Saturday, May 29, 2010

Mosquito Wars

This is the rainy season in Sudan. The term "Rainy Season," is relative though. It's not like India where is rains, from what I gather, for months on end. Here, from roughly April to October, there is an increased likelihood of rain, versus the rest of the year when there is normally no rain whatsoever. The only drawback to receiving the life-giving rains is that it increases the incidence of mosquitoes. This is problematical because without any program of eradication and with mounds of garbage everywhere serving as collection points for rain, the number of mosquitoes is very great. And, as luck would have it, Sub-Sahara Africa is one of the worst places on earth for mosquito born and transmitted diseases. In addition to the usual suspects of Yellow and Dengue fevers, and the much more rare Elephantasis or Sleeping Sickness (though, in fairness, the latter is transmitted by the dreaded Tsetse flies and not mosquitoes), the worst of the lot is Malaria, which still kills millions every year in spite of its being a completely preventable disease. All of this makes anyone living in the Sudan very aware of the existence and behavior of the pesky bugs, even to the point of becoming famiiar with the different types. The common mosuito, Culex, rests parallel to any wall its upon and mostly just causes inconvenience. Aedes, another parallel rester with swept-back wings like an F-14, spreads Dengue and Yellow Fever. Finally, Anapheles, a rather humpbacked looking beast, rests with its head towards the wall and its hind end sticking out. Culex and Anapheles are morning and evening feeders, while Aedes feeds during the day,meaning that at almost no point is one safe from annoyance and risk. You take the usual precautions of wearing long pants, long sleeved shirts, hats and bug repellent while at home (sans hat) and out and about. This is somewhat trying given that the average daytime temperatures here hover around 90-degrees making Sudan feel all the time very much like Virginia in July and August. You also become obsessed with trying to keep the bugs out of your quarters. Virtually all windows here are covered with fine screening, though somehow mosquitoes still manage to get through. You also try and swat them when you can knowing fully well that you're not accomplishing much but it just feels so darned good to do! In my lodgings there were five vents-ways left near the ceiling between my rooms and the adjacent hallway and bedroom. These were unscreened and, especially the vent that was open to the common hallway which opened directly to the outside, permitted large numbers of mosquitoes to enter my rooms. I have tried, with only marginal success, to get the other people living in my building to keep the door to the outside closed to keep the bugs at bay. But last friday evening, I took about an hour and using some extra netting and a roll of duck tape that I'd brought with me (Because you never go anywhere without duck-tape) and standing upon a plastic table and chairs I'd crafted into a ladder so I could reach, was able to cover over the vent-ways, giving me a small feeling of victory in the never ending mosquito wars. This has helped to eliminate about ninety-percent of the mosquitoes getting into my room, but vigilence is always required.


  1. Perhaps the talent you developed at W & L to be able to hit a fly in midflight using a paperclip and rubberband will come back with a little practice... that is if you bought a rubberband and paperclip with you. Glad for your vent victory!

  2. We forget that most people in the world are struggling for their very existence and not worried about their 401k. Thank you for your good works

  3. Your posts are great, Larry. I look forward to more about your life in an unfamiliar landscape. Our prayers and blessings go with you as you sojourn.