Night Visitors

The noise started off innocently enough. Scriiiiiiitch. Tappity tap. Scritch scratch. Waking up, I realized whatever was on the roof, it was alive. Not my favorite revelation. Man-mode kicked in and I listened. After a few tense minutes of staring at the underside of the tin roof in the pitch black, I relaxed again. Maybe it was nothing. Right before falling back to sleep. TAPPITY TAP, SCRITCHY SCRATCH. Smackity-SMACK. BANG! Convinced that we were under attack, I rolled over to comfort my surely-frightened wife, only to find her peacefully sleeping.

My heart was now pounding, and I weighed out my options. I finally opted for shining a flashlight out the window. I don’t know why, and it accomplished nothing. After an hour of calming back down and listening for any little noise, I finally started to drift off again. Right on the brink of sweet sleep, the evil roof creature sensed my relaxation and started up his clogging routine again. With my ears I followed  him as he scratched and screeched all the way across the roof like some dance-crazed concrete block until he reached the edge of the house closest to our meat storage area (also knows as live rabbits and chickens). At which point our guard dog seems to recognize that the obnoxious noise is not good and flips out, scaring the mystery thing back towards our room dragging its hideous chains and tambourines over our thin roof and back out into the tree from whence it came. This whole scenario played out three times over the course of the night. After a long, frustrating night, I was glad to see the sun come up over the trees.

Central American Wooly Opossum (image from Google)
The next day, after some discussion with the local tropical mammal experts (my 11 and 15 year old neighbor boys, Eduardo and Nahun), we concluded that it was probably an opossum out to eat our chickens, which happens with some frequency down here. So, we decided to wait for the thing the next night. Sure enough, around eight o’clock we checked in the mango tree nearest our house and were rewarded with two shiny eyes. After  being on the receiving end of a vigorous round of rocks from Nahun’s slingshot, the thing finally dropped out of the tree to our waiting dog, which promptly finished it off. It was a little possum (a Central American Wooly Opossum to be exact), and I felt a little bad honestly. I don’t think it posed any real threat to our chickens.
That's our dog (Canela) right behind the neighbor dog enjoying the evening snack.  Our dog had brought the possum to the front porch after killing it behind the house by the mango tree.  Other dogs quickly joined her.

Epilogue: Two nights later, the noise returned. I was sure it was the ghost possum returned to haunt me for its unjust death. Fighting through the superstition, Nahun and I searched the adjoining vacant lot, there finding two hideously-enormous possums that met early ends due to some sort of high-speed rock allergy. I am glad to report that we and the chickens are now sleeping much better and our dog is becoming a great hunter.

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