One of the things that has bothered me most in this country are the mosquitoes. I have read horror stories about dengue. On top of the news stories, my mother had malaria as a child so I have heard more than my share of warnings about malaria. I also have been to many countries where there are terrible diseases caused by these tiny little creatures.
To my shock, Dominicans do not even notice them. I have seen mosquitoes land on many a Dominican and neither one is bothered. The Dominican doesn’t seem like they can feel it and the mosquito does not seem like it is worried about getting swatted.
Things are very different for me. I am really bothered by mosquitoes. They love to bite me. I am afraid if I did not take major preventative measures I would be eaten alive.
Very early on I realized I would be in for a battle with these little pests. I can remember times when I have had 20-30 bites on each of my legs. I can remember spending nights in La Vega (where my wife grew up) curled up under a sheet listening to the little buggers dive bomb me. If I happened to fall asleep one of them would get under the covers and get me. By morning I would be covered with mosquito bites. I can also remember many Dominicans telling me that as soon as I became Dominican they would know me and leave me alone.
I know what most of you are probably thinking... ever heard of repellent. Well, as a matter of fact I have. In fact to date I have used over 30 different brands and types of repellants. I guess I cannot go much further before telling you about my two most memorable... ok three most memorable mosquito stories.
First, I should tell you how to apply repellant. You need to make sure your entire body is covered. I do it like this. (I typically demonstrate by closing my eyes and mouth and spraying a ton of repellant all over myself.) If you have done it correctly there is not a part of your body that is left uncovered. I even spray my shirts because they like to get me through my shirts sometimes. Now, this method is not fool proof. I remember a time when I got bit on the inside of my lip. I have no idea how the little guy got me there but my lip just swelled up really big.
Second, it does you no good to spray repellant all over your body and then to go into the restroom. The problem is when you are in the restroom your nalga (rear end) is uncovered. I know first hand that it is possible to be bitten on the nalga in the time between dropping your pants and making it to the seat. Now, if I need to use el bano (restroom)... I will sneak a small bottle of repellant in and spray a little around the thrown....
Third, I have still not figured out a way to keep the repellant on and take a shower in the country. It is like the mosquitoes know I am headed into the shower because as soon as part of my body leaves the cold water they are there to bite me. I have received multiple stings while in the process of showering. I think a record is 5.
Now, to be fair, there are some pretty good repellants. I buy the one that is available locally that comes in a blue bottle with an orange lid. I also recommend purchasing the repellant patches whenever you are in the USA. A quick story about the patches. They have a load of Vitamin B in them and supposedly make your blood smell bad for the bugs. One time when we were returning from visiting Bajia de las aguillas as we stopped to eat at the restaurant where the boat drops you off I learned the value of the mosquito patch.
As we sat down to eat I was sitting with the wind blowing in my face. It was funny because all of these little fly like bugs were swarming my wife. It was like they wanted to go in her mouth. They were really bothering her. I thought it was because the wind was blowing in my face and offered to trade her sides. As soon as she sat down on the other side of the table (with the wind in her face) the bugs were after her again. I do not know what it was. We were both eating the same thing. I then realized I was wearing a patch. The mosquitoes could not stand the smell of the patch, so they were going after her. FINALLY! That is the first and only time I can remember when she was bothered by the bugs and I was left un harmed.
By the way, and the last thing I will say about mosquitoes... At our house in Santo Domingo I no longer use repellant and I am rarely bothered. I guess the mosquitoes finally are getting to now me!
If you like this story buy a copy of Moving to the Dominican Republic today.
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