May 13, 2003 GMT
Mexican bee movie

Near San Miguel de Allende: whach whach whach. Or maybe tatatata. Or maybe more of a dug dug dug. Whatever the noise it was a helluv a thing. A calm sixty miles an hour on a open four lane highway and that smear on my visor becomes a tiny black cloud. Now it looks like it is moving, animated. Decidedly alive. I am right on it and I think, hmm, that’s a lot of flies. Close now: no, I’m wrong, not flies. That would be a swarm of wasps that.

Then the noise. Like a shovelful of gravel out of a catapult. A bombardment. Not prepared for this. No point trying to dodge. I have hit bigtime, an aerial colony. I wonder how they are going to take to this introduction. Not too friendly I guess.

Several dozen of their sisters are motorcycle wasp paste. First experiences always have a particular attraction, even if you don’t want to repeat them. Hot wet pain is spreading up my right arm. I am finding it quite intriguing. That car-crash slow-mo is running quarter-time. I wonder what happens next? Never been here before. There was that bee in Greece. Made my nipple swell to porn star proportions. But this is definitely a step up. Don’t think I have read about this one. Is there a page in the overlanding handbook on massed insect attack? No, I read it cover to cover. I bet they train for this in the special forces. There are a few ways we can go with this thought.

Hold on. Isn’t this, like, uh, dangerous? I pull over. Brake sharply. “Get off”: an alpha command. Not very nice, but she knows something’s wrong. Perhaps I am trying to communicate the seriousness. Or maybe I’m a rude bastard. “I am going to take off my jacket and you’re going to wipe them off”. It’s on the floor with a single shrug. I pull up my arms, assuming the position. Jesus Christ for a moment. Forgive them they know not what they do. A few dazed wasps emerge, fly some circles and then head off. There’s one in my neckerchief. She picks it out, a little too gingerly for my liking. I am okay. A few stings. Nowhere sensitive. I was protected from head to foot. Could have been a lot worse. “Imagine if I’d had my visor up?” Images of bloated blistering Simonface pass swiftly. We are smiling now. A funny thing happened on the way to Zacatecas… We inspect the bike. They are everywhere. All over the front. In wholes and fractions. A massacre. A traditional European gift to the new world. Now onto Mexico fellow conquistadors. I say that maybe they are hornets. “No they’re bees”. I argue the point and lose. They are 15mm long. A dirty mustard colour. Not the vivid yellow of wasps.

I am cursing in amazement. Far out freaky stuff indeed. Then I notice the level of buzzing is increasing. Oh yeah, there’s still another thousand or so of them just up the road wondering where their hundred siblings have got to, and what is that stink of dead bee wafting north from those two? We are being seriously scouted. Uh-oh. How quick does bee dancing get the message across? “Maybe we should get on the bike. GET ON THE BIKE”.

I am doing my reverse shrug as I feel for the ignition key, upright the machine, flick up the side stand, pull in the clutch, hit the starter, check the left mirror, select first and let it go. Hopefully there aren’t more of them in the jacket sleeve. Should have checked that one. My friend hasn’t quite landed yet, but the top box will catch her. Mosquitos can do 42 kilometres per hour. Bees must beat that. But then, a V-twin is surprisingly forceful off the blocks, even my dear overloaded pig. This is a race we win hands down. I am still swearing and shaking my head half an hour later.

Posted by at May 13, 2003 04:43 PM GMT
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