There are lots of bugs in Africa. Ants, flies, spiders, cockroaches. The mosquito. All of these, of course, can be sampled in the states, but they pose elevated risks here, particularly in the evening. Which is why medication, particularly for malaria, is necessary.
Of the three reasonably priced malaria pills, one is prohibitively more expensive than the others, so most people choose between either mefloquine or doxycylcine. The former is to be taken once a week and its potential side effects most famously include vivid dreams or nightmares. The latter is a daily pill that makes people hyper-sensitive to the sun. Given that I’ll be hanging out on the equator for the next two months and I don’t exactly tan well, I rolled the dice on the vivid dreams.
So if you’re keeping score at home, when I go to bed, I’m worried about potentially disturbing dreams and being attacked by disease carrying bugs that treat my body like the Bellagio buffet. That’s a pretty solid 1-2 punch.
As an added defense against the bugs generally and malaria specifically, mosquito nets are employed and credited with preventing hundreds of thousands of deaths annually in Africa. So my roommate and I each acquired mosquito nets. His was already hanging from a hook drilled into the ceiling. We had to find a hook at the store for mine. I found one of those plastic jobs with adhesive backing. Its packaging featured exclusively Chinese writing, which makes a lot of sense in Uganda.
Either way, it stuck to the ceiling and seemed to support the weight of the mosquito net. I even added reinforcement from some scotch tape I found. Shane 1, Mosquitos 0. It’s nice to go to sleep only facing the prospect of vivid, potentially horrifying dreams.
* * *
A few minutes before 1:22 a.m., the net attacked. I don’t know if it was the deteriorating adhesive, the growing humidity, or a giant insect assault, but the net came down, trapping me.
I screamed. Loud. Like a girl. I felt like Spider-Man shot me with his web. I didn’t know where I was. I didn’t know what had happened. The more I flailed, the more tangled up I became. It took me a good five seconds to figure out that the net had fallen, and even then, I felt like I was covered in bug.
It was twenty minutes before my heart rate was back to resting pace. So much for bad dreams.