I feel compelled to start this autobiographical narrative the way that many of my students like to begin their narratives: Have you ever had a leech stuck to your leg? Well I have.
We were quite pleased to get a prime spot in the Wooroonooran National Park campground. (I admit, the name is a bit unwieldy). The park is within the rain forest area and in that respect it did not disappoint. Fairly early in the morning we headed off on a hike to the falls. About 200 meters into it, we reached a stream that I didn’t feel I could cross without slipping on the rocks and knocking myself out. My legs just aren’t long enough to be able to make those kind of leaps. So I took off my shoes and socks and waded through taking care to wipe off my feet and redress them after. We continued on the hike and saw immediately that I could have just taken the road to get to the trail instead of going through the stream. Oh well. It was quite refreshing. The falls were beautiful and there were several of them.
The walk back was a bit rough. The rain forest was superbly humid and even though the sun wasn’t shining full force, it was still ridiculously hot. Our entire bodies were dripping and I had to keep swiping my face with tissue every couple of minutes. The heat and the fact that we hadn’t had much to eat that morning began to take its toll. By the time we got back we were exhausted. I just wanted to make lunch and maybe find a swimming hole. I decided against the swimming hole after what happened next. We took off our shoes and socks to put on our flops, and Adam was the first to point out that he had two leeches stuck to his legs. Upon further inspection I found one on my foot and Adam found double digits of them in our socks, shoes, and pant legs. Let me say that these were not the enormous leeches that you picture when someone mentions leeches. They were the size of tiny caterpillars or worms and, in fact, that’s what I thought they were at first. But this so-called caterpillar was stuck to my leg, growing in girth as he happily sucked my blood.
I have never had a leech stuck to me before and I have always been hopeful that the day would never come when I did. But here I was. As usual when something hurts badly or scares me badly, I don’t think before I do. For example, when I get stung by a bee I know I’m not supposed to grab the stinger and yank it out, but I do without fail. Similarly, I know I’m not supposed to simply grab the leech and rip it off of me, but that’s exactly what I did, causing me to make a sound that was half a yelp of pain, and half a shriek of disgust. I can’t adequately replicate it in text.
Adam spent the next 20 minutes picking leeches off of our clothing and watching with satisfaction while the little bastards dried up in the sun. We thought that we were rid of them (we guessed we must have picked them up in the tall, wet grass that we hiked through earlier), but that was not the case. As the rain forest weather kicked in and it started to rain heavily, we brought our things inside and proceeded to read. Looking down, Adam pointed to a leech that was stealthily inching his way across the floor. We had to go into full containment-mode lockdown. After that, we didn’t much feel like going outside. Every time we did we had to do a shoe inspection. So between the incessant rain and the leech scare, we didn’t get to do much more exploring at Wooroonooran. But we did get a lot of reading done. I finished Death Comes for the Archbishop which is a terrible book. I was really hoping for him to kick the bucket sooner, but he didn’t die until the last damn page.