Vacation Horror Stories: A Bat-Infested Trip To Ecuador

Listener Rachel Sumner of Ithaca, N.Y., recounts the story of her bat-infested trip to Ecuador for our series on vacation horror stories. A bat in her hotel room would keep returning no matter how many times she captured it and took it out. She had to get rabies shots and now has no sympathy for bats.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Finally this hour, we've been getting an assist from you in our search for tales about travel plans gone awry. We're presenting them under the banner of...

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SIEGEL: ...vacation...

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SIEGEL: ...horror stories.

RACHEL SUMNER: My name is Rachel Sumner. I live in Ithaca, New York. I was studying in Ecuador for the semester and went to the beach with some of my friends for a few days.

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SUMNER: We were in a hotel that was literally right on the sand. It was beautiful, sea breezes coming through the screen door and window, and we were, you know, had amazing views of the ocean and felt very lucky to be there.

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SUMNER: Everything was great, except this bat kept coming into our hotel room. And we kind of scooted it back outside, but the next day, this bat came back. And so we tried alerting the hotel staff. And they came and did the same thing, just trapped it and put it back outside.

But that night, while I was asleep, I woke up and felt something on my leg. I kind of swatted it off, and I thought, you know, that was bigger than a bug. And then a few moments later, it came back to my leg, and I swatted it off again. And I leapt onto my friend's bed, like, yelling: The bat, the bat was on my leg. Oh, my God.

And we turned on the light, and sure enough, the bat is just lying on the floor, kind of dazed, and we all got into the same bed, the only one that had mosquito netting. And we tucked it in really tight and slept until morning we could get the bat out again.

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SUMNER: I emailed my parents, and I thought it was kind of a funny anecdote, like, I can't imagine this happening in the United States. And their replies were along the lines of: We're concerned. We think you need to get rabies shots. So I then had to wander around Quito, trying to find a doctor who would give me rabies shots.

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SUMNER: One doctor said, OK, fine, I'll give you two rabies shots. And when I read the medication information, I saw that that was the pre-exposure dose. But if you've already been exposed, you actually need five shots. And so I had to kind of say to him: No. I think I need this many because I already was exposed. The one thing I learned from this experience is how to say bat in Spanish, which is (foreign language spoken).

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SUMNER: When I hear about things like how bats are having a really hard time surviving in the United States, I don't feel very sympathetic towards them.

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SIEGEL: That's listener Rachel Sumner sharing with us the story of her trip to Ecuador. Tell us your terrible travel tales by going to npr.org, find the Contact Us button and use vacation horror story as your subject line.

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