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First of all, I dedicate this post to my bloggy friend Susie, who is awesome by name association but even more so by her kind and generous heart, witty comebacks and insane sense of humour. She’s dealing with a spinal injury right now, and I want to show her some love.

In 1996 during Spring Break of twelfth grade I went with several other students and a few teachers down to Haiti for two weeks. We went down there with a zeal for humanity, a hunger for adventure and came back with a bacterial infection and a couple of parasites.

We stayed in an abandoned elementary school: the girls in a row of bunk beds in one room and the boys in another. We burned through dozens and dozens of citronella candles with the illusion that the mosquitoes would leave us be, which maybe some of them did, but not without the accompanying fog of chemicals pooling out from the candles and filling our chests. On top of that, we enjoyed visits from cockroaches the size of Shaquille O’Neal and when squished, their intestinal spray resembled carnage found on the side of a mountain road in buffalo country.

I slept on the top bunk.

Cockroaches fly.

One loathsome evening in the middle of the night, while everyone else was asleep, while the humidity mixed with dirt and sweat stuck to my skin, a cockroach landed in the very middle of my back in the most vulnerable of places. A place where I could not reach from over my shoulder or up from my waist. It didn’t move. It lay there, motionless, as if it knew that its presence was all it took to drive me absolutely insane.

It was right. I went crazy. I couldn’t reach the dirty motherfucker, and no matter how vigorously I shook my body, it didn’t move. If I rolled over, I’d squish it between my back and my sleeping bag.

The missions trip was supposed to bring us all closer to Jesus and I swear that night it nearly did.

Eventually I put my earbuds in, turned up Tom Petty’s Wildflowers in my Sony Walkman and pretended I was on a boat out at sea.

Sometimes life hands you a big dirty motherfucker that you can’t reach to kill and even if you could, it would just leave a big ass mess anyway. Just turn your music up and start paddling.

This is the red caged truck we would ride around in while we were there. We sat in the cage, on the metal edge.


Only one person in this photo brought home a bacterial infection in the form of eternal diarrhea. Guess who. Actually, if that’s Jason in the bottom left hand corner, make that two people.


This is a view of the city while we drove along the roads:


And one more of us standing with a group of UN soldiers:


I just noticed Jason making a sideways face at the soldier. Niiiiiice.

Has anyone been to Haiti?

Do you guys have any cockroach stories? Literally or figuratively? 

{ 24 comments… add one }
  • Roman November 19, 2015, 4:19 pm

    You are hilarious! I have not been to Haiti but maybe someday. I use to be afraid of roaches when I was small. I remember one night my dad was pushing me towards one in the house I had ran away from to teach me not to be afraid of them. Hah. I think it made it worse. As you said, those suckers go airborne. Happy running!

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com November 19, 2015, 5:22 pm

      Well, I think what your dad was trying to do was something called “flooding” which is basically a psychological term for facing our fears and shitting our pants. Though, I think it only works if the one with the fear or phobia is in control of it. I used to be scared of throwing up and the only way I got over it was by forcing myself to deal with it when the kids or I got sick. But if someone else threw up on me or planted a bucket of barf in my car or something, it would totally make it worse. This is disgusting.

  • Heather@hungryforbalance November 19, 2015, 7:35 pm

    Oh Dear God! I think if that had happened to me I would have freaked the fuck out and woken the entire room up. Props to you for your coolness under pressure. Also, I do not think I will ever be able to get the coachroach intestinal carnage image out of my mind.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com November 19, 2015, 9:32 pm

      I’m not sure how I didn’t scream and wake everyone up. I think I was SO scared, that I was mute. Like, it was beyond normal fright, it was murderous trauma victim scared mute silent freak out paralyzed forever.

  • Susie @ SuzLyfe November 20, 2015, 4:32 am

    A) thank you for your dedication
    B) Thank you for giving me nightmares now
    C) I’m so glad that I could help intro a story that includes cockroaches and diarrhea. But then again, you are so right:
    love you.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com November 20, 2015, 7:03 am

      You totally are. Love you too.

  • Gretchen | Gretchruns November 20, 2015, 4:52 am

    Yuck!! that is such a disgusting story Suzy. You ruined my morning! (JK I went for a run and got a caramel latte from my favorite coffee shop so nothing can ruin my morning). I don’t have a cockroach story but I have a funny bunk bed story. I went to church camp one summer and was on the top bunk. I walk in my sleep, and apparently should not have been on the top bunk because I jumped off in the middle of the night and walked out of the cabin. Woke up in the woods with scratched up and bloody knees. FUN!

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com November 20, 2015, 7:03 am

      WHOA. Do you still walk in your sleep even now? That is actually really scary! Did your parents have to put padlock things on the front door up high to keep you safe?

