365 Days of Writing – Day 35

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Not quite home. I’m in Amsterdam enjoying a lay over. Airports these days have become amusement parks, shopping malls, spa retreats with all the associated amenities. Very civilized. I see it as a welcome antidote to the strip, spread your legs, raise your hands over your head police tactics of the airport security which is your first impression of/encounter with flight travel.

Full disclosure – I’m going back into my journal for this post – Day 35 – Feb. 6th.

We easily identify ourselves as Americans – we’re the ones wearing long pans, long sleeves, reeking of citronella. Despite the heat we are so fearful of mosquitoes we cover as much of ourselves as possible. Burkas would be the next step. We have sprayed ourselves with poison, doused ourselves in DEET “Bug Off” and daily ingest anti-malarial drugs. Locals and other tourists, take their lives in their hands baring legs, arms, backs and necks! They parade around in short shorts and tank tops. They are fearless.

My guess is that the toxins we’re putting into and onto ourselves are probably more dangerous than a mosquito bite. One local told us that you can still catch malaria despite all our precautions. The problem is that the meds disguise the symptoms so the diagnosis takes longer delaying the remedy. It’s easy, I’m told, to treat malaria once doctors see the signs of the disease. I’m tempted to discontinue the little orange pill.

The lodge we’re staying in encourages our mosquito paranoia. As part of the nightly turn down service they pull mosquito netting around the bed. I think the nets are props – fomenting the fears and perhaps the exotic and romantic sense of Africa. Mosquito netting is definitely one of the expectations of guests staying in Africa. They create a pleasing, soft glow around the bed. Perhaps they serve a purpose in areas with true mosquito infestations. I know they have saved lives so I don’t mean to denigrate their usefulness. It’s just that I haven’t seen a single mosquito trapped in the mesh around my bed. What got ensnared in the mesh was me! The first night when I rose to use the bathroom, in my semi-conscious state, I flailed for minutes unsuccessfully looking for the opening. I gave up and extricated myself by lifting the netting and walking under it.

I’ve just been told that the best way to keep bugs away is to eat lots of garlic. I’m on board! Fix me a big dish of pasta with garlic and basil. I’ll be happy to subscribe to that regimen. For now I’ll keep using my creams and sprays and hope the insects don’t think I’m the tastiest person around.

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