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Week 23

Wildlife wonder- Bats

Bats are a wildlife wonder as well as being quite a pest in Grenada because they like to live in people’s garages, under roofs and wherever they can get in. The photo above shows some of them flying around our garage. However, they move so quickly that they look like blurred, dark streaks in this photo. I will share more about them being pests in this week’s reflections below but for now let’s look at them as a wildlife wonder.

In Grenada there are at least 12 different sorts of bats and I think the ones I see are the Jamaican fruit-eating bats. Other common species are long-tongue bats, black myotis, Davy’s naked-backed bats and Geoffrey’s tailless bats. There is also the greater bulldog bat which is also known as the fishing bat. This variety catches fish by detecting the ripples the fish makes on the water.

The bats in this area are black and slim and their bodies are about 10cms in length. They live together in colonies, roosting during the day and finding food at night. Bats are mammals and thankfully they only tend to have one baby, twice a year which are called pups.

Despite the phrase, being ‘as blind as a bat’ they actually have good eyesight, particularly in total darkness. However, they do not use sight to find food because they use echolocation. This involves the bats making ultrasonic sound waves that is at a frequency that we can’t hear. They then listen for the echoes of these sounds to bounce off objects in order to work out where their food is located. An impressive way of finding dinner!

Grenadian Gift – Soursop

In one of my first blogs, I talked about Soursop tea which was made from the leaves of this tree but this is how the fruit looks. This one was given to me by a neighbour and was my first taste of soursop. When the fruit is green instead of yellow and feels quite squidgy, then you know that it is ripe. As I do with most things, I googled it before eating it. Someone described the white fleshy fruit as tasting of pineapple and strawberries which is a very good description of the taste.

The seeds are poisonous but the fruit has numerous health benefits. It is a good source of Vitamin C and fibre. It helps with immunity and there is some limited research to suggest it might even help in fighting cancer. One study found that a soursop extract could reduce the size of breast cancer tumours and kill cancer cells and another study found that an extract could stop the formation of leukaemia cells. However, you can’t always believe what you read on the internet!

Reflections from the retreat

Last week I had my third water pipe leak. I mentioned the first one in a blog a few weeks ago and this first one was the worst because it wet a lot of boxes of books. Thankfully, most books survived and there was little damage done. The second leak happened soon after that and was a burst pipe in the back garden. This leak turned the lawn into a pop-up swimming pool and led to a large water bill! The latest one was after the builders had stripped out the old kitchen units and the water pipe started dripping and then gradually it turned into a waterfall. In all three cases, no damage was done but it meant a lot of clearing up. However I have now developed a good 4 step process to clear out the water. Stage one, push as much of the water out of the side door with a brush. Stage two, scoop out water with a large plastic jug, Stage three, brush water into the plastic jug and stage four use the mop to clear the remaining water.

The plastic water pipes here, as you may have realised, are quite weak and often break or drip. Someone joked recently that they have had so many burst pipes that they have PTSD symptoms everytime they hear running water! There is a stronger variety of pipe that I will gradually use to replace the old pipes in this house as we continue to renovate.

So let me return to the bats. When we bought the house, there was a large colony of bats living in the roof and so when we replaced the roof, the builders did a great job at clearing the roofs and making them bat proof. However the garage doors have large gaps around them and this has become their new residence. When we start work on the garage, we will remove the bats and thankfully they are not protected here, as they are in the UK.

I came across a report recently which had found that 60% of Grenadian houses have bats in the roof and they are an ongoing problem for many residents here. People hang CDs or Christmas lights around their roofs to try and deter them, but they are very persistent. I have had a few bats in the house downstairs, because the builders had left doors open and so I had to chase them out with a broom. They were very smart and would fly in opposite directions and when they found each other again they would hang next to each other and touch wings as if holding hands which was kind of cute. I was also very impressed when I saw one escaping by doing the limbo under a door through a gap of about a centimetre.

Recently I had a family visit from the UK, who were staying in St Georges. Sharon (see photo below) is British with Grenadian heritage and lives close to where I used to live in the UK. We met at a counselling conference where I was running some training and it was great to connect with someone familiar with Grenadian culture working in mental health.

Her son loved seeing the bats and renamed the garage my ‘bat cave’. It was interesting to see how his enthusiasm for what he saw as a tourist attraction, helped me to see them as a wildlife wonder and not just as a pest.

The sermon I heard last week was about the weeds that grow up as well as the wheat and how we need to let them both grow together. The priest talked about the struggles and difficulties in life, as well as our personal failings and faults, as all being part of life. If everything was rosy and perfect, including ourselves, then we wouldn’t learn ways to grow stronger and mature.

Neurologically, when we react to a situation with resistance, fear or anger we trigger the more basic parts of our brain that drive us into a flight or fight, panic response. When we respond with more acceptance and calm, we are connecting with the part of our brain that can problem solve and help us to deal better with the situation. It’s like when I go swimming when the waves are rough. I have learnt to not stand against the waves but to float on top of them and this way I can swim and enjoy the sea even when the waves are strong.

So whether it’s leaking pipes or unwanted bats, these are all part of life. They are teaching me how to deal better with unpredictable events and making me stronger. Certainly, clearing water for a few hours has made me physically stronger! But these challenges are also opportunities for me to learn and grow. I now know how to deal with leaks and I don’t feel as overwhelmed as I did when it first happened. It’s all about perspective, as my visitors taught me this week, when they viewed my garage of bats as a ‘bat cave’ and a place of wonder. How we see challenges and difficulties defines how we manage them and I can’t control leaks or pests very easily but my perspective is something I do have the power to change.

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