Friday, September 9, 2016

Last of the big game hunters

I'm slowly learning to be at peace with the mosquitos. I never thought this would happen, but it is possible to get used to their omnipresence. They are everywhere. They are everywhere. They are a fact of life. My window has no screens, but it's also hot, so it's a choice of either closing the windows and slowly baking yourself in your stuffy oven of a room or opening the windows for the occasional breeze and an invitation to the mosquitos to the open blood bar that is your body.

But you learn to come to terms with it. They still bite you, sure, but you tell yourself that you'll get used to it. And hey, the nurse said that the Zika virus is generally asymptomatic. So maybe it's a matter of drawing up a special store of Korean endurance and meditation, and being at one with the situation. First being merely mindful of the pests, and then acceptance.

At least that's what I thought. Then one night, there was a mosquito in my mosquito net.

pretending that my mosquito net is a blanket fort
Let me set the stage for you. I woke up in the morning to the usual sound of my neighbourhood. Kids singing, playing, and occasionally quarreling in the yard. A car alarm somewhere off in the distance, uselessly beeping the sounds that resembled an old modem while nobody cared. The odd mash-up mix of different neighbours blasting different music from their houses, soca, old school 90s hipop, and one neighbour that clearly loves Metallica (it can't be easy being the lone metal head in your Caribbean neighbourhood). Also, I'm pretty sure, from the sounds of it, one neighbour seems to be raising roosters? Roosters that fight? Cockfights? When neighbourhood houses are as close in proximity to each other as they are here, you get in interesting glimpse into their inner lives.

Here in my mosquito net, my body felt like it was buzzing. So itchy all over. I opened an eye and taking one look at my arm, saw that it was covered in welts. So was my legs. And my back. And pretty much anywhere that wasn't covered, and since I don't sleep with a blanket in this weather, there hadn't been much of my body that had been covered. So, so, so itchy. How did this happen? Opening the other eye, I saw a stretch of my mosquito net flapping in the breeze. It had come untucked from my mattress in the middle of the night, and the evil skeeter had seen an opportunity to get in. Damn.

I could hear the bastard mosquito buzzing above my head, probably drunk after a gluttonous night of drinking my blood. How could one guy cause so much damage? I looked down at my stomach, which also had bites, and thought about how I was going to spend the day stretching a shirt over it, trying not to scratch it.  I looked like I had some kind of disease.

You evil bastard, I thought.  I am going to kill you.

Suddenly I was crouching on my bed, posed with my hands ready like a stereotypical martial arts fighter in the kind of kung fu movies that the Wu Tang Clan likes to rap about. The mosquito skitted around my head. It was not lethargic at all, despite having pretty much drained my body dry. It rested momentarily on the netting by my face, and I stabbed my hand forward. Miss! It jumped up and easily dodged my swat, zipping past my ear, where I could practically hear its maniacal laugh.

Fuelled by the soundtrack of barstool prophets in my head, I took another frantic jab. And another. And another. Miss! Miss! Miss! It's actually not that easy to catch a mosquito when you only have the loose fabric of mosquito netting to slap it against. Also, not all of us have the sharpskills of the old man in the Karate Kid and can catch flies with chopsticks.

A surprisingly large proportion of my life in the Caribbean is spent under this mosquito net
Finally the mosquito settled down between a fold in the netting, perhaps exhausted by my relentless pursuit, and I came up with the innovative strategy of rubbing the fold of the netting together. Crunch, crunch, crunch, went the mosquito's body...well, not actually, but I envisioned hearing and feeling it as I crushed its body apart. My blood oozed out of the mosquito's body, staining the mosquito net that I am supposed to return to my employer once I come back to Canada. I felt as triumphant as a hunter.

Then I saw another mosquito.

Eventually I had caught them all, and learned a valuable lesson in mosquito nettery: Always tuck your net in securely. Always.

My mosquito net mattress was a fortress of skeeter-free sanctuary once again. Now, time to face the heat.