Bugs. Flying biting bugs. I remember mosquitoes. I remember when mosquitoes were the worst of the flying biting bugs.
Now, I dream of days when the only bug I have to swat was a mozzy. Ahhhh, those were the good times. Last week, 22 mosquitos bites on my ass. Through three layers of fabric. Yeah, that was fun. All I could think was, thank god they were only mosquitoes.
This place, it’s not so bad. There are some fleas here. Small ones. Hard to see, but you still feel the bite. They are sneaky.
I smell like DEET. Layers and layers of repellent. You have to be careful where you spray it. It melts some plastics. Sunglasses, tent fabric, computer screens. I considered the chance of skin cancer from the chemicals, but then I read the list of 2000 diseases that a mosquito can carry. I think I’ll take a chance with the cancer.
Botlas flies are bad too, but only further east. They leave a little blood drop after they bite. That’s the only way you know you’ve been hit. The next day, itching like mad. And if you itch too much - open wound. Infection guaranteed. Jared got nine on one elbow. He’s pretty unhappy about that.
I have welts the size of quarters. Red marks, scars, bumps cover my arms and feet. One set heals and it rains again. Out come the bugs. Flying biting bugs.
Then we found sand flies. The itty-bitty teeny tiny black bugs. Usually they are only in the sand. But, the ones that live in hostel beds are the worst. It takes 36 hours to notice the bite. No sign. No trace. No idea you’ve been bitten. No idea your bed is crawling with them.
But then, it’s unrelenting itching. Three days. Maybe more. Completely uncontrollable urges to rip your skin off. There is no reprieve. Your only hope is a cold salt water swimming pool. And liquor, lots of liquor.
DEET is useless against the sand flies. We use lemon eucalyptus spray. It’s so potent it makes you cough. We can’t spray it in the tent. It wears off quickly too. But you don’t really notice, because you can’t see the no-see-ums. Resistance is futile. I’m sure that’s what the sand flies are thinking.
Bot flies are up next. We’ve heard stories. Big, like house flies, but hairy. They bite and lay eggs in your skin. Nothing like being the carrier for more bot flies. I can’t wait.
Sometimes I think, paradise is overrated. And then I take out my bag of repellent and anti-histamines, and remember that if it doesn’t kill you, it must make you stronger.
Whoever said that never camped in Central America. I’m certain.