Nightly Ritual

Dead Mosquito

Nothing is more satisfying than killing a blood-engorged mosquito.

Every night I battle the mosquitos that enter my room during the day.  My room doubles as a storage space for our inventory and as my sleeping space.  It’s inevitable that some of these pesky creatures will enter when the door is left ajar.

The mosquitoes don’t become active until 10pm or 11pm.  They deftly fly in circuitous routes.  Only when one buzzes outside my ear or after one has left a trail of bites on my neck, arm, or leg, do I realize that I need to go after them.

Mosquito Coil

Most Ghanaians light mosquito coils that create a force-field.  Coils offer relief in exchange for a strange odor and the knowledge that you’re living in an insecticide-filled room.

As far as I’m concerned, coils are merely step one in my nightly ritual.    Coils are good when you just have too many of these things flying about.  The poisonous mist compels them to fly as far as they can from the source: the ceiling.

Step 2: take my trusty broom using a reverse squash motion.  The downside is that your ceiling may become broom and mosquito stained.

Honestly, I prefer getting up close and personal with the bloodsuckers.  God has blessed me with especially good eyesight.  I can usually pick them out on a wall, blanket, and, of course, in flight.  You need something that has both large surface area AND does not create excessive disturbances in the air.  On a surface, I prefer using an open palm.  In flight, I find the flat clap of a five-year old the best way of surprising them.

Tonight I have killed five and I’m on my sixth.

One good thing is that the bites of mosquitoes in Ghana only itch for an hour or so.

Yes, it’s possible to become infected with malaria.  Through experience I’ve learned that malaria is like a cold in the US.   I’ve contracted malaria twice while in Ghana.  Almost everyone on my staff has contracted malaria — at least — once in the last twelve months.  The prescription is take a box of Coartem ($9); you should be feeling fine in a couple of days.  My understanding is only people who live in the bush and/or who don’t treat their malaria die from it.



    • Well, I’m saying the risk of malaria is overstated. I think a lot of it has to do with not understanding how effective treatment is. The truth is there are many things that are dangerous. For instance, friends from South Africa consider carjackings a normal part of life. SA has the highest per capita murder and rape rate in the developed world. They recognize the danger and take precautions to minimize the risks. Somehow they still call SA home

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