Going Home to Africa

One Woman's quest to return home, driving from Europe to Zimbabwe.

Things that go bite !

20190521_114934 Green mosquito heaven
I have to be honest, I’m delicious, not even an acquired taste, just plain outright delicious! 
 
That is the opinion of any small biting thing that is around, especially mosquitos.  It is the bane of my life and I can confess that I have been scarred with PTSD as a consequence of the mosquitos of Africa.  When the merest twitch or brush against any part of my body I will twitch with unexpected urgency as a reflexive action, after having been subjected to untold number of bites over my lifetime with an intensity over the months I was driving through Africa.
 
Apart from the time that I was in Morocco and Mauritania, especially the latter where I’m certain is probably an entirely hostile environment for these pesky creatures, whilst the hot and humid environment of sub-Saharan Africa was entirely to their liking.  I most of all dreaded the lovely lush green gardens with beautiful thriving tropical plants which were always the home of a gazzilion of these pests.
 
I have also become an expert on the mosquito, you may think that a mosquito is a mosquito … not at all, there are different sizes of mosquito from visible to virtually microscopic and their bites vary too.  I have yet to master which mosquito bite is the result of which mosquito, my research is however, regrettably, ongoing.  
 
The bits vary too, there is the bite which results in a large pink blotch of several centimetres in circumference leading to a dark pink and angry looking solid bump with a pinhole somewhere amidst it.  There was the red blotch with tiny blisters from their several proboscis, another being the tiny dot of a bite which tended to burn like I had been set on fire.  I experienced all of these, whilst in Benin, parked at a hostel with a garden that everyone seemed to insist on watering several times a day creating a sheer mosquito heaven, my legs and arms were covered in dots of bites and I was told ‘you’re not just Dot in name’ … oh gosh, a new Dot joke.
 
I struggled with mosquito screens, finding it impossible to secure every mm of the uneven door spaces against the tiny torpedoes, no matter how careful I was there was almost always one or several that managed to make their way in.  The only solid way to ensure that I remained safe from their prying proboscis was to lock myself in the van … which in the heat meant being in a tin can sauna.  
 
Many was the night when I would be woken by the dive-bombing whine which would send me under the duvet cover that I used as a sheet, from which I would attempt to swat them away.  Spraying with insect spray was usually the only option but that meant having to open the door for ventilation so I too didn’t expire and the consequence of that was that there would be several more making their attempt to attack me.
 
Many was the night I spent hiding under the sheet sweating like I was doing a purge in a sauna, merely to prevent getting bitten by the monsters.
 
I had been warned about the dangers of DEET and consequently I had armed myself with several different types of ‘environmentally friendly’ and ‘eco/natural’ mosquito repellents.  The problem was that none of them worked, and most of them stank horribly, especially as I despise the smell of citronella (a common ingredient) on my skin.  I even tried combinations of the sprays putting several and even all of them on at one time … the only one offended was me, I wished I could stay away from myself.
 
By the time I arrived in Angola I had truly become a nervous wreck when it came to mosquitos and when I chanced upon a well-known brand of mosquito repellent with DEET, I snatched it off the shelf, without the slightest concern for anything other than that I should be able to rid myself of bites.
 
The mosquito was also responsible for the worm that ate away at my elbow for several weeks, a mosquito borne disease called filariasis, whereby the mosquito deposits the spore into the skin and from there a worm develops, this worm then makes lots of tiny worms and these can find their way into your lymph nodes blocking them and causing elephantiasis.  I was lucky to have it diagnosed, yuk!
 
Of course the incredible wonder is that despite all this biting and sucking, I managed, by some sheer miracle, to avoid getting malaria … and I was absolutely in malaria areas as other overlanders who had been on similar routes to me had been less fortunate and come down with it.   I had opted not to take prophylactics as there was such a conflicting amount of information and most of it agreed that it was inadvisable to take it for long periods of time.  
 
As they say if you thing small things don’t make a difference, you’ve never been in a room with a mosquito.  The mosquito is responsible for more deaths that almost any other disease as they also carry Zika, dengue and a number of other diseases in addition to the most common killer, malaria.
 
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Monday, 26 October 2020

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About Dot

Dot is Zimbabwean born and raised and after having lived in Europe for 20 years she decided to return home but uniquely she decided to drive  through Africa to get there.

She achieved her dream by driving 20,000kms through 18 West African countries over 8.5 months on her own for most of the journey.  Her book of the same title will soon be launched,and you can find out more about Dot or subscribe to the Blog for more.

 

Contribute to the Journey

This journey could not have been done without the kind and generous support of so many, see a page of those who contributed through the website.  Their support made this great adventure possible.

 

Kusasa Scholarship Fund

Alongside my journey I've decided to raise funds for scholarships for girl's education in Zimbabwe, find out more about that here, to contribute to the Scholarship Fund please do so here.