      • Gretchen November 20, 2015, 8:46 am

        Yes, and yes. It freaks Dan out so much when I walk in my sleep. Mostly because I talk too so he thinks I’m awake, but then I try to get outside or do things that don’t make sense like showering with all my clothes on!

        • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com November 20, 2015, 10:28 am

          K, that is extremely entertaining. Dan must have some pretty great stories!

  • Megan @ Meg Go Run November 20, 2015, 5:33 am

    I love that every day when I come to your blog, I get a life lesson that just leaves me nodding my head. 🙂

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com November 20, 2015, 7:02 am

      That is one of the nicest things I’ve ever heard. I also learn things just by typing it out and reading your comments. I love blogging because I get to sit in the classroom with everyone and have big discussions and learn about life together.

      • Megan @ Meg Go Run November 20, 2015, 5:24 pm

        Yeah! It reminds me of grad school. I took all my classes online and we would always have to post assignments and leave two comments on different people’s assignments. So blogging reminds me of that EXCEPT it is way more enjoyable than reading the boring crap we had to read in school.

        • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com November 20, 2015, 11:15 pm

          No doubt. I can just imagine the slogfests your brain would have had to have gone through reading other people’s moronic assignments. GAH.

  • Allison November 20, 2015, 6:24 am

    I live in an old, 1890s farmhouse. Do you know what lives in old farmhouses? Centipedes. The really, really, really, really big kind. With bazillions of legs. And I hate them more than any other bug on the face of the earth. One Saturday morning, I had my backpack for the gym sitting on my dining room floor. I was wearing a tank top, and holding a full mug of hot coffee. I was too lazy to wash a travel mug, so I just had a regular mug that I was planning to bring for the drive to the gym. I grabbed my backpack and slung it on my shoulder and started walking through the kitchen for the door. I thought I felt a piece of hair on my neck and swiped it off, but no. HUGE CENTIPEDE. My reaction was to fling the ceramic coffee mug full of coffee across the kitchen and lose my shit, basically jumping around doing some sort of “I hate bugs” dance while screaming, “EWWWWWWWW”. My husband was less than amused as the screaming woke him up and he came running downstairs, thinking I was being attacked. Which, in my eyes, I was.

    I can’t imagine how this situation would have escalated if it were a cockroach.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com November 20, 2015, 7:00 am

      Okay but it was on your NECK. If the cockroach was on my neck!?!?!?!?! Different story. I would have stabbed myself multiple times in my own neck just to kill everything in sight. It would have been worth it.

  • Laura @ This Runner's Recipes November 20, 2015, 7:45 am

    Ewwwww the story gave me the heebie jeebies! You kept your cool so well! Bugs and diarrhea are so traumatizing. One time Charlie got the explosive poops and hid it from us, and when I found it the next day under a piece of furniture there were bugs crawling in it (we used to live in an old 1860s house renovated into apartments and bugs got in all the time). I nearly vomited and I did cry as I cleaned it up, but that’s still not as bad as flying cockroaches.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com November 20, 2015, 8:18 am

      I dunno, Laura. That story is pretty bad. I’d say it ranks up there with the cockroaches.

  • christina @ The Athletarian November 20, 2015, 9:02 am

    OH MY LORD. I do not know how you survived that. I would have died.
    You have the best stories. This one in particular made me a little itchy and nauseous…but still a great story!!

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com November 20, 2015, 10:26 am

      SO many stories. So. Many.

  • Meghan@Cleaneatsfastfeets.com November 21, 2015, 6:15 am

    That cockroach things…yeah I would have had to be institutionalized after that. Sometimes I think I’d rather face a crazy ax wielding murder in an alley than a big bug. True.

    Also, I love that Tom Petty song. Now I have to go listen to it, and yes to turning up the music. I’ve been doing that a lot this week, and it helps.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com November 21, 2015, 1:38 pm


  • James @ HalfMarathonJames November 22, 2015, 3:43 am

    You tell stories so well, I’m sure the cockroach story didn’t seem just as funny at the time.. I guess even with all the cockroaches, mosquitoes and everything else you will still always look back at it with fond memories.

    My only experience with them was when I went to an island called Langkawi off the coast of Malaysia. We stayed in these chalet type rooms surrounded by trees containing every poisonous and nasty creature you could imagine. For some reason, when building the rooms they decided to leave a gap of about one inch between the floor and the door. I didn’t sleep too well.

    • suzy.suzyheather@gmail.com November 22, 2015, 8:08 am

      Whoa, James. That sounds like an amazing travel experience but I would have been obsessed with that one inch gap all night long. Instead of sleeping inside mosquito nets, I’d want to lock myself inside a cement box.

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