If you haven’t stayed in cockroach infested dumps, you haven’t traveled, as someone famous ought to have said. Anything else is just plain tourism.
The scuttling horror of the cockroach, that all right minded travelers must dread, is one that you never truly get used to, no matter how often you share a room with them and I have done so more than most on my tours of the world’s less salubrious destinations. Some indefinable trait of unpleasant, alien otherness always clings to them. Maybe its something to do with their eighteen knees that make them move in such an unsettling manner or simply that they have become so associated with all that is unclean that their mere presence is enough to stir our primal instincts of revulsion.
Given, that as a budget traveler a close encounter with them is inevitable it may be best to learn to appreciate them for the amazing creatures they are.
These guys are seriously hardcore. For starters they can live for a week after being decapitated – even zombies can’t do that! (Although that may depend on what film you go by) They only die because they are unable to drink. Even without food they can happily last for a month, so you wont be starving them into submission, particularly as they can live off foodstuffs as diverse as toothpaste, book bindings and shit. The American variety is even partial to alcohol, particularly beer, which is something we can all relate to. Having been around for at least 280 million years they won’t be disappearing off the planet sometime soon. From icy wastes to scorching tropics they comfortably make their home. What to us are biological hazards of grime and decay are as cozy as a fluffy duvet to them, having a nervous tissue that kills 90% of MRSA and e coli bacteria. With a radiation tolerance twelve times greater than us (they can hold out for a while in a microwave oven) they will certainly be around when the last human has expired dancing on our desiccated corpses singing ,”we are the champions”.
So, now you know how amazing they are the next thing to do is kill the bastards. Hit them and hit them hard. It’s no good flouncing around like some great ponce with a bit of rolled up newspaper. They must be crushed with something good and hard like a shoe. I’ve had them with half their insides flopping out, still running around mocking me. Catching them is not always easy as they have some of the fastest reflexes in the animal kingdom, detecting slight changes in air currents can get them scurrying for cover, where they can squeeze into the narrowest of gaps. With a top speed of 3mph (130 cm/sec), once they have got moving you will have trouble catching up, so creep up carefully and administer the swiftest, hardest blow you can manage and don’t wait to see if it has been effective before thumping them again – they may just be stunned or decided to stop and taunt you. There is little point in flushing them down the loo unless they are definitely dead because they can hold their breath for forty minutes, so they will only thank you for the wicked ride and be back to torment you.
If you intend staying any longer in accommodation the roaches have pre booked there is no harm in asking the management if they can spray treat the corners and hiding places. It’s generally effective but you probably won’t want to sit in the room for a few hours as it stinks and I doubt if its beneficial for your lungs. Keep bags off the floor and zipped up to minimise the chance of them making a nice little nest in them: a Brazilian friend unwittingly brought home a big batch of eggs that hatched out into a colony and infested his house.
As they prefer the dark it can be good to leave the light on before you go out for the evening. You are much less likely to have a crawling surprise waiting for your return. You only then have to think about them whilst tucked up in bed with the light off. Worry not though, despite having slept in dozens of infested places, they have never got into bed with me as they are far happier lurking in corners looking for something unpleasant to eat. Either that or I am even more repulsive to cockroaches than I am to the opposite sex. One exception was in the Ivory Coast, where one committed a suicide plunge onto my head in the middle of the night, presumably suffering the after effects of bug killing spray.
Remember that geckos and spiders are your friends, they may not be big enough to eat the adults but can mange the younger ones. I have considered the possibility that frogs may also eat them as the one place in Madagascar I stayed in which didn’t have roaches had two frogs living in the toilet bowl – a fact I only discovered after having a dump and looking down with a brief moment of horror to see something moving in my rancid deposits. A mercy flush was all I could do for the poor creatures.