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Mosquito Madness Part II

still itching to do more travelling

sunny 28 °C
View bequia on a_broad's travel map.

Lunch was great -- a couple of rum punches and a tuna sandwich on the open air terrace with the amazing views of the beach -- and a lot of laughs shared with friends. Allyson and Geoffrey did love my tales of woe.

Then we headed home -- about a 15 or 20 minute hike up hills, down dales, through brush etc. I was beginning to understand why Geoffrey told me to bring a pair of sturdy sandals.

And as soon as we got to the front gate I also understood why he'd told me to bring a flashlight. The house came with a snake and when it's dark -- and I mean pitch black -- the last thing you want to do is tangle with it.

Never mind ...

Just cast your eyes on the sight that greeted me as soon as I'd made it down the 20 or so steps to the house:


That is the view of Friendship Bay Beach -- where we'd had lunch -- from the terrace of Geoffrey and Allyson's cottage. And while Geoffrey did some work on the book he was writing, Allyson and I put on our bathing suits and headed right back over there -- after I'd unpacked and gotten my how-to-use-the-mosquito-net tutorial and the didn't-we-mention-there's-no-air-conditioning story.

Never mind. So what if it's in the mid to high eighties and humid every day ...

More schleping over hills, dales and brush and finally I could get what I'd come here for -- a swim in the ocean. Which was easier said than done because it was a lot rougher than I'd expected. Before I knew it, I was knocked flat on my butt and before I could get my bearings I was tossed around like a sardine in a washing machine. Eventually I slid onto the shore, after swallowing about a quart or two of salt water and a pail's worth of sand -- much like a baseball player stealing third base -- except I was in a bathing suit and my legs were bare. Thank God the sand in Bequia is like baby powder.

We rinsed off and threw ourselves down on the first lounge chairs we could find. This time Noel picked us up. I'd had enough hills and dales for one day.

A shower, a drink on the terrace, a lovely dinner, great conversation and this spectacular sunset and I was a very happy camper.


We all went to bed about 10 o'clock and I was out like a light the instant my head touched the pillow. I was having trouble with my mosquito net -- which was in 2 pieces and didn't really fit properly but I was too tired to care.

Allyson and Geoffrey played tennis early the next day while I worked on my book. Then Geoffrey and I went into town. I use this term "town" loosely. There is a street that is barely better than a dirt road that runs a couple of blocks. Wandering aimlessly about or just laying wherever they feel like it even if it's in the middle of the road are goats. Scattered here and there are small, pastel coloured buildings -- some not more than shacks. These are the restaurants and shops.

How, I wondered, did this Caribbean island manage to escape being turned into Disneyland -- and more to the point, how much longer would it last?

Where the disconnect is, however, is in the local grocery store -- where you could find everything from rack of lamb to radicchio ... from thai seasoning to mint sauce ... and with a selection of wines and liquors that would rival that of the most sophisticated cities.

I was agog!

Goats laying about the streets, not a building over 2 stories, 1 bank, no hair salon or barber shop that I could see -- but gourmet provisions galore!!

After stocking up Geoffrey and I headed over to the charter sailboat office. We'd all decided to take a day-cruise to the Tobago Cays later on in the week so we went to book our reservations.

For the next couple of days Geoffrey and I worked on our books while Allyson, a terrific artist, painted. We swam and we ate and we napped and we drank and we slept. It was totally what the doctor ordered. And we explored another beach -- Lower Bay -- which turned out to be one of my faves:


Everything about Tobago Cays was perfect: The day, the boat, the food, the scenery, the swimming and snorkeling, the captain ... all of it:


Tired and happy we made our way home. That evening we went back to the Mosquito for dinner. My elbow was so itchy sitting there it was driving me crazy.

What woke me up in the morning was the itch! My elbow ... my ankle ... my knee ... my knuckle ... my thigh ... my arm ... my arm pit!!

Wondering what was going on, I ran to the bathroom to have a look in the mirror. I shrieked!!!

This is not an exaggeration: From my fingertips all the way up to my shoulders ... from my toes all the way up to my butt -- front and back and all the way around -- my arms and legs were covered -- and I mean covered -- with huge, swollen, angry red bumps -- like hives on steroids!!

The only thing I reqret is not having taken any pictures because Geoffrey and Allyson are the only 2 people who know I am telling the absolute truth.

When they heard me scream both Geoffrey and Allyson came running and when they saw me they just stopped dead in their tracks, mouths falling open.

I was a sight for sore eyes!

Allyson started painting me with Calomine lotion. I looked like I had leprosy; and the itch was so bad I wanted to rip my skin off.

Unbeknownst to me Geoffrey was cruising the Internet like mad trying to figure out what kind of bites it this could be -- as in could it be bed bugs -- or worse? And unbeknownst to Geoffrey I was doing the exact same thing. Allyson was busy filling empty water bottles and sticking them in the freezer -- rubbing them up and down my arms and legs was the only way to temporarily stop the itching.

We went to the drug store and stocked up on more Calomine and some over-the-counter anti-histimines. It didn't help and the next day they insisted I go to the doctor.

It was a reaction to either mosquito or sandfly bites. Allyson was convinced I'd arrived from Barbados with some tiny red spots. I did vaguely remember the same thing and it would have made sense. I'd arrived at the hotel at dusk ... both the bar and the restaurant were outdoors and near the beach ... and it hadn't occured to me that I should spray myself with Deet. Who could blame me? I was still a space cadet from the strike.

