January 16, 2013

Don't Get Bit!

I was just starting to dream a bit when my gate-bell rung, with that ear-piercing screech that'd wake the dead. I've learned not to always answer that bell, because most times, it's a door-to-door peddler.  If I'm up, I'll go out to politely refuse his wares, but if I'm in bed, well, I let him move onto the next house.

But this visitor was ringing and clapping and ringing and clapping, in rapid succession.  Thinking something must be wrong, Ken and I both jumped up to throw on something decent and open the front door.  Mind you, it was well past dawn, but we'd gotten to bed only a few hours earlier, after talking to the missions-minded young-adult group in San Diego, California in the wee hours of the morning.  So I was a bit more than slightly embarrassed to open the door in my robe with hair disheveled.  I could hear their thoughts. "Lazy foreigner.  Get up already!"

Standing at the gate were two girls that didn't look much over 16, with those official flourescent yellow aprons and a bright orange hazmat-style trash bag.  Uh-oh.  This can't be good.

"Ma'am, we're from the government (flashing her patch and quoting the name of some acronym I should recognize) and we need to inspect your home and yard." Oh, Lordie.  For real?

But what can you say to the government?  "Give me just a second to get dressed, please, and I'll be right out."  Their obvious huffs spoke more than their nods of assent, but can't a girl at least brush her teeth?

Turns out that someone in the neighborhood has dengue fever, which is spread by mosquitoes biting an infected person then biting you.  A couple of people have died this year already, from the hemorrhagic version of the sickness.  So these gals inspected our home and our front and back yards for standing water (breeding grounds for mosquitoes), and explained that we should change the dog's water and wash his bowl three times a day, to get rid of any eggs that could be lurking there.

They sprinkled poison in the kiddie pool we had put out for the little ones, so we'll be dumping that for a fresh batch of water soon.  But they found nothing that caused them to freak out, at least that I could see.

I tried to make small talk to ease the oddness of their visit, but these little gals were all business and had no time for my personal jibber-jabber.  They had mosquitoes to kill.

Sometimes I get so used to life here that I forget things aren't as I assume, that we really live in a different world than what I'd always known.  A few nights ago, we were sitting inside a restaurant in town, visiting with the owner and her children.  The tables spill out onto the sidewalk just a few inches from the road, where most people prefer to eat.

All of a sudden, a small truck drove by slowly, sending out a constant, hard spray of mosquito poison.  I'd seen these all the time in South Carolina, but they generally spray out the back of the truck.  This time, the spray was shooting out the side, from a hose about 8 inches across.  The truck drove as close as possible to the edge of the road, right along the sidewalk.

Needless to say, the poison covered the tables, the people walking on the sidewalk, the motorcycles, everything.  A couple of ladies came running in with their hands over their mouths.  I was VERY thankful we had chosen to sit inside that night.  But folks didn't seem as yucked out about it as I did, including the family that arrived and sat at one of the outside tables as soon as the truck passed by.

At these times of year, I pray for all those living on the street or in homes that don't really close, with windows that aren't actually windows--no screen, no glass.  And I pray that the mosquito assassins do their job well!

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