Another bug post

Yesterday, I had no internet – not due to power failure or holiday, but user error.  I haven’t memorized the times the library is open yet, but I remembered 12:00 – so I thought it opened at 12:00.  Wrong – open 8:00-12:00.  And today it’s open from 14:00-17:00 and 19:00-22:00.  I miss my 24 hour library.

So, since I had passed my Saturday morning doing work, I spent the afternoon watching the end of V for Vendetta and then sitting on the American professor’s porch and whiling away the hours.  In the late afternoon, he took me to see the farms on campus and the village nearby, because I hadn’t seen either yet.  It is still the dry season here, so the non-irrigated fields are plowed and harrowed, but not yet planted.  Bunda has a dam, though, so it has some irrigated fields of vegetables.  The dam is quite a distance from campus – 10K or so – and the road is not paved, so it was a slow and bumpy ride.

The lake behind the dam was a spectacular site, though – brilliant blue against the dying light.  I wished I had my camera, but hadn’t thought to take it, since I was planning to spend the afternoon shooting the breeze with the American prof.  Near the dam they were growing beans of some sort – the American prof thought they were soybeans, but they didn’t look like soybeans to me – tomatoes, and cabbage.  Bunda has an aquaculture program, so there are also fish ponds by the dam.  We stopped at Bunda Farms Ltd, which, as far as I can ascertain, is a commercial venture that students aren’t really involved with.  There were several young men there – guards, they told us.  The farm raises a variety of animals, and they sell chickens for K350, dressed and all, which is significantly cheaper than what you can get in town.  (I was thrilled just to realize that plucking was included in the price.)   We also drove through several small settlements.  I’m not sure that they’re even really villages, but clusters of houses and a few stores.

It was getting dark by the time I got back to the guest house, and I couldn’t help but be reminded of a family pasttime in Iowa:  the country drive, just to see what one can see (usually, how the crops look and if the neighbors appear to be doing anything interesting).  We used to go on Sunday afternoons after eating pizza in Corning, and most of what I remember is fighting with my brother and how torturous the drives seemed because I always had to pee.  Still, the sentiment was probably the same, at least for the adults.

The dirt here is red, and the dust is very fine and manages to get into and onto everything.  when the wind blows, dust just hangs in the air – imperceptible to the eye except in the distance, but you can smell it and grit it in your teeth.  Last night after the drive, I could feel it in my hair, and I dusted off my computer screen yesterday and the tissue looked like I had wiped foundation on it.  I’d say that I’m looking forward to the rainy season, but I’m not looking forward to the promise of more mosquitoes.

Anyone who knew me as a child (not all of you, but some of you, gentle readers) knows that Amy and mosquitoes are a volatile mix.  When I was a kid, I could never stop scratching the bites.  I’m a little better now, but the mosquitoes here are vicious and persistent.  The last two nights, one has made its way under my mosquito net (though I’m not sure how, since there are no holes in it) and divided its time buzzing in my ear and chomping on my legs.  The welts are huge, red, and even look bruised.  My 100% DEET is only a temporary deterrent.  In addition to the one INSIDE my net, I think I’ve also been getting bitten through the net on my hands and feet (which are, I guess, close enough to the edge to be in the danger zone).  I’ve been taking my anti-malaria pills (with food now), but if you have any other anti-mosquito tips, please share them now!

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3 Responses to “Another bug post”

  1. Linda Says:

    when I was little we used Avon Skin-So-Soft, which is this sickly sweet oil that deters mosquitoes like magic. probably hard to come by in Malawi, but you never know. other than that, all I’ve heard is no bananas and no bright colors, but I’d imagine you’re not eating bananas in a red nightgown while you sleep, so I’m afraid that advice isn’t much good either.

  2. Kathleen Says:

    Some people claim that eating garlic (or taking garlic pills) helps. I don’t know from personal experience, however. I’m enjoying reading about your life in Malawi. Love and hugs!

  3. Donna Says:

    I could send Laura over – we’ve always said the best mosquito repellent in the world for the rest of us is to be in the vicinity of the mosquito buffet! They always go for her. :0)

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