Of all the critters I encounter in Bonaire, the scorpion is the one that, in the negative sense, elicits the most reaction from me. I cannot look at the beast without making a sound or jumping up. A scorpion immediately puts me on edge and always produces the same thought: it has to go. NOW!

Because of the scorpion, I found out that there are critters that I most want to kill, that I want to jump on like a madman. Fortunately for the scorpion, I’m too cowardly to do that. Every time I feel that inclination, I hear again the lady, who discovered one under the plant she was moving, say, “It doesn’t want to sting you at all, it only stings when it can’t get away, just get out of the way.” She caught the critter lovingly and put it somewhere no one was. She had a point of course, the beast doesn’t have to die, I can move him or myself too.

Scorpions are said to never come alone. I don’t know if it’s true or a Sandwich Monkey story, but everyone I hear about scorpions here on the island says it, “if you see one, there’s another one around. It’s one of those facts I would rather not have known. In fact, I always see only 1 scorpion, and it always appears at a bad time; when I have just stepped into the shower for example, or am just walking barefoot with a full bladder towards the toilet, or turning off the light when I want to finish my work day.

Poop! So then I have to both gather the courage to catch #1 and then also look for #2 (or maybe a whole family). And all because of the idea in my head that scorpions do something I don’t want them to do, which is sting. The chances of me getting stung are not that great at all. After all, the scorpion does not want to sting me; it only stings when it is in the wrong place at the wrong time. The species we are dealing with in Bonaire is not even very dangerous. It hurts quite a bit, I have been told and could also infer from the encounter my dog had with a scorpion. But if you are not really very allergic, then it will stay at that, and you will only have a painful bump that will go away after a week or two.

I have no idea if I am very allergic, I have never been stung. But since I do react somewhat hypersensitively to many insect stings, there is a possibility that I belong to that group, and then it’s better to be safe than sorry, right?

And so I’m always looking around to see if there might be a scorpion nearby, I have flip-flops next to my bed so I never have to walk barefoot in the dark, my glasses are in the shower in case I accidentally spot one, and the empty yogurt cup and laminated map of Bonaire are always in the same place. I am prepared, I say with that, I can handle this situation. I have a solution.

The solution is the yogurt cup along with the laminated card. That’s my favorite “capture tool.” An animal- and plant-friendly method that moves everything that does not belong in the house outside. I’m good at it, too. I have been trained on how to place the cup accurately, now know which side of the laminated card slides easiest and thus can be slid between the substrate and the cup faster. How to lift up the cup with the card without allowing “my prey” to escape and that I before I begin the procedure, should check that the door to the outside is open. If it is closed, I need additional actions and my prey may still run off and the whole procedure has to be repeated. I don’t want that, of course, which is why the first step after signaling the prey is to clear the escape route.

That way I catch scorpions, cockroaches, grasshoppers and this week a frog, which had wandered in. Most critters survive their encounter with the cup and continue on their way a few feet away.

I can pat myself on the back and say I solved it well, but of course that’s nonsense. I didn’t solve anything at all. I came up with a solution to a problem that doesn’t have to be a problem. The chances of that scorpion stinging me are especially increased if I hunt it, so why have I practiced striking that cup?

The chances of it stabbing me are slim, so why am I panicking about it? Why do I put so much time into it? Why don’t I just move myself a little bit so the beast can pass by?

It is not the scorpion that is the problem, it is my thinking about that scorpion and that way of thinking is costing me more than it is giving me (time, energy and emotion). I’m really not going to sleep more peacefully after I catch that scorpion, because the idea that number 2 is still around somewhere and may now be climbing up the mosquito net is still in my head.

You may now say, well fortunately I don’t suffer from that because scorpions don’t live with me. But is that true? Doesn’t the scorpion represent something, someone or a situation that you would prefer to avoid? That make you come up with solutions that make it manageable for yourself, but don’t solve the real problem?

How often do you allow yourself to be guided by situations or events that might happen, reactions you might get, obstacles that might be higher than you can handle? Quite often right? Insurance companies make fat profits on it, drug and supplement makers play on it skilfully, and for the media it is core business.

There is much you can fear, much you can be afraid of, and also much you can be held back by. Everyone has their own scorpions, problems that we make bigger than they need to be, which can resolve themselves on their own if we start looking at them differently. Do you recognize your scorpions?

Does it help to put a “yogurt cup” over that? Does that make it go away, or is it mostly temporarily displaced? Out of sight and thus solved? Until it comes back, and you run into it again?

I see “scorpions” popping up daily within my own expertise: kids who don’t react the way you want them to, colleagues who think what you’re doing is weird, stories that don’t pan out, puppet that are argued over, for example. The solution, ignoring the child, not doing anything with the puppet until the peer is out of sight, aborting the activity or removing the puppet without pardon, are then the “yogurt cups.” They free you from your discomfort for a moment, but do not provide a real solution to the situation. For that, you have to look at the situation differently.

Do you have a need for that? Then send me an email, for these kinds of problems I have real solutions, not yogurt cups. This is my email address: helen@helenmeurs.com

Thank you for reading and your time, and until another blog.


Helen Meurs (helenmeurs.com) is a pioneer in the field of Puppet Power, an independent trainer and developer. She offers online courses, is the lead instructor at the vocational training for puppet coaches, and authored the book ‘The Hand Puppet as a Educational Tool’. Subscribe to her newsletter if you want to know more.

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