has been working nonstop the last couple of days cleaning and moving supplies on. It seems they may be leaving for another live aboard trip.
“Maybe Tatawa will take Schmee with her and we will be rat free again?” Andrew says hopefully. This seems too good to be true, but Tatawa does leave.
"Tonight will be the test!" Andrew declares as he pulls apart more waxy strips, cuts three more large chunks of parmesan cheese, and lays out Schmee’s buffet. The next morning, we wake to find cheese in place. No Schmee. In a scramble, we ready Sonrisa for her passage and drop the mooring ball, we have to get out of Labuan Bajo before Tatawa and Schmee come back!