Thursday, 10 May 2007

Understanding Brazil: Mosquitoes

I guess it isn‘t a problem exclusive to Brazil, or exclusive to me for that matter, but the fact that most beds in the country don‘t have mosquito nets attached does cause me some problems. Especially as most of the houses that I have stayed in have been somewhat open to the elements. And just like the ladies of the country, the mosquitoes of Brazil prefer the blood of exotic gringos*. I react very nicely to bites - I can wake up in the morning with my back looking like the top of a cake iced in pink and covered in white chocolate buttons. Because of my delicate gringo nature, I need to check the room before I go to sleep. It goes something like this:

I scan the room with hunter‘s eyes and I shake all the dark spots, high and low, that they like to hide. If one appears, I chase him around the room, climbing the bed, moving furniture, slapping, clapping and flapping until I lose him in a dark corner. Half an hour later, I‘m still stalking and apologising to Blondie for being so pathetic.

"There he is!"

A shadow appears. I grab. Got him! Impressed with my reflexes, I open my hand to prove how great I am. Blondie laughs from the bed. He flies happily off my finger, barely stunned. I can‘t give up now, that would be admitting defeat. I waste ten minutes checking the old smears of mosquitoes killed in previous battles. I don‘t like to clean them off the walls. Like leaving the head of your enemy on a pole at the city gates, I believe this should discourage them from entering my room. I can‘t find him. Maybe I did get enough of a blow to kill him. One final look around and I get warily into bed.

Ten minutes later: Zeeeooowm!

Just as I was reaching that lovely dropping off to sleep stage, he comes and sings right in my ear! The most annoying noise on the planet. Somebody I know once grabbed a mosquito, pulled its wings off, then started buzzing in its ear, angrily asking the insect how he liked it. I know how he felt. I‘m getting up again. The light goes on. Blondie gurgles. I find him sat high up on a wall. He flies down. I get ready. He drifts back up. This teasing carries on in a circuit around the room until I lose him and then feel a bite on my shoulder. How did he get there so quickly? Look at him! Still sucking away! I slap him. Oh my god, that is so disgusting. A smear of blood the length and breadth of my little finger is spread across my shoulder. Que horror!

It might be my own - in fact, it‘s definitely my own - but it sickens me. I go to the toilet to wash off blood and legs and wings. I feel contaminated. I return to bed, musing on how there is no such thing as victory in war. Everybody loses blood. I‘ve lost sleep as well. Unlike Blondie. She stays unconscious while I get bitten and irritated. Still, at least now I can sleep. I close my eyes.

Ten more minutes: Zeeeooowm!

I don‘t believe this. I‘m not getting out of bed now. I‘ll turn the lamp on. Look at me! I‘m a cake! How did he do all that without me noticing! That‘s just greedy. Lamp off. I lie listening. Hear nothing more. But within seconds, I feel him! On my nose! I shake my head to get him off and shake it in resignation. I put my head on the pillow. I almost feel like crying. I just hope he gets so full that he gives up and lets me sleep. I finally drift off after imagining waking up in the morning looking and feeling like one of Dracula‘s victims, while a mosquito the size of a cat clings onto the wall.

Mosquitoes 1-0 Burro.

*Just joking everybody!


...~*~... said...

I started reading some of your articles on - interesting stuff. I like your style :) This particular post tickled me though... reminded me of the good ole days where I was the prime piece of meat for the mosquitoes. Glad all ye fancy gringoes with the exotic tasting blood are coming along to save me from my mosquito misery... I used to look like a blowfish after a scare everytime I got attacked by them at night.

Anonymous said...

I built a house in the Salvador area about 10 years ago. It is on a property the size of a football field and had a surplus of mosquitoes. I'd get about 40 bites every night I slept in the original house, now replaced. It turned out part of the land was a little boggy, ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. We put in an inexpensive drainage system (tubes and some concrete drainage boxes to collect the water and drain it out to nearby river) and installed screens in the new house. Since then I get about one bite per month and the land is dry. But I remember well the difficulties we had to even find someone to install screens in the house. Now my neighbours scratch while I enjoy life, lol.

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