If you lived in North America in the last few years, you may have become familiar with a cute little mascot for an insurance company, a bright green gecko. Or maybe you know somebody who once had one as a pet.
But would you want one in your hotel room?
You might, if you were in Madagascar on the Indian Ocean coast where “oh, there are no mosquitos” means “there are no mosquitos right now, in the strong breeze, in the cool part of the day, that you vaza can actually see.” In fact, you would probably want six or even ten or a dozen geckos inside your room if you knew them as I know them.
This little guy, for example, looks like the typical gecko next door, even a little shy. But he is personally responsible for the verified deaths of at least 15 mosquitos, during pre-bed toothbrush time alone, in the last few days. Tonight, he seems to think the bedside table area needs shoring up. And I’m delighted to have him doin’ his thing in Mangily.
The hunting technique is unabashed, and relies on lizard speed and insect stupidity. The gecko simply walks quickly to within range, pauses, and then lunges, snapping his prey up in his jaws faster than it can say “I smell blood.” And he seems to be grinning all the while.
Behind the paintings on our walls, behind the bathroom mirror, over our bed, under the kids’ suitcases, in the shower, we have a whole pile of geckos. And we love them. I’s like the VIP suite! We’re so enamored of them it has reached the point that we’ve divided the animal kingdom into mosquito killers and non-mosquito killers. Oliver said today that it would be fine to feed a clam to the local kittens (if we found one in the tidal pools) since “they don’t really have anything to do with destroying mosquitos.” Worthless little clams, be gone!
My little bedside assassin, however, has a long way to go to reach the killing records or the size of the big papa gecko the kids have dubbed “Godzilla.” He’s nearly 10″ long, fatter than a Churchill, and has beautiful multi-colored spots. You never know how it will turn out when, against your usual practice, you take your kids to a PG-13 movie just before leaving to tour the world. It turns out 8 months later with you having a bug killing gecko in your room named Godzilla and your kids waking up the whole village chanting, in celebration of an early morning beetle death, “Oh, no! There goes Tokyo! Go-go-Godzilla! Oh, no! They say he’s got to go! Go-go-Godzilla!”
And speaking of freaky moments of musicality. Audrey and I took a ride to Tulear with our friendly SCUBA instructor who helped us get some essentials like bug spray and sunscreen while she restocked the restaurant she runs next to her dive shop. When we met back with our driver, it was in a restaurant / bar called “La Boeuf” (‘Beef’) run by a French expat, full of curios hanging from the ceilings, a huge plywood Chicago Bulls logo hanging out front, and Shania Twain videos blaring away inside. In this world, all things are possible, except getting bug spray in Mangily.