Yes, A Confirmed City Mouse

I have had some terrible mosquito bites and allergic reactions from various insects in the last few years.  I take it as a sad but inevitable part of my traveling life, especially since I keep following the sun and summer (this will be my first winter in the northern hemisphere in 4 years).  Bugs seem to really really like me no matter which continent they live on.  I act as an organic insect repellent to most people, i.e. when you’re with me you won’t have to worry about insects.  They will all come to me and I will be your human shield.  It’s true.  I’m your best defense against tiny venom carrying critters at a picnic.

Knowing this, I do my best to prevent the buggers from getting to me.  I’ve tried all the natural stuff, graduated to some serious DEET based repellents like Ultrathon, and even carry my own electric plug-in bug repellent and boxes of noxious chemical coils to burn when I’m going to India.  But even all that has failed me at times.  I’ve had to admit defeat and actually leave certain places because I got so badly bitten that not a square centimeter of clear skin was left on my body.  I know.  It’s horrific to even imagine…  I have some photos to prove my claims but for everyone’s sake I will refrain from posting them here.

So why am I saying all this today?  Well, it’s because what I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy has happened to me again!   I came down here to the Panamanian rainforest fully prepared for any and all mosquito attacks.  As it turns out, my concerns were totally unfounded and I have just a few little mosquito bites to speak of.  But from my second or third day here I noticed a series of red bumps showing up all over my legs and arms.  They’re slightly itchy and don’t swell up like mosquito bites.  Sometimes they appear very red and angry, and other times they look just like bug bites that are healing.  The first few I thought were mosquito, ant, or even spider bites, but now I’m thinking that I might be allergic to something.  What that is, I have absolutely no idea.  More than a week into my stay now I have so many of these red bumps that I stopped counting after 300…  They’re definitely not getting better or disappearing.  In fact, I now have them showing up on my neck and earlobe as well…

Last night when I stepped outside to say goodnight to P & K, I felt a hot sting on my arm.  Immediately I knew some insect had sank his poisonous needle into me and within seconds the crook of my left elbow doubled in size.

So far I’ve made peace with the dead flies and bees in my tea, rogue toads in the living room, poor stray birds crashing against my window, the scrawny brown chicken trying to find a way into the house, millions of ants crawling around and over everything, and the piercing high pitched squeaks these tiny geckos make in my room (the white albino gecko I just spotted on the wall is new for me, though).  But the baby scorpion we found crawling on the kitchen counter this morning (S. told me how he’s been bitten twice by scorpions IN BED), large spiders I see in the dark corners of my room, and the inexplicable mystery red bumps on my body do give me pause and make me a bit nervous.

I may not be cut out for this place…  I really AM a City Mouse?!  Do I need to call it quits and retreat back to civilization before all is lost?

This was a few weeks ago and I have since traveled to the States for Christmas.  All the humidity, heat, and insects seem almost unreal now…  especially since I was all covered in snow yesterday.

IMG_7517 IMG_7520I couldn’t admit defeat or find an effective way to keep the bumps from multiplying while I was in Bocas.  When I arrived in Panama City I couldn’t subject the good Panamanian people to my hideousness so I kept myself covered with long pants and long sleeves.  Back in the States I have shown my red dot covered legs and arms to my friends and family for sympathy and their amateur opinions on what this could have been (and for some sick reason I enjoy seeing the look of horror on their faces).  There has been no clear consensus but either people say I’m the worst case of no-see-um (sand fleas or biting midges) victim that ever lived in the history of mankind or I had an allergic reaction to something (because there are so many red bumps on my body that no one believes they can be insect bites).  Personally, I’m almost convinced that these were/are no-see-um bites but I had a slow reaction to them.  i.e. I didn’t feel the bites nor did I see them anywhere (except for a few when I sat and dined outside on A’s floating mansion), and the bumps didn’t develop/show up right away so they threw me off.  I came to this conclusion after some internet research and having had no improvement from days on anti-histamines.

But as I always say, “this too, shall pass.”  I hope I’m not permanently scarred and I will heal enough to wear a swimsuit again in the near future.

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