A Solo Female Traveler's Experiences On And Off The Beaten Path

The Blood Sucking Vampire Mosquitoes Of Bucaramanga, Colombia

Mosquitoes. Just mentioning this pesky flying insect sends everyone into a frenzy of hate-filled diatribes. I have always included mosquitoes in the same category as every other biting insect whom I despise with a vengeance. It is not the mosquitoes fault, they are simply following their given path in life to suck the blood from any creature they can. I just happen to possess the blood they especially enjoy. I have also tried to not hate them as much as others because they may one day help to bring dinosaurs back. It was not until I arrived in Bucaramanga, Colombia that I discovered a whole new level of mosquito hell. It was so bad it warranted a trip to the hospital. My time there has thus become known as the weeks I spent with the blood sucking vampire mosquitoes of Bucaramanga, Colombia.

The blood sucking vampire mosquitos of Bucaramanga, I am convinced, are of a different breed than any other mosquito on the planet. If the Nazi’s really did plan on using mosquitoes as a biological weapon they probably met the Bucaramanga strain before coming up with the idea. One could blame the hostel I was residing at, wherein they thought it was a good idea to have a pool with only a foot of water on the bottom and no circulation so mosquitoes could breed to their heart’s content (Do mosquitoes even have hearts? I think not.) Or it could be because of the location in Bucaramanga the hostel was located; high up on a mountain surrounded by lush greenery and lots of rain to keep the area moist for mosquitoes. Whatever the reason may be for the vampire mosquitoes existing makes no difference. They are there, and they are heartless when it comes to inflicting pain on the innocent traveler in their midst.

A Mosquito

I know what you are thinking. Why didn’t she just wear mosquito repellant? Oh, I did. I sprayed myself down with it each and every day. I rubbed my legs from top to bottom. I tried multiple brands. The makers of OFF! can go screw themselves for their false advertising. Bob’s something or other brand can do the same. I even pumped myself full of B-1 vitamins (Thiamin) until I am sure I was overdosing. That always helped me everywhere else in the world–not in Bucaramanga. I tried ingesting large amounts of garlic, including the pill form. No help there, either. Nothing worked against the little blood suckers who did not only come out at dawn and dusk but hid themselves in the couch, awaiting to pounce on the unsuspecting victim who wanted to relax and watch some television or read a book. Think taking a shower is safe? Think again. This action would only make me their daily spoil. If a mosquito can get fat from sucking large amounts of blood then these mosquitoes are surely so fat they can barely fly at this point; all thanks to my delicious type-O blood.

Handling mosquito bites is a given in South America. I never dreamed multiple bites would send me to the hospital, and then it happened. The blood sucking vampire mosquitoes of Bucaramanga caused such a reaction in my body that anywhere I was bitten swelled. Not a little but of swelling. Oh no, that would be too easy. We are talking here about my knee being swollen twice its size and my ankles too. I’ve never had cankles, but suddenly have a deeper empathy for those who do. The swelling only got worse as the days passed, and the pain in my muscles also grew. I was handling it all well and good, with minimal complaining aside from the sounds of pain I made when walking, sitting, standing–you see where this is going? I was in PAIN!!!

Then I got the flu.

Oh yes, it was not enough for me to be itching and in pain and swollen but I was also now physically ill. After three days of flu-like symptoms, and reading how the number one sign of Dengue Fever (and some cases of Yellow Fever) is flu-like symptoms I gave in and sought medical help. I had no desire to die in Bucaramanga, surrounded by those little blood suckers and giving them the satisfaction of having succeeded with their ultimate life plan of causing misery. On a beautiful Monday morning I made my way to the medical center in Bucaramanga and was treated to an exam and tests for Dengue and Yellow Fever. Everything came back clear and I was sent home with instructions to wear repellant. Ha! The doctor also told me that with time the reaction to the mosquitos would lessen until I was nearly immune. That has not happened yet.

The way I managed the rest of my time with the blood sucking vampire mosquitoes of Bucaramanga, Colombia was to wear leggings each and every day (and I had to go buy them at the mall). I even wore socks too. So, there I was, looking like something out of an 80s fashion magazine with leggings and dresses over them or a t-shirt with socks over my ankles. I would have fit in nicely at a ballet school. I did not care. It kept the blood suckers from getting me any longer. I never sat on the couch, and I got a mosquito net for the bed. I lived in fear each and every day. The RAID Plug-in for mosquitos did help a bit as well.

The irony of the entire situation is that the day before I left Bucaramanga the mosquitoes learned how to bite me through my leggings and socks. Absolute madness! I got out of there just in time…to meet a new breed of mosquito in Ecuador.

I wore my leggings to dinner last night.

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