Battling The Night Away

In Peninsular Spanish, to experience “una noche Toledana” means to pass a sleepless night. I’ve never slept particularly well, and moving to Toledo, where the expression was coined, hasn’t exactly helped matters. There are a number of reasons why this city isn’t the most restful in the wee hours: the infernal summer heat, kids bouncing around till 2am (even on a school night), rubbish collections at ungodly hours, the never-ending building renovations. But these are not the only armaments Toledo has in store for torturing its insomniac residents.

Take Sunday night, which was a particularly frazzling one for me, even by Toledanian standards. And for a very Toledanian reason.

I’d dozed off while reading in bed, and came round again just after 1am. So, I put my book away and reached for the light switch, when I noticed a black shadow swoop across the ceiling.

Great. A bloody bat. It had come in through the lounge window and found its way into my bedroom. Toledo is full of bats. At nightfall, they rise over the city roofs like great big storm clouds. This place is a veritable Gotham City (the medieval version). The nocturnal creatures dwell in the hundreds of abandoned buildings, and they are probably the only reason why we’re not up to our ankles in cockroaches (although there are still plenty!).

I’m fond of bats, but not so much when they are hurtling through my bed chamber. I’ve had visits from the odd stray one before, and normally, they enter and leave the flat in the blink of an eye. To facilitate the hapless intruder’s escape, I opened the bedroom window as wide as it would go.

Unfortunately, this bat’s sonar seemed to be malfunctioning. It kept circling round the room like one of these toy aeroplanes that are attached to the centre of the ceiling with a string. It came dangerously close to crashing into my head a few times, so I left the room and peered at the infiltrator from the lounge.

If it would only fuck off through the window or flit back into the lounge, in which case I could just shut the door, and it would eventually dash back out the same way it had come in. I was certainly not going to share my bedroom with a short-circuiting bat!

OK... so it can home in on a miniscule insect in mid-flight, catch and devour it, but it can't make out a great big wide-open window?!?

OK… so it can home in on a miniscule insect in mid-flight, seize and devour it, but it can’t make out a great big wide-open window?!?

After fifteen minutes of this, the bat had finally vanished. Good. I shut the window and went back to bed. Once more I fumbled for the light switch, when the blasted black flutterer was suddenly back in orbit. After taking a little breather in my dressing room, it had gone full-on kamikaze. I let out my girliest shriek and flung open the window (I should perhaps mention that I was completely starkers, it’s too hot to sleep with clothes on), and bolted out of the bedroom.

That moron of a bat continued on its merry loops. Sigh. What to do? Unlike birds, you can’t catch these things, they are way too fast. A bird you can chase, you can tire it out, you can trap it in a towel once it goes to ground. Maybe I could manoeuvre psycho bat towards the window by shooing it gently with a large folded cardboard box?

I was forced to abort the attempt after about five seconds. It only served to make the pesky little critter even more frantic. Not sure what freaked it out more, the flapping of the box or that of my middle-aged-lady boobs.

Maybe she could teach me how to flap elegantly...?

Maybe she could teach me how to flap more elegantly…?

Eventually, it must have been around 2.30am, the wretched creature found the exit, and I collapsed onto my bed.

But my in-flight entertainment wasn’t quite over.

Just as I was about to glide into Morpheus’s arms, I heard it. That unmistakeable high-pitched buzz emitted by the most vexatious insect in the entire world. A freakin’ mozzie!

Well, what did I expect, after having the windows open and the lights on? So, I dragged myself off the woodpile yet again. To my relief, I spotted the little sucker sitting on the wall almost instantly. And I eradicated it. With evil chemicals. It felt good.

And yet, I would not find peace that night. When I finally did manage to get to sleep, I was plagued by a horrendous nightmare about somehow having ended up back in Peterborough, a soulless East Anglian commuter town, where I had once vegetated, enveloped in a grey cloud of drizzle, for an entire decade… the memory of which shall haunt me for infinitely longer than any of those connected to bats or mosquitoes.

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54 thoughts on “Battling The Night Away

      1. ladyofthecakes Post author

        In many countries, people keep geckos for that reason, they let them roam the house freely. You don’t even know they are there. But with bats… quiet though they are, you certainly know when you’ve got one on the loose!

