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Day 70 – Bastarding Mosquitoes

1st December 2011

sunny 27 °C

The road from Savuti to Linyanti Swamps is, first and foremost, not a road. It is thirty bulldozed kilometres of deep, axle deep, sand, interspersed with roots, stumps and small lakes. It took three hours of maintaining slightly high revs in low ratio third and fourth; or high first and second to get there. As we entered the camp we saw four giraffe, the only discernable wildlife heavier than one hundred grams that we’d seen all morning. We were, and would be, the only ones there that evening. Furthermore, ‘the animals have all gone’ said our camp manager. ‘But the mosquitos are here.’ Superb.

Linyanti camp sat on the Chobe River bank looking out across the wide expanse of water, marshland and marauding hippopotamuses; we could see the trees of the Caprivi Strip of Namibia looming on the far bank. Grunts of hippos unseen and significantly nearer were also obvious but they remained out of view.

Our evening game drive got us out and about and we were soon reinforcing some ‘semi-tracks’ through the bush. I’ve made the phrase ‘semi tracks’ up but they’re the vague tracks you see when a few cars have driven that way before but the tracks aren’t quite consistent and several large shrubs still stand in the way; all be it that they are flexible from repeated running-over. With every car they were becoming more obvious and we were doing our best to make them a little more permanent. We even came across an elephant that thought they provided a nice route too. The wardens had been right. There was very little wildlife about. The rains had arrived; the small pools and puddles that had formed in the bush meant that the creatures didn’t need a river for water anymore and the bushes thick growing iridescent green canopy thickened by the sunlit hour.

As we got back it was dark, the second we got out of the car we were in trouble. The high pitched buzz of a mosquito in flight was angst-inducingly obvious. They flew into your ears, they ate your feet, your face, they got under your clothes and in your mouth and that one shrill buzz soon became a symphony as they multiplied hounding our existence. No wonder hippos have six centimetre thick skin. They were biting us through our clothes. If we sat down they bit through the mesh of the chair, and into the tightly pressed flesh of arse against trousers. Out came the mosquito candles, we’d have been better trying to piss on the little buggers. Out came the spray and we hissed it all over us until it was as repellent to us as we hoped to them. And still they came.

We forfeit dinner, only the corn was ready, and that would have to do until daybreak. We hastily climbed up into the tent, with the laptop, and set about attempting to hermetically seal ourselves from the outside world. With the rains came humidity and we were trapping ourselves into two cubic metres of air space with no fresh air current and just thick the thick chewable air left to breathe and it thickened with every breathe. We lay in just our cotton sleeping bag liners trying to watch a film on the computer. Soon our liners were too sodden to sleep in so we lay there in just our under-scratchers. But the little bastards were still getting in. We’d stop the film repeatedly and begin a torch lit search for the offenders clapping them or squishing them into the afterlife. All too often a slapped hand against the tent wall would be lifted to reveal a two centimetre smear of one our blood types. They were getting so fat they were easier to kill. They were dying in their tens, but always came reinforcements. By ten o’clock I needed a wee. Jumping from the tent I immediately felt them biting me. The only life saving factor was that after years of practice I could wee with no hands. If there had been any light my hands would have been seen as a blur of anti-mosquito karate chops and waves protecting the priceless. Somers jumped out an hour later, she wasn’t so lucky and as she crouched down her bottom became an easy target.

In the tent the air was becoming acrid with our sweat. Our once heavenly feather pillows were flat and sodden. To make matters worse we’d strung up the mosquito net to try and protect us but, given it doesn’t fit our tent properly, it hung on our faces thickening the air even more and creating a distinct claustrophobia. The air became so thick it felt like my airway was collapsing when I took a breath; but to open a window would mean being eaten alive by mosquitoes that were very likely carrying malaria. It was a horrible, uncomfortable and miserable night. We spent most of it trying to squish our would-be attackers. We barely slept and at five o’clock, as light arrived, we got up, packed up and left.

Posted by ibeamish 00:08 Archived in Botswana

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