It started out with a bite or two here and there. I quickly learnt that 7/8th jeans weren’t designed for East Africa - a day (and more importantly night) wear, and I’m in for an unpleasant couple of days with itchy, red ankles. Scrapes, bites, burns.. you name it, I’ve accumulated it. And as if to mock me even further, the creeping crawling culprits are usually long gone before I get a chance to see what exactly it was the decided to make me it’s dinner.
Combine google with the vast array of insects, spiders, lizards and massive moths in this part of the world- and you've got a hypochondriac's worst nightmare. And unfortunately I’m part of that I’m-pretty-sure-I’m-sick category (which is a very hard thing to admit for someone who is always certain that the last thing to bite really was poisonous, and yes MH, you should probably take me to the hospital before I turn blue)
People I meet here are always amazed that we in New Zealand have pretty much nothing deadly poisonous. The only thing I can remember being scared of growing up (insect wise) was the white-tail spider. And even then I’m not sure I ever actually saw one - we did catch a few to examine over the years but surely that proves the danger was never that high. Since being here I’ve been bitten by angry red ants, malaria carrying mosquitoes (I’ve never actually had malaria but I did say I’m a hypochondriac) and strange bed bugs that you can never see but you KNOW the next morning were there. So far I’ve avoided sickness, but what I’m growing increasingly worried about is my paranoia..
Did you know Tanzania is home to the Boomslang Snake? It’s said to be the most venomous of all snakes on the entire CONTINENT (yes yes I know it’s rare to attack a human.. but STILL)
There’s the Puff Adder, the Gapon Viper, not to mention all the varities of cobras. A friend of ours, who lives on the other side of town, found a Black Mamba Snake on his front doorstep a few nights ago. His night guard was already there, killing it, when our friend came outside. The guard then told him that the doorstep Mamba was actually the fifth he’d killed that month (interesting side note: when locals kill snakes, they then hang them on trees, to warn off other snakes)
The Black Mamba: Scarier with his mouth open
Crossing into the spider world you’ve got the tarantula, the sac spider, the violin spider, and the ogre faced spider, which you should definitely look up.
But perhaps worst of all, Tanzania is home to the Black Widow. Googling this species made it difficult to get to sleep for a few nights: “If bitten, the victim will be in a lot of intense pain, experience elevated blood pressure, muscle cramps and weakness in the legs” (goafrica.com)
And don’t even get me started on typhoid, cholera or yellow fever. I can list you the symptoms off by heart, but I’d just start imagining that I’ve got ALL OF THEM.
Anyone out there with real stories of spider / insect / developing country illness close enounters?