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  1. June

    Really not sure which is worse. The mozzie could probably do more harm but I still wouldn’t sleep with a bloody bat flapping round the room! And, as for the naked German, well…

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  2. heatherinde

    Agh! This totally gave me flashbacks. Every house that I lived in during Uni had bats, and we had several memorable encounters with them. And I know that they’re supposed to catch mosquitoes and all, but they are clearly losing that battle so I don’t want them near my house, helpful or not! Some days, I really miss American screens. Sigh.

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  3. NancyTex

    Oh Em Gee…. How are you still sane/functioning??? If I was alone and naked in a room with a bat, I think I’d have to be carted off in a straightjacket. Props to you for being a brave, bad-ass bat-wrangler and mosquito killer. You’ve earned your cake today.

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  4. bevchen

    I love bats… but not flying around my bedroom! Mozzies are infinitely worse though. I dread that high-pitched squeeeeee all summer! We’ve actually had surprisingly few of them this year… probably because we haven’t actually had a “summer” that lasted more than a week!

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      1. bevchen

        I was bitten once, in Hualien. Other than that we didn’t really notice any insects. Actually, I didn’t notice any when I was bitten either so I’m still not 100% sure what bit me or when!

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      2. bevchen

        Usually I am too.. and the mozzie prohblem is supposed to be BAD in Taiwan! We just never saw any. Mind you, the one that got me bit me THROUGH MY CLOTHES!! That’s dedication.

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  5. somewonderland

    darn, but you’re one brave lady for sure. I haven’t had such close encounters with bats as you, but I most probably would’ve just surrendered the room for the beastie rather than trying to get it out. After all mice are my personal cryptonite, and technically a bat IS a mouse with ’em flappy wings… And were it a mouse for me, i’d also not bother about how do I look, am I dressed or not, etc., before launching into a full on scream- jump as high as you can- and be totally useless mode ๐Ÿ˜€

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  6. Expat Eye

    I would have totally freaked out and probably run out of the house, forgetting I was starkers. Hopefully by the time the police let me out of the cell (public indecency), the damn thing would have found its way out. And hopefully you get breakfast in Spanish prisons ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  7. pollyheath

    Ugh! We don’t have bats here (or not enough to be a bother), but we have mosquitoes everywhere! They’re horrible.

    Also, my friend got a bat stuck in her hair when she was a kid so now I’m constantly on guard and putting my hair up when I sense their little flapping wings!

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    1. ladyofthecakes Post author

      With hair like mine, that’s a constant worry! Bee hives freak me out for that reason. When I was a kid, I witnessed a bee getting trapped in my mum’s hair (it was the 70’s, she’d gone afro), and the memory of that panic has stayed with me.

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  8. Kim in Fiji

    I was touched at your decade in a soul-sucking place – and wondered if perchance you’d blogged from there. Ha. So I just read the entries from your first month – Japanese melons (must be sure to feed my daughter-in-law and son lots of free spotty fruit when they visit in November), milk v. menopause (I got through with nary a single hot flash that I know of, and I’d been off milk for at least 5 years before that because of sinuses – I think the scientists with the poor study were still right), full fat cheese ( YUM, but I can’t), and the benefits of being bilingual ( I am SO JEALOUS !), Toledo in spring (just like El Greco on a brighter day). It was very fun – thank you so much .

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    1. ladyofthecakes Post author

      Aw, glad I’ve entertained you ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I left P’bro in 2001… I suppose blogs existed back then, but, had I blogged from there, mine would have been the dullest blog ever!

      Oh my, a life without cheese… I can’t even contemplate that ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Though you do have all that sumptuous fruit and mind boggling vegetables…

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  9. Maggie Wilson

    my sympathies… or should I say, my empathies. I’ve been there, all of it: bat, hot night, shrieks. And naked. except for the towel that was draped on my head. Because I was going to keep it out of my hair.

    Hope you get a chance to nap.

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  10. linnetmoss

    Interesting, I’ve never heard the term “mozzie” before! That whiny buzzing noise they make is the absolute worst. Hope you got to catch up on sleep after all the excitement of nude bat pursuit!

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  11. tobyo

    um..oh yea, your bat story is much more traumatic than mine! the only thing I suffered was an angry husband waking him up to “do the deed”.

    there’s that “home” in en vez de “hone” ๐Ÿ˜‰ and what is a mozzie? going to google now…..I hope you never have another bat in your bedroom again! yikes!

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