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My Guess Is That More Often Than Not, They Probably Won't Kill You

Shoot--I've left my water bottle in the tent amid the frenzy of packing up camp in Tembe. Kicking off my sandy running shoes, I duck in to retrieve it, emerge fifteen seconds later, slip my bare feet back into the shoes, and head toward the trucks to continue packing. I feel a slight prick in my right big toe but dismiss it as one of the Acacia thorns that litter the ground. Two seconds later, the lump I had passed off as a pile of sand at the base of my shoe begins to move of its own volition. I decide this would be a good time to remove the shoe. After the shoe lands, I walk forward to inspect its contents and am somewhat taken aback to discover that it is occupied by a large, hairy, and extremely unhappy spider, eerily tarantula-like, and noticeably bigger than the big toe on which it had expressed its displeasure upon finding its new shelter shared by the smelly foot of some ignorant bipedal primate. I deliver the shoe to Berndt, the grad student who knows about such things. "Oh, laquer," he says, meaning cool. "A rain spider." He informs me that they're usually harmless. I inform him that I don't like the word usually. But my foot never swells up, turns color, loses feeling, or falls off, so I believe Berndt's diagnosis is, happily, correct.

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Last Updated:  13 January, 2003

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