Written by: SONIA “THE INNER GARDENER” HENRY
I am sitting on the edge of my bed, calmly poised with insect zapper in hand.
I am frustrated, I feel irritated from being sung to in my ears just as I drift off to sleep.
This seems liked a nightly ritual campaigned by the dreaded mosquito.
I am up and I am ready for battle; smiling with the anticipation of the clickety-click,
zap zap sound of my weapon against the sneaky little mosquitoes.
The insect zapper is the ally that has helped me to survive anything that
creeps, crawls, flies, hops, or anything else that could end up
landing on me in my new life. This is execution time, my little friends.
Buzzzz…. Zappity zap!! Clickety-click! Gone! Goodnight!!!
The above excerpt from my journal was written two years ago after I first moved to Jamaica, my rock of choice. I have been living here for four years now. I have overcome many obstacles that I would never have dreamed possible. The dramatic landscape of rock living can take some getting used to. Living on the rock means having to live with the balance of nature. With the constant climate and environmental changes happening, I sometimes wonder how I have managed to survive and still be smiling. Playing tennis at night with singing mosquitoes must be therapeutic, I guess?
My deeply rooted fear of insects (officially known as Entomophobia or Acarophobia) could have actually prevented me from taking the final plunge in my dream of moving to an island. I was seriously contemplating not even getting on the plane knowing that my decision to live in Jamaica also meant having to live with all kinds of creepy crawlies, many of them new to me, making them that much scarier. This, coupled with my body’s allergic reaction to insect bites, was a mass of impossible hurdles to overcome in my mind’s eye.
My mind flashes back to all of those sun and fun-filled holidays that were overshadowed by sore and swollen bites all over my body. The dreaded mosquitoes just seemed to love munching on my fresh, British-born legs. They worked their way up my arms and back, feasting all the way. A couple of really cheeky culprits even caught me right on the top of my eyelid on two separate holidays. I thought that was real foul play on the part of the mosquitoes, a low blow even for them. I had been oblivious to their singing and stinging until the itching and swelling woke me up. That time, I was happy to return to England to rethink my desire to “go home”. Swollen eyes are no joke when on holiday.
Now, I have been a resident on the rock for long enough to know that the irksome mosquito bite is not just an itch to be scratched, but a true force to be reckoned with. When I first arrived, it was Dengue fever. I managed to avoid contracting it by following the advice of the Ministry of Health and the Jamaica Information Service that was bellowed out of loud speakers in battered government vehicles. These vehicles were often seen crawling along busy and sometimes not so busy roads and districts.
Next came the Chikungunya virus – now that one got me. I warned it to leave me out of its business, and I took as many precautions as the average person can to prevent the attack from happening. I adopted an extra special positive mental attitude towards it. I KNEW that I would not be slain like the rest of the population that I saw falling around me. The bent over gait of the Chick V victims recognized each other in passing by with the signature walk of the aged. Jamaicans made a Chik V dance, songs were written about it, and it made headline news. Alas, despite my best efforts, I was struck down and left a disabled bed-bound wreck for five days. I too adopted “the walk” for a while; it was the best that I could do once I was up and about again.
Now comes the arrival of the mighty Zika virus. Apparently, it’s a close relative of Dengue and Chikungunya, but it’s the most dangerous risk to pregnant mothers. Nature’s got to be joking with this one! Temporary crippling of its victims is one thing, but the thought of mosquitoes preventing the entrance of healthy life into the world is another. Dengue, Chikungunya, and Zika will go down in history as battles against the rock. Me? I’m not going down that easily.
And so I sit, perched on the edge of my bed, poised for battle with the singing mosquitoes, anticipating with glee the clickety-click, zappity- zap of my insect zapper.
It’s battle time, Zika… just try me.