25 February 2014

Roanoke will be forever etched in my memory, for all the wrong reasons.

Roanoke Downtown – VA – USA

A persistent itch wakes me; it is not a mosquito, perhaps a flea? Checking the bedding brings no answer. I turn off the light, again the sting and itch. Something is biting me, right now, this instant! Resisting the urge for hasty action, I take a moment to devise a tactic, then, flicking on the light while simultaneously whipping off the bedding find myself face to face with…bedbugs. AAarrggg!!!

They are as unhappy to see me as I am to see them. They dive for cover under the covers.  Elevate! I want to elevate! I want to leap out of bed, but don’t want to touch the floor. I drag the bedding away further, more bugs. Nooo!!! Grabbing the empty water cup, I capture one of the beasts, finding shoes and sensible clothing storm off to the reception. The mock horror in his face tells me he has seen this all before. Well perhaps, but I haven’t and it is gross, gross, spine shakingly gross.

He offers me a new room, changing rooms in the middle of the night is not something I would recommend. My sleep is now thoroughly disrupted, getting into the new bed is an act of sheer willpower. I have discovered a new fear. Fear of the bug. I feel sullied, dirty, but I need to sleep. I have a 7am talk, being all chipper and inspirational with not a hair out-of-place at 7am is hard enough, without adding a sleepless night due to gross little bugs to the mix. How to get myself back to sleep..?

I shall educate myself. Fear is always most pronounced in the unknown. Knowledge throws light on the subject, puts it into perspective.

I discover that bedbugs are resilient little critters; they can live for months without feeding. They are opportunistic hitchhikers, moving from place to place on luggage, shoes, and clothing. They are super light-sensitive and only come out in the dark. They like to live in the cavities between the headboard and bed.

Right, solution number one; dig out the eye mask, I shall sleep with the light on. Number two; pull the bed from the wall, no more headboards, and another thing to inspect in future hotel rooms. I also become an obsessive hotel review reader, in doing this I discover that the American Southeast seems to have a bed bug epidemic. From expensive to cheap, all hotels are waging a war against these little bloodsuckers.

Somehow, I don’t feel so bad anymore; it’s not just me…

Meanwhile in the present, life in Africa rolls on with not a bug in sight.

Walker Bay – Western Cape – South Africa

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