Anyway, the doctor gave me a prescription for a steroid cream and some extra strenth anti-histimines ... told me not to spray with either sunscreen or Deet because all I was doing was irritating my skin even more ... suggested I stay away from the beach and in air-conditioned quarters. He said it would take 48 hours to begin to feel better. I was going home in 3 days.

Ha! Air conditioning! Ha!

We bought a new mosquito net for my bedroom on the way home -- one that would actually fit the bed. I did not leave the house. I barely left the shower because the icy cold water felt so good. I was never without a plastic water bottle fresh out of the freezer which I rubbed over my arms and legs constantly -- from the moment I woke up to the instant I fell asleep. And I went through about 4 tubes of the steroid cream and I don't know how many anti-histimines.

And I did tons of work on my book -- which was great. And the three of us still had a great time. Believe it or not, I was happy and still enjoying myself despite this drama -- even though I couldn't drink because of the pills.

And then, before I knew it, it was time to pack again. The doctor had been right -- the itch had finally subsided and while the bites hadn't disappeared, they were no longer red, swollen and angry. They had faded to an old rose colour. My biggest fear was that they'd take one look at me at the airport and they wouldn't let me on the plane for fear that I had some kind of communicable disease. So I decided I'd wear long pants and a long-sleeved T-shirt home.

Anyway ... on this, my last day, I decided to pack early so we could be free to enjoy ourselves. We had decided to go out for a nice dinner. Geoffrey went for a hike and Allyson was painting.

I went to my bedroom and hauled out my suitcase. I reached up to tie the mosquito net up so it wouldn't be in my way. The tail got caught in the ceiling fan. One of the blades of the ceiling fan broke in half and came crashing down to the floor. This caused the net to rip off its mooring at the top.

First I just stared at it all in horror. Then I swore very loudly. Then I sat down on the bed and started to cry. Then I started to laugh hysterically. Then I swore again. By then Allyson had joined me. She looked around at the mess and said quietly: "Don't worry, I can fix the net -- I've brought a sewing kit with me." Then she looked up and noticed the fan was missing a blade. Then she looked down and saw it sitting on the floor -- broken in half. Then she said: "Don't worry, we may have an extra blade somewhere."

I was mortified! I wanted to shoot myself! I am not a careless person. I am not stupid. What was wrong with me? Why was this trip filled with one calamity after another? I was sure that neither she or Geoffrey would ever want to set eyes on me again.

And then Allyson said, "You won't be able to use the ceiling fan tonight."

By the time Geoffrey got back from his hike I'd found a hotel to say in for the night. Not because they were throwing me out -- because I could not spend a night without at least a fan -- not with my bites.

Geoffrey decided to call the hotel and see if they had a restaurant where we could all have dinner. Suddenly I heard raucous laughter coming from the living room. I wandered in and saw the two of them clutching their sides, rolling around on the couch. They were laughing so hard they couldn't speak.

I started to laugh although I didn't know why. Their laughter was contagious. It was the perfect end to this two-week long melodrama I called a vacation:

Although the ad in the directory said the hotel was in Bequia it was, in fact, in Saint Vincent. I had a room in a hotel I couldn't get to.

None of us would ever forget this holiday. Ever.

Geoffrey took over while I finished packing. The people who own The Mosquito own a hotel -- right on the property. It was air conditioned and beautiful. They had one room and it was mine -- for over $400 for the night.

Who cares?

I went out on the terrace and took one, last look. Believe it or not, we could see Mustique. Magnificent. Worth all the time and the trouble and trauma. With a wistful sigh I went back inside.


Noel picked us up and took us to the hotel. I decided I'd pass on dinner in The Mosquito because I didn't want any more bites. Geoffrey and Allyson went to the bar for some well-deserved cocktails.

I checked in, went to my room, stripped off all my clothes and turned the air conditioner on full blast. My goose bumps were bigger than my bites but I didn't care. I ordered dinner -- BBQ'd chicken -- which was raw. Really raw.

Never mind ...

And then I noticed it. This huge brown thing that looked like a grasshopper. The sucker was the size of a water glass.

Even there, in a luxury hotel, in a $400 room, I would be plagued by creatures and mosquitos. I took a shoe and killed every bug in sight. None of them were safe. Then I took one of the pillowcases and slowly, stealthily crept towards "it". As I got close -- but not so close as to scare it -- I threw the pillowcase over "it", quickly tying the end into not 1 -- not 2 -- but 3 knots!!

"It" was left for the chambermaid!

Not trusting the Liat strike to be over by the time I was due to leave, I booked myself on that small local airline as soon as I got to Bequia. So now I had a flight to Barbados instead of having to take the ferry to Saint Vincent and then flying to Barbados -- and then flying home.

Geoffrey, Allyson and Noel took me to the airport. The plane -- when it finally arrived some 2 hours late was the size of a mini van. In order to get up enough speed to take off it went up and down the runway -- which was only the length of 2 or 3 city blocks -- several times.

Never mind ...

I just closed my eyes and re-opened them when we landed in Barbados. I arrived back in Toronto mere moments before midnight on December 31.

It took more than a month for the bites to disappear completely and about six weeks for the infection in my ears that I'd come home with to improve ... but the wonderful and hysterically funny memories I have of Bequia will last forever.

Here's to my next trip ...

Posted by a_broad 09:52 Archived in St Vincent/The Grenadines Tagged photography

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