Most anyone that has ever been outside with me already knows that I attract aggressive bugs. I hate it. I do not get squeamish or scared around bugs, I just do not particularly like being bitten or stung. Not to mention, I am SO sensitive to mosquitoes. So while our first few host locations have been lovely and really great working experiences, I have been attacked, stung, sucked on, and eaten to a point that is truly upsetting. And we arent even truly in the jungle yet. I may book a flight home now.
Mosquitoes are not anything new to us. Growing up going camping every year, and then spending this past summer in Ontario near the “Land of 10,000 lakes” (read that as “Land of 10,000 pools for mosquito breeding”), I thought I would have toughened up my skin a bit. HA. Mosquitoes here are not any more agressive, itchy, or more common here, but the ever-looming words: Dengue Fever hang over every bite. I am literally waiting to catch it. Apparently there are two other viruses that you can also catch from mosquitoes, I just forget the names of them right now. They basically mean you contract a horrible sickness that leaves you achy and bed-ridden for a few weeks, and some people still feel it in their joints for years later. Gillian, a fellow traveller told us that she caught it while in India last year and still feels the achiness in her wrist. Yeesh.
It is pretty common knowledge that when you have animals around your home and property, you will get bugs as well. This is including, but not limited to: fleas, ticks, tapeworms, flies etc. While at our first host location, I helped spray the dogs and puppies for fleas (oh great) because our host noticed they were scratching again and the chicken had been picking at the puppies like a momma monkey. So the plan was for me to hold each dog; for the puppies, flip them over to expose their belly, and Marine would spray them down. When we got the first puppy, calmed her down, and then flipped her over, I’m not even kidding I lost my grip on this poor thing out of shock. It was a full-on infestation like I have never seen before. It was as if every flea on the country had been playing lava monster and hopped on this one puppy for safety. It was as if every flea I have ever killed for all my other pets, had been reincarnated on this puppy to come back and haunt me. Poor little girl.
Well we finished the dogs and that night I kept waking up from night mares about bugs, and itching all over. But in the morning, lowe and behold: flea bites all OVER my legs and feet. It turns out, when you build your own home with your own two hands, there are small cracks of space between every board of the house. Turns out when the puppies sleep under the house, and you flea spray them, the fleas will flee the puppy and seek new flesh to attack. Turns out, when everyone else is sleeping in an attic loft, and the most sensitive person to fleas sleeps on the first floor, she will be the most miserable, itchy, sleep-deprived, bitten person ever. I did not sleep through the night for the rest of our visit. 😦
Nature is really fun this way. Spending time outdoors is so amazing, but then you are exposed to all sorts of other critters. In a new country, that means both familiar and new “friends” will come to visit. During this trip I saw the coolest spider I have seen yet. Very psychedelic and colorful. It has a reddish main body and legs, kind of split with the font four pointing forward, and the back four facing far backwards to supposrt the weight of the abdomen. The abdomen was shaped almost like a bull skull, with black pointy edges and spikes protruding off the top and bottom. The best part: the abdomen was a bright yellow-green like a highlighter, a color I did not know existed in nature. I calmly called the farm hand over and asked him about it. Apparently Belize does not have any poisonous spiders, but by the looks of this thing, I still was not going to pet it. I wish I had gotten a picture.
We found similair spiders in Honduras, but much smaller. Also apparently not poisonous. We see these guys a lot in the banana trees, strung up between trees, catching small bugs and humans alike in their webs. I try to stay away from them, but they really like to build their homes between the same trees I like to walk through. Jerks.
Matthew, Marine, Mike and I all were attacked by the red fire ants on a number of occasions. You dont really feel them on you until you get a sharp, burning sensation on some location of your body, and look down to realize you have just weeded up an ant hill and there are five biting your arm. The burning eventually goes away, but I hate those little guys. Matthew and Marine both were sneaked attacked during laundry time, attempting to hang clothes up to dry.
On my final full day with our host in Belize, I look down at lunch time to see I had gotten some banana pepper on my arm and attempted to brush the seed off my arm, only to have it remain exactly where it was… great. Upon closer inspection, it was a tick, buried neck deep in the back of my wrist. Super tiny little thing, not like the big black ones that we used to see near Aunt Patti’s house. I tried to run through my memory of all the genlt and safe ways I remember her telling us how to get them out as kids, and I can’t be sure about any of them. The boys got ticks, but I never had one personally. This was such an outdoors right-of-passage for me! Lunch time quickly turned into a game of operation, as Matthew helped my first try to singe, and then try to dig out the tick from my arm. Gillian, another worker/visitor, offered her moral support and laughs at our attempt at team work. After burning myself slightly, and not having luck with rubbing alcohol, we decided to just firmly and gently tug it out with tweezers. I am still not convinced that his head isn’t still in my arm, but when our host returned from a trip from town, he assured us that the ticks in Belize don’t need to be twisted, sliced or singed from your skin. A gentle tug straight out will do it.
Finally, yesterday, while out chopping bananas trees (I know, I’m living the glam life), I whacked down a big umbrella leaf with my machete (I’m telling you: #livingthelife) only to have a few flies disturbed and fly around. Until one stung me on the leg, did I realize they werent flies, but a nest of wasps that came swarming out from under this leaf. They have a small black wasp here in Honduras that likes to nest in the banana trees. They are only the size of a regluar black fly, but they are very agressive. So I ran like a crazy person away from that tree, and away from all the other trees, waving my machete around and running like a maniac. After the sting itself swelled up, and seemed to spread a bit of poison throughout my skin, Matthew convinced me to ice it to help with the pain. Wise man. I came away with only one sting on the thigh, but as I sit here writing this 24 hours later, it is still aching deep in my muscle.
(my poor leg after the wasp sting. Day one and day three of swelling and discoloring)
I am certain this will not be the end of my adventures with God’s crawly creatures, as our next stop of Nicaragua takes us properly into the jungle. I’ll be sure to take better pictures of cool looking bugs, and stay better away from the mean ones.