Friday, July 24, 2015

Let's talk about bed bugs.

It was naive to be surprised when one of us woke up with a rash of bites on his hip.  After frantically searching sheets, blankets, and mosquito nets, I found two bed bugs that had invaded my personal space and felt a twinge of satisfaction listening to the crunch of their breaking bodies as I crushed them between my fingernails.  However, the satisfaction didn't last long as I paused to think about how many eggs and other bed bugs there must be in the mattress fibers and the wooden frames of the beds that five of us passed out on every night in the confines of a single room.

At the beginning of my stay here at this house in Nairobi, the spacious master bedroom was comforting, as each of us could claim a corner and spread out our meager wardrobes and align our smelly dusty shoes under each bed.  But now, every extra square inch of space seemed to be another mecca for a colony of those sneaky, conniving little bastards.  I feel dirty and embarrassed knowing we have bed bugs, but it's worse not knowing where they came from.  They could have come from anywhere: from one of us, from a matatu, from a safari, from the students at school, from one of the new beds; you never know.

As I write this, there's a man spraying bed bug poison all over our room upstairs.

Side note: as I was collecting my things for the day, it was just he and I in the room.  When he found out I was from the U.S., he stated proudly that he will visit there one day and find a lady to marry.  I gave him a half-hearted smile and a "That's nice!" and scurried out of the room.

After school that afternoon, I meticulously laid all my belongings out in the sun and washed every item of clothing in hot water.  By hand.  It was terrible.  It made me want to forever keep my hair cropped short and par my wardrobe down to even fewer items just to be able to easily deal with issues like this in the future.


A week later, we encountered bed begs again while Couchsurfing with a wonderful woman in the coastal town of Mtwapa.  I did indeed get bit, but thank goodness bed bugs are the one insect that my body dismisses.  I'm extremely allergic to every other kind of bite, but I'm thankful I don't have to spend two itchy weeks watching the small cluster of bites turn red, then black, then slowly fade away.

While I dread finding their tick-like bodies crawling in my bed, or evidence of whatever blood meal they had before me on the sheets when I wake up in the morning, I also understand that this definitely won't be the last time I encounter them.  I know what to look for and I know how to deal with them, and I also know that it's a small price to pay for being able to travel and live like this.  No guarantees I won't complain about them, though...

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