An Upside-Down World

Living in Mexico is certainly different than volunteering for one week per year. There are many things you start to notice when you have that much more time. One of these things is the wildlife, often getting up-close and personal.

Among the creatures one can get to know are the creatures of the night and those that do not walk upright, or keep their heads up. Upside-down can have two meanings – either head down, as in bats, or belly-up and back down, as in lizards or ants who can defy gravity by walking along the ceiling or under surfaces such as stairs.

My little bat has been an off-and-on visitor with inconsistent hours. Sometimes, I know that it has been here by the seeds and chewed-up leaves or fruit I find on the stairs in the morning. Sometimes I see it, but often it doesn’t appear until late into the night, and by that I mean around midnight or 1am. It’s almost 5am right now and I see it up there for the first time tonight. .

I do wonder, though, about its physiology and body mechanics. It hangs head-down, so its circulatory system must be quite different from creatures which live with their heads upright. I also wonder about how their feet keep a tight grip on whatever they’re hanging onto while they sleep. Our hands and feet relax, which would be fatal to them. Oh, well, more to research some day when I’m not busy and remember it.

Since being back in the Hacienda residence, I have heard a sound that is hard to describe – almost like clicking, but not exactly. I didn’t recognize the sound, and couldn’t find any creature that could be making that sound. When someone was with me and it occurred again, I was told that it was a lizard, and that lizard eats insects and scorpions. Well, anything that eats scorpions is fine with me and can stay as long as it likes.

I finally saw it the other day and managed to take two photographs before it scurried away into a space between the beam and the ceiling. It was a gecko, exceptionally fast, and earlier this year I also saw an iguana that lives in an outdoor wall space at a couple’s house near here. I saw it on the roof, and before I could get a photo, it has disappeared between the walls.  They certainly must have very flexible bodies with feet made especially for gripping/clinging.

The very large butterflies that seem attracted to our common space here also took up residence on the ceiling for a while, but with the recent rains, it seems they have found another space to stay. For  while, one of them was up in the ceiling, near where the bat usually hangs, so I do not know if that kept the bat away or not, but at least it was in the hallway, on the ceiling near the chandelier.

Many times, dragonflies, butterflies and assorted other flying creatures get into the common space and try their best to fly through the skylight. The windows of the skylight are fixed within their frames, unable to be opened. These poor flying creatures don’t seem to understand that if they cannot fly through it after multiple attempts they need to find another way to get back outside.

At this point, I will open the balcony doors and the stairway door, making sure to keep MY bedroom door closed. They also don’t seem to realize that it would be easy to just fly down to the ground floor as there is a railing directly below the skylight and a large opening where you can look down directly to the open-air common space and kitchen.

Many mornings, I have found dead butterflies and dragonflies, among other flying creatures, who apparently have either starved to death, dehydrated to death or just died of exhaustion while unsuccessfully trying to escape.

More lucky are the ants, which seem to have no problem navigating this world no matter what position their body is in. More fascinating than that is how they work together as a team, or as an army, for a common purpose. They truly seem to be the garbage collectors/cleanup crew of nature. I have watched as they gather around and under dead dragonflies, etc., lift it up and carry it away including over and under the lip of the stairs – never breaking their stride, never missing a beat, walking upside-down, all the while carrying their load. I should also mention that these ants are extremely tiny and the carcass that they carry might be compared to a human carrying a body the size of a room or larger.

There are so many varied forms of life here, if only you take the time to look instead of walking past. The world is so much more than the larger creatures that we see, and if you spend some time observing, whether that involves bending down or looking up, or even getting close to a flower, it can be a wonder to behold the variety of life in this world. It makes you realize that children have it right when they get down into the dirt and are fascinated by what they see, and have a million observations and questions. We should be encouraging that and not trying to extinguish their natural curiosity. They will be the naturalists, scientists, biologists, doctors, etc. of the future!

Well, enough preaching for today – Enjoy the photographs, and have a nice day!



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