Friday, April 8, 2011

Unexpected vacation hazards: pyromaniac cockroaches


Our hotel accommodation in Gran Canaria, at the Sunwing Resort & Spa ArguineguĂ­n, was a really nice, clean (very clean), roomy, comfy, cozy, two bedroom apartment. It was a great hotel and a great room. I did enjoy our stay there a lot. But. The room did have cockroaches in it. Not a big deal, really, until the roaches tried to burn our room down. This is important: roaches CAN start fires. For real.

The roaches seemed to come to visit our room rather than live there. I never saw lots of them, just an occasional one. The first one was perched on the kids' pajamas in the closet one night. Then there was a roach running over the kitchen counter one morning, and then another (the same?) roach running over the counter another morning. I suspect now that they were coming in through the fan above the electric range, but I'm not totally sure.

They were all about 1 1/2 inches in size and beefy-looking. Like they worked out. The funniest thing about the roaches was really my 4-year old daughter's name for them: crotch-roaches. Which kind of fits, really.

Roaches are a fact of life in most countries with a warm climate. Still, they absolutely freak me the heck out. Maybe it's the way they move, or that slick, brown shell, or the way they kind of seem to look at you, though it's probably an illusion. Or so I hope.

Anyway, no big deal right? Sure, I got the cold sweats and my husband got the fun task of kicking one roach out (trying to kill them just gets ugly). But they're just bugs, and it's not like there were tons of them. (That we saw anyway.)

And then they tried to start a fire in our room.

It was our last day in the hotel. I woke up just after 6 am and wondered why it smelled like toast. So I got up and went into the kitchen where, to my great surprise, I saw that one of the elements on the electric range was on full blast. It was one of those touch-control ranges with the smooth glass top, and one element was hot and orange.

We hadn't used the range much, so there were several items sitting on top of the range, including a small lunch bag. That's what smelled like toast: one of its corners was blackened. I removed the bag, turned off the element, and then checked the family: everyone was sleeping. And when I looked into the kitchen again, I saw a cockroach run down the wall and right across that range.

My conclusion? I think a cockroach managed to run across the touch-activated control panel and turn the element on. I can't think of any other explanation for how this happened. No one was awake. And the range default was to turn an element on full when you touched the controls for it. I think the pitter patter of little roach-feet was enough to activate it and almost start a fire.

Scary? Oh yeah. I was just glad that the smell woke me up before anything actually caught fire.

So: be aware. Do not place flammable items on a range with touch-activated controls, even if you're not using it. I know I'll never do that again. And now I also have another reason to be freaked out by those darn crotch-roaches